• Pranav Jha

The Indomitable Indian Spirit

The world is going through an unprecedented crisis. The pandemic is going to have a long-lasting gargantuan impact on our world. Amidst this devastating turmoil, Indian response to the pandemic has shown the world a glimmer of hope. With its constrained resources, India has put up a resilient fight against the pandemic. Given an array of factors- huge population, skyrocketing population density rates, a healthcare system plagued by a multiplicity of other problems, and abysmal poverty rates, it can be safely said that to a great extent India has managed to contain the spread of the deadly virus till now. Measures taken by Indian authorities are being praised globally by experts in various fields. While we have still not overcome the crisis and the spread of Covid-19 has not been contained either, we can’t give ourselves appreciation. But then it’s even unimaginable to think a nation of over 1.3 billion can come to standstill for more than a month to prevent the spread of a deadly disease. It’s the indomitable spirit of 1.3 billion Indians that has enabled them to display insurmountable patience and unshakeable tenacity in these extremely testing times. But what lies beneath this unbreakable facade, what makes us feel positive in these testing times.

First of all, we need to applaud and express our heartfelt gratitude for our Covid warriors who are relentlessly working for the nation’s safety endangering their own health in the process. The nation will always remain indebted to them for their services during this crisis. Our doctors and our health professionals are at the epicenter of the crisis and they’re no less than saviors today. Our safai karamcharis deserve to be applauded, they are the force behind keeping our surroundings hygienic for us. Our administrators and police forces are relentlessly working to implement law and order and to address a multitude of concerns. They are the ones who are overburdened and working 24*7 to coordinate the society in the best possible way. Our media professionals are leaving no stones unturned to make possible we get all information even if we are at home. The businesses of essential services (groceries, pharmacies) are making sure we’re well-stocked to face the crisis. Essential service providers (electricity, water, cable, internet-related, and many others) are working in this crisis to ensure that we enjoy comforts inside our homes. The emergency service providers have not ceased their operations for the country. Similarly, our bankers and other financial service providers work so that the nation remains financially stable and vitalized. The same goes for our social workers who are in their fields to provide their much-needed services. Each one who is endangering their health for our country without contributing their time to families is doing their part of nation-building in these times. Even, all of us who work from home deserve to be appreciated for continuing to perform our duties. It may not be possible to name everyone for their services but all of them deserve to be appreciated. All of them, can’t be thanked more.

However, we couldn’t turn a blind eye to the inefficiencies of our system that were exposed during this crisis. The exodus of the migrant laborers highlighted the gross inequalities of our economic system. They form the life-blood of our country, their contributions are required to keep the wheels turning. The pitiable state of poverty grasps our national attention during such a crisis particularly when chronic poverty remains a widespread phenomenon. Inefficient distribution of food despite having huge surpluses of food grains and still causing starvation should be a cause to worry for us. The unorganized sector which has been extremely hardly hit by this crisis is the largest employer in the nation. A financial plan is the utmost need of the hour, even if it impacts the fiscal deficit. The need to revitalize the economy, once the pandemic ends will be on discussion tables of policymakers. It will once again expose the abysmal low contribution to health from GDP. Not all states have been doing exceptionally well on the health front, encephalitis and dengue among others have taken a toll on healthcare systems in a plethora of states. Keeping all these factors in mind, we still can’t ignore the rapid progress India as a nation has made in umpteen number of sectors. And behind this is the Indomitable Indian Spirit.

India’s independence came in extremely disturbing times and faced a multitude of challenges. 73 years since India’s meteoric rise has stunned the world- how could a nation with so many internal diversities coupled with external threats (border issues with its neighbors) exhibit such pleasing trends of growth. India’s growth story is indeed special and there are uncountable contributions behind it. Many crises have helped in the strengthening of its national character. India is blessed to have outstanding leadership at times of crises who took decisions that changed the course of history altogether. India’s international standing had been emboldened by Prime Minister Nehru’s idealistic policies. Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s will to counter-attack Pakistan in its own territory in the 65′ war at heights of the Cold War changed the course of war leading to Indian victory altogether. Prime Minister Gandhi’s will to achieve self-sufficiency in agricultural production after succumbing to American pressure to devalue its currency led to the Green Revolution propelling India to the top of charts of agricultural production. No decision in independent Indian history can match the magnanimity of its decision to act in freedom of getting involved in the independence of Bangladesh in the face of an inevitable war. Indira Gandhi’s will did not deter even in face of America dispatching its 7th Fleet showed the coming of age of the sovereign nation who knew to chart an independent course for itself even in turbulence. At the advent of the 90s when India was plunged into a gargantuan economic crisis with a threat looming that forex would run out of stock. Prime Minister Narshima Rao along with Finance Minister Manmohan Singh took the boldest decision in Indian economic history to go ahead and liberalize the economy. It meant giving up its proud socialist credentials to smash the labyrinth of license raj and to provide the private sector its due share in economic growth. Another bold decision came at the end of the decade when Prime Minister Vajpayee with his wafer-thin majority in Parliament decided to go and carry out nuclear tests even knowing it would mean invitation of the chagrin of P5 and sanctions. Similarly, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh went ahead with the Civil Nuclear Deal even if it meant that the domestic political territory would be endangered. And so was monumental the decision of implementation of GST, which meant changing the financial architecture overnight to ease the taxation process. It would be equally impossible to ignore the fact the federalism strengthened during these crises. The 62 war with China witnessed Tamil leader Annadurai give up the secessionist demand of a separate Tamil state forever and declaring it would be grossly inappropriate in a public meeting. During crises, all political, regional, linguistic, social differences nearly cease to work for the cause of a nation and this is what we’re seeing today.

The outstanding leadership has been well complemented by fierce popular support. In face of Chinese aggression, the Indian army was short of finances, Nehru’s call invited ladies to donate gold jewelry for the funds. Shastri’s call for keeping a fast one day for grain shortage was well received. And so was Prime Minister Modi’s request to practice social distancing during the Corona crisis. Inspiring stories of civilians in frontline border states during gruesome wars will keep inspiring generations. There are also examples of volunteer organizations providing self-services to the civilians and armies during wars. Indian populace never felt shy of raising their voices against injustice and popular movements contributed to the spirit of India. How can one forget the Chipko Movement that sensitized the whole nation about the degradation of the environment. Movements that were aimed at eliminating social evil received huge popular support and became the face of democratic India. Public solidarity is the sole reason behind India becoming more stronger than before, after any national crisis. The nation came together in movements like IAC and for seeking justice for Nirbhaya. That signified India can come out on the streets for its well-being.

Even during this Corona crisis, we found a plethora of examples signaling intense and intricate cooperation for keeping our nation safe. Prime Minister’s appeals played the role of binding the nation together during a hard time. The constant monitoring of situations by the chief ministers signified the cooperative federalism of our nation, from which the great nation stems its strength. The call of administrators to the populace to take care of the needy and under-privileged section struck the right chord. As put out by Delhi Chief Minister, there would be no patriotic act greater, during this crisis, than to help the needy sections of society. Political workers across party lines came together throughout the length and breadth of the nation to help the populace in destroying partisan acrimony. PM-CARES got plenty of donations from varied sections-industrialists, NGOs, sportspersons, actors, and most importantly from ordinary people. Can we ever forget the contribution of the 15-year old golf player who sold his trophies for donation or of those people/organizations who are feeding millions during this grave crisis. State governments’ humane face is coming before us from the delivery of necessities to the evacuation of those stranded. All of this binds India together from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Kutch to Kamrup.

After all this, what should Indian citizens feel? It is their small acts of patriotism that keeps the nation together and moving ceaselessly. We came to know the value of our services to the nation and how important it is in these times. We are all in this together. It is this unity in a myriad of diversities that helps us to move even if we are left behind. The strength of solidarity is the actual reason behind the indomitable Indian spirit. And it’s true, we shall over come.

by Pranav Jha