On August 15, 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, addressed a newly-liberated people filled with a sense of possibility and hope to collectively build an egalitarian and democratic nation. The people’s aspirations were articulated in Nehru’s famous words:
“The future beckons to us. Whither do we go and what shall be our endeavour? To bring freedom and opportunity to the common man, to the peasants and workers of India; to fight and end poverty and ignorance and disease; to build up a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation, and to create social, economic and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman.
This vision was subsequently enshrined in the Indian Constitution on January 26, 1950.
Sixty-five years later, the dream of a truly democratic India has dulled more than a little. Hope has been replaced by dismay at the tawdry pursuit of self-interest that pervades our present political and economic landscape.