This year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day Speech established, once again, that he knows India as a ‘Khalish’ Hindustani. He not only endeared himself to every family, every unbiased and un-prejudiced Indian, but also reasserted internationally that India now has a leader who means business. This was an expression of inner commitment of a leader who has grown through the rank, and is now capable of thinking beyond electoral gains. His call to every Indian: ‘Come, join me, we shall work together to rebuild a glorious India of the future!’ What a friendly challenge: “You work for 12 hours; I would match it with 13.” The agenda outlined assigns specific tasks to one and all. Listening to him was also the time to recall what Mahatma Gandhi wrote to Julian Huxley prior to the finalisation of the charter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “I learnt from my illiterate but wise mother that all rights to be deserved come from duties well done. Thus the very right to live accrues to us when we do the duty of citizenship of the world, from this one fundamental statement, perhaps it is easy enough to define duties of men and women and correlate every right to some corresponding duty to first performed…”
Take the case of resurrection of Japan–the nation that suffered the most during World War II, humiliated, devastated and reduced to penury. But love for the nation and readiness to work hard changed it all. Japanese developed a robust work culture, beginning from schools. They made the new generation realise—and internalise—that every minute of their ‘work’ was contributing to the progress and development of Japan. What a transformation they achieved. In India too, it shall begin from schools, colleges and universities. Imagine a situation: learning environment in schools, which are neat and clean, well-equipped, well-staffed, punctual and functional, activities and action all around. When government schools become places of value inculcation, personality development and learning centres, a new India would emerge. Never forget the first condition: people’s cooperation in abundance. Once they are convinced of the sincerity, integrity and purity of the commitment of initiatives, society would be too willing to help and support.
The PM reminded the nation of ‘demographic dividend’ and that for skilled young Indians, the ‘world is flat’. The government promised to leave no stone unturned to provide skill orientation to the young, both men and women. When did we last hear Government of India talking of providing skill orientation to cooks, drivers, geriatric workers, hospital attendants? A chaiwala does it as he thinks about them and is concerned about them. This hard task master reminds every young person how shameful even a single case of rape could be for the nation. Everyone has a role and responsibility to prevent this heinous crime. Parents are reminded of two major responsibilities they must remain conscious of during the growing up of their wards: treat both boys and girls on equal footing, and no extra concessions to boys and restrictions on girls only. Do not expect only the law-enforcing agencies to root out social ills fully. If it were so, India would have got rid of dowry, female infanticide, bigotry and religious fanaticism decades ago. People have to come forward. Can doctors and medical practitioners absolve themselves of their collusion in abortions of the girl child? Even if a single doctor is involved, it shames the entire profession. If female foeticide or infanticide takes place in a village, town or city, everyone must accept responsibility. Recall the inclusion of Article 51-A in the Constitution of India in 1976. A committee, headed by Justice J S Verma, submitted a report to the Government of India on October 31, 1999, to operationalise the suggestions to teach fundamental duties to the students and citizens of India. Together, India can overcome.
Rajput is a former director of the NCERT