Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Jaideep Majumdar shares India’s rich history and lively culture.
Ernie Peñaredondo
India Independence Day: A Vibrant History, A Brighter Future
Michaela Tangan (The Philippine Star) - August 18, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — “Where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high, where knowledge is free.

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls.

Where words come out from the depth of truth, where tireless striving stretches its arms toward perfection. Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead

habit. Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action. Into that heaven of freedom, my father, Let my country awake!”

This is how Indian poet and 1913 Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore envisioned India.

As India commemorates its 73rd Independence Day on Aug. 15, the poem Let My Country Awake speaks volumes and echoes through the mind and heart of every Indian.

United as one India

During the 1800s, India was a flourishing country. The land was blessed with hardworking people, coupled with abundant food crops, cotton and silk and thriving artisans producing everything from gold jewelry to items of silver, copper and brass.

Britain arrived on the shores of India first as the East India Company for the purposes of trading and cleverly over time conquered the whole country. They masterfully played the game of divide and rule, using one kingdom against the other until they ruled most of India — even though they had a very small army compared to the mighty armies of the Indian kingdoms at that time.

British rule led to the division of a people and India was partitioned in 1947 when a Muslim-majority Pakistan was created.

“This shows that unless you are united and independent, you cannot look after the well-being and prosperity of your citizens. If your national interest becomes somebody else’s interest, you will always be exploited,” Indian Ambassador to the Philippines

Jaideep Mazumdar told STARweek.

Flying with Colors

Over centuries of colonial rule, India’s ancestors fought gallantly until they attained their quest for freedom in 1947. The end of one chapter led to the opening of another journey.

As the country was left with almost nothing after the British occupation, Indians worked hard to rebuild their nation from the ground up. One of the wealthiest nations on earth had been reduced to abject poverty.

“So, once the country became independent, her democratically elected leaders took decisions that were geared for the welfare of her people. India focused on how to remove poverty, spread education, improve the status of science and technology in the country, and how to make the country self-reliant in every way — be it in agriculture or industries,” Mazumdar recalled.

“A lot of emphasis was placed on agriculture and how to make ourselves sufficient in food grains and other crops as well as in health, medical education, and technical education,” the ambassador said. “So in the 73 years since independence, we were

able to slowly rise back up.” The cotton textile industry, which had been almost completely decimated mills in Lancashire and Manchester, England, slowly took back its throne. India is also leading in different areas — from having one of the largest pool of engineers in the world to being the largest provider of generic medicines globally.”

After having successfully sent a spacecraft to Mars, recently India has proudly and successfully launched Chandrayaan-2, aiming to become the fourth country to land on the moon and the fi rst to land on its pole.

India welcomed different civilizations and outside influences into her homeland. Despite this, India’s culture and traditions remained vibrant.

“Over the centuries, many outside civilizations and influences from other civilizations have enriched us, but we have taken the cultures of invaders, refugees or traders. We have always assimilated them, and therefore, we do not need to change.

So, even when the invaders came, we took so many aspects of the culture; therefore, maybe they did not need to change us,” the ambassador noted.

“India’s civilization has survived because instead of opposing outside cultures, civilizations, and influences, we have embraced them and made them our own, and at the same time preserved our original identity and our culture.”

To ensure that their history and identity will be enriched for generations to come, the story of India’s struggle for freedom is taught in schools. From a young age, students learn about how they achieved independence. They learn about the stories, ideals, and sacrifices of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, and other leaders who rose up during the freedom movement.

Pop culture and Bollywood also act as vessels of the country’s history, which can communicate well to the younger generation.

And as the symbolic Indian Tricolor flag waves over the horizon, every Indian is reminded of their rich and colorful history.

Land of Diversity

On the occasion of Independence Day, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will speak to the people. The nation’s leaders call upon the people to unite behind the government to achieve the country’s missions.

“The Independence Day is marked by two speeches. The President of India addresses the nation in a speech, which is more philosophical and a guidance kind of speech about where he thinks the country is and where it should be in different

ways,” the ambassador explained.

“And then on the 15th of August, the prime minister of India will give a speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort in New Delhi, a symbol of the state that was built in 1639 by one of our emperors. He will lay down our achievements and the things that we

should be proud of and take pride in.

He will also enumerate the challenges that we face, such as poverty, inequality, lack of good education for a large number of people, questions, and issues of health, issues of environmental pollution.

And he will galvanize the country towards action. He will announce programs of his government to address these matters,” he added.

As India celebrates Independence Day on Aug. 15, Indians’ heads are held high, inspired to dream a brighter future for their country.

“The India that I hope will remain as what our founding fathers have laid out in our Constitution — the India that they wish to see, which is democratic, secular, free to decide her destiny, where poverty is a thing of the past where everybody has an equal opportunity,” the ambassador capped.

India’s Moon Shot is well on its way to the moon, and if all goes well, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) hopes to soft-land a robotic craft on the lunar surface in early September 2019. Dr. Kailasavadivoo Sivan, the Chairman of ISRO has described the Chandrayaan-2 (Moon Vehicle) as the ‘most complex space mission ever undertaken by India.”

On the hot and humid afternoon of July 22, 2019, at India’s rocket port, the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota exactly at 2:43 p.m. India’s most powerful rocket the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-3 nicknamed the ‘Baahubali’ lifted off into the monsoon clouds carrying India’s Chandrayaan-2 satellite into space.

In less than 17 minutes the 640-tonne rocket, equivalent to the weight of 1.5 Jumbo Jets, which stands as high as fifteen-story building at 44-meter length completed its mission by putting the Chandrayaan-2 satellite in a “better than expected orbit” said Sivan.

Speaking about the successful launch of Chandrayaa -2 in spite of encountering “technical snag” and a rapid come back, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “if you ask me what the two greatest lessons I have received from Chandrayaan-2, I shall say they are faith and fearlessness.”

PM Modi is a known space enthusiast who knows how to deploy space technology for effective governance of the 1.3 billion Indians. He further added, “the second important lesson is – never lose hope in the face of stumbling blocks or obstacles. The way our scientists rectified technical issues in record time, burning the midnight oil, is in itself an exemplary, unparalleled task. The world watched the ‘‘Tapasya,’ the awesome perseverance of our scientists. We should also feel proud of the fact that despite hindrances, there is no change in the arrival time [on the moon] … many are amazed at that. We have to face temporary setbacks in life… but always rememberthe capacity to overcome them resides within us.”

Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second moon shot the first was launched in 2008 named Chandrayaan-1, and it was an orbiter were `India was the captain and several countries like USA, UK, the European Space Agency were players as India lofted their instruments all the way to the moon free of cost.’ Chandrayaan-1 made global history when this under $100 million mission made the startling discovery of the presence of water molecules on the parched lunar surface. This renewed twenty-first century `back to the moon’ effort in a way was spurred by Chandrayaan-1, and now the USA seeks to send astronauts back to the moon in the next few years.

Chandrayaan-2 according to Sivan “is a three in one mission’ where there is an orbiter that will go around the moon, a lander named Vikram that will attempt a soft landing near the South Pole of the moon and small six-wheeled moon rover called Pragyaan. Modi says, “Chandrayaan-2 is Indian to the core. It is thoroughly Indian in heart and spirit. It is completely a `swadeshi,’ homegrown mission. This mission has proved beyond doubt, once again, that when it comes to attempting an endeavor in the new age, cutting edge areas, with innovative zeal, our scientists are second to none. They are the best… they are world-class.”

India has sent 13 indigenously made scientific instruments that will analyze homegrown surface, map the topography search for water and measure moonquakes among other things, this time also India is carrying a small instrument for the American space agency NASA on board the Vikram

Lander.

The Indian moon rover is powered by artificial intelligence and is expected to do its long march on the

moon surface for about half a kilometer in its nominal life of 14 days. ISRO hopes to soft-land on the lunar surface on Sept. 7, 2019, and if it succeeds India will become the fourth country after the USA, Russia, and China to have the capability to soft-land on another planetary body.

India is no doubt betting big on space technology, as PM Modi says “I fervently hope that the Chandrayaan-2 mission will inspire our youth towards science & innovation. After all, science is the path to progress.” - Pallava Bagla

INDIA INDEPENDENCE DAY
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