The India Today - How Far We Have Come

As India celebrates 75 years of its emancipation from the tyrannical clutches of imperialism, one is bound to be awestruck if one were to muse on the illustrious journey our country has had since independence. We have advanced from being one of the most exploited lands on earth to being an economic and military power to be reckoned with, eyeing an even more ambitious future. While India has been on its upward journey for decades, technological advances in the 21st century have accelerated this growth to unprecedented levels.

For decades, India’s rural areas continued to stay in the dark even as its urban areas blossomed as the country opened the doors to its economy to the world in the 1990s. While the free market ushered in a new age of prosperity and wealth to the urban middle and upper classes, the countryside continued to be plagued by scarcity of even the most basic of needs; electricity, drinking water and sanitation. However, over the last decade or two, rapid changes have been witnessed in our agrarian communities.

Electricity, which was once a distant dream for millions in the country, is now available in close to every Indian home. 254.8 million of 255.5 million households in India now have electricity to power their homes, and electrification continues to make inroads even into the most remote and underprivileged lands of the country. Our country, once ridiculed by those abroad for the lack of basic hygiene infrastructure across the world, today has provided access to basic sanitation to millions, increasing its access from 38.7% in 2014, to 93.3% of the population in 2019. Today, a rural family has access to its basic needs it could’ve only dreamt of just a few decades ago.

In a country once dominated by cash payments, digitisation of the economy has resulted in monumental changes in ease of transactions and security for everyone across the country.  As affordable and accessible mobile broadband swept across the country, and revolutionary payment interfaces such as UPI sprung up, safe and secure online payments picked up pace, with Indians undertaking 9.36 billion online transactions, worth over 10.25 lakh crore rupees in just the first quarter of 2022. Today, beneficiaries of different government welfare programmes also see their benefits deposited directly into their own bank accounts, eliminating the greed and corruption that often plagued the middleman system.

Access to inexpensive broadband has done wonders to the underprivileged across India’s urban and rural areas. Children can now access education online, where schools did not exist for miles before; local merchants and traders can advertise and sell their goods to customers hundreds of miles away, and farmers can inculcate new, more efficient ideas in agriculture they learn from the thousands of like-minded individuals across the internet. In 2010, India only had around 92 million Internet users; 10 years later that number stood at 750 million, with more than 900 million Indians thought of to be Internet users today. The Internet has ushered in an era of unprecedented access to knowledge and markets to people in India’s countryside, and has been instrumental in breaking down the country’s vicious urban-rural divide.

On the global stage, India’s rising economic prowess, along with its newfound military strategicness as the dragon rises in the east, has given it massive importance in modern geopolitics. Recent years have seen India’s diplomatic outreach expand manifold across the world; we have established deep trade and military connections and agreements with several countries across the world, the most shining example of which is the QUAD Alliance between us, America, Japan and Australia. Today, India is no longer in the shadow of superpowers; it is powerful enough in exercising its own foreign policy, and as has been seen during recent crises such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has not cowered from charting its own path, even if it means going against the interests of powerful international geopolitical forces.

Two years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic showed us some of the flaws which our country has; such as the lack of sufficient healthcare infrastructure to handle the pandemic during times of increased spread, but India, especially in comparison to even the most advanced countries on earth, has come out of this dark period relatively unscathed. We fortified our position as the world’s pharmaceutical hub, producing billions of vaccines, and successfully inoculating over a billion people with at least one dose, and over 935 million with both doses. The country’s digitalisation only picked up pace during this time, with education and work becoming more accessible online than ever before. Even in times of despair, we succeeded in making sure our country is on an upward trajectory.

If a person from 1947 were to visit India today, they would be speechless, seeing the progress their country has achieved in the past 75 years. As technological progress only picks up pace, our growth as a country will also continue to get more rapid and accessible to all. Our duty, as the citizens of this great nation, with a history stretching back thousands of years, is to carry forward the country so that it stands strong and proud for thousands of years more to come.