CHANGING INDIA By Jawaharlal Nehru APRIL 1963 AUGUST 1947 brought independence to India. In spite of the long-drawn-out struggle that preceded it, it came in peace and goodwill. Suddenly all bitterness of past conflict was forgotten and a new era of peace and friendship began. Our relations with Britain became friendly and we appeared to have no inherited problems and conflicts with any other country.We had been conditioned for 30 years by Mahatma Gandhi and his gospel of peace which had left a powerful imprint not only on the minds of those actively interested in politics but also on the mass mind. Our success in attaining freedom through peaceful methods confirmed this way of thinking. Thus we entered the family of independent nations with a clean slate, without any inherited hatreds or enmities or territorial or other ambitions, determined to cultivate friendly and cooperative relations with all countries and to devote ourselves to the economic and social progress of India without getting entangled in national or international conflicts. India had become free, but there were still some small parts of it under French and Portuguese control which were under colonial domination. Thus in our minds the freedom of India was not quitecomplete. We felt certain that France and Portugal would also follow the British example and that these enclaves of colonial territory would inevitably, and through peaceful methods, join independent India. We made the necessary approaches to the French and Portuguese Governments. The French enclaves became a part of the Union of India peacefully by agreement with France. Portugal proved much more intractable and gave a lot of trouble.There was serious trouble in 1955 involving the killing and wound ing of many Indian and Goan passive resisters by Portuguese soldiers. There was also severe internal repression in Goa. Such incidents continued, and it was only after some show of military force, following further incidents in 1961, that this last remnant of colonial rule in India was ended. After that the independence of India was complete. August 1947 brought long-cherished freedom to our country.But in the wake of it came the Partition of India and, immediately after, mass killing on hoth sides of the new frontier and vast migrations. We had hoped that the Partition of India, which was hrought about by agreement, would lead to the creation of two states which would be friendly neighbors and would cooperate with each other. That was natural, as not only geography but a common history and culture and the same language and many other factors common to both would, we thought, inevitably leadto friendly cooperation.But this was not to be. The events after the Partition left a trail of great bitterness. We were trying to get over the immediate results of the Partition when the State of Kashmir was suddenly invaded from Pakistan and a new conflict arose. To us, trained and conditioned as we had been by Mahatma Gandhi, this came as a shock, for we had hoped that there would be no military conflicts with any other nation. After 14 months, a cease-fire was agreed to and actual fighting stopped. Since then, although theKashmir problem remained with us and gave a great deal of trouble, feelings in both countries gradually lost their bitterness and approached normality, in so far as the people were concerned. We devoted ourselves to the major problem that confronted us—economic and social progress and the betterment of our people.Even before independence, we had given much thought to this matter and had come to the conclusion that we should proceed by the method of planning. Our resources were limited, and we wanted to utilize them to the best advantage to attain declared objectives. After independence, a Constituent Assembly was formed to draw up the new Constitution of India; this declared that India was to be a sovereign, democratic Republic which should secure for all its citizens: justice—social, economic and political; liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;equality of status and of opportunity. And among them all it was to promote fraternity, assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation. On January 26,1950, this new Republic came into existence and all our efforts were directed toward realizing the objectives laid down—political democracy and economic justice. We called the objective socialistic without adhering to any doctrinaire definition of the word. The system we evolved was consciously directed toward the welfare of the common man rather than to enrichment of the few; it is democratic because its processes are ultimately controlled by public discussion and by Parliament elected on the basis of universal adult franchise, and not by the secret purposes of a privileged minority.While benefiting from foreign experiences—more especially, in the constitutional sense, from England and the United States— we did not wish to copy any foreign models. We believed that India had, by virtue of her long history and traditions, an individuality of her own and we should retain this without adhering to outworn ideas or traditions. We realized that the world was rapidly changing and we must keep pace with these changes without being swept away by them. We wanted to help, however modestly, in this developing pattern of international relations. Wehad no desire to interfere with other countries or impose our views on them. Thus, India started changes in her own life and institutions that are so decisive and far-reaching in their scope and intent that they may well be considered revolutionary, especially when viewed against the background of an ancient civilization and its ingrained conservatism. In foreign affairs, in a period when cataclysmic conflicts seem never too far below the horizon, she has invariably taken her stand with those who are striving for the maintenance of peace and for reconciliation and cooperation. The twin policies which have guided us since independence are,broadly, democratic planning for development at home and, externally, a policy which has come to be named, rather inadequately, "non-alignment." Like the basic policies of most countries, these are not the product of any inspiration or arbritrary choice, but have their roots in our past history and way of thinking as well as in fundamental national exigencies. India's overriding and most urgent task is to raise the standard of living of her people, and in order to achieve this, to carry out structural and organizational reforms not only as speedily as possible but with maximum popular support and participation. In foreign affairs, we had no interest other than to cultivate friendly cooperation with all countries and to help to keep world peace, as the sinequa non of everything else. In our approach to these problems, our attitude and ideas had inevitably been shaped by our own recent struggle for freedom, as well as by the accumulated experience of centuries, and above all by Mahatma Gandhi's teachings.It is no sign of complacency to recognize that these policies have met with an encouraging measure of success. India, with a population of 446,000,000 and an electorate of over 200,000,000, remains the largest functioning democracy in the world. Without deviating from democratic principles and procedures, she has launched upon extensive programs of modernization which are already bearing fruit. Far-reaching land reforms have taken place and our economy, still predominantly agricultural, is being steadily transformed by the spread of industrialization and the completion of vast new projects in the fields of power, transport and irrigation.Our Community Development schemes represent a rural reconstruction program which promises to transform the countryside and the vast population that live there. Recently, the Community Development movement has been extended to what is called Panchayati Raj; that is, there has been decentralization in favor of village-elected councils which have been given authority and resources to carry out schemes of development. Both industrial and agricultural production have increased substantially in volume as well as variety, and every effort is being made to ensure that the benefits of an expanding economy are shared equitably by all classes of the population. Education has spread remarkably at all stages and there are at present over 50,000,000 boys and girls in schools and colleges.Special attention has been paid to scientific and technical education. The health conditions of the people have also made substantial progress. In the 1940s the expectation of life in India was 32; now it is approaching 50. Our planning, designed to equip the country with the technical skills and the productive facilities of a modern society, is essentially welfare-oriented. Two Five Year Plans have been completedand the third is now in mid-course.What is called "non-alignment" has also not fared badly. This,strictly speaking, represents only one aspect of our policy; we have other positive aims also, such as the promotion of freedom from colonial rule, racial equality, peace and international cooperation, but "non-alignment" has become a summary description of this policy of friendship toward all nations, uncompromised by adherence to any military pacts. This was not due to any indifference to issues that arose, but rather to a desire to judge them for ourselves, in full freedom and without any preconceived partisan bias. It implied, basically, a conviction that good and evil are mixed up in this world, that the nations cannot be divided into sheep and goats, to be condemned or approved accordingly,and that i f we were to join one military group rather than the other it was liable to increase and not diminish the risk of a major clash between them. Essentially, "non-alignment" is freedom of action which is a part of independence. This attitude no doubt displeased some people to begin with, but it has been of serviceto the cause of world peace at some critical moments in recent history. A large number of countries, including most of the newly independent states of Asia and Africa, have adopted a similar outlook on international affairs. It is possible that India has influenced their thinking to some extent in this matter; but,however that may be, "non-alignment" is now an integral part of the international pattern and is widely conceded to be a comprehensible and legitimate policy, particularly for the emergent Afro-Asian states.