Happy Independence day and this article that appeared in NY Times in 1997 is appropriate for the day. Abe Rosenthal was stationed in India in the 50's by NY Times.http://tv.nytimes.com/learning/general/specials/india/15rose.html
Aug 15, 1997 NY Times
ON MY MIND / By A.M. ROSENTHAL
India, Mon Amour
When I was young in India . . .
Often, when I give myself time to think about my life the words pronounce themselves to me. Sometimes they startle me, the times I hear them when I thought I had been thinking about other things and other places. Until a few months ago I believed the words had to do only with the four years I spent as the New York Times correspondent in India, in the second half of the 1950's.
But in March, on one of many journeys back, I understood that what the words said to me was that I had felt young not just in the 50's but always since, whenever I returned to India. I realized that every return was like starting fresh -- the same excitement and zest, the same sense that not just a country but a whole world of infinite variety was spread out before me and that I had the delicious chance to learn about it, just by going forward to meet it.
All year, as India approached the 50th anniversary of its independence on Aug. 15, 1947, it has been getting unsparing analysis and criticism. I contributed a share.
But not today, and I hope never will I send her one of those black-bordered cards she's been getting for decades. They arrive with every birthday or crisis from Indians and foreigners.
Americans and Indian professionals share a particular delight in kicking their country around.
By now you may have guessed I am seized by India. It could be said I love India, so I say it.
I love India for personal reasons. It gave me decades of discovery, learning and friendships -- and lots and lots of stories to write. All I had to do was go out and scoop them up; for reporters a golden land.
I love India because when almost all newly independent countries became Communist or Fascist, or militaristic tyrannies that the world prettified by calling authoritarian, and through all the decades when the West poured its treasure into dictatorships and its contempt into India, the Indians stuck with democracy. That is the most personal reason of all for a foreigner who knows he himself could not thrive, and might not live, without it.
Some birthday mourners say yes, India has elections but elections themselves do not a political democracy make. No, but they certainly do when they are as free and regular as India's and when India adds freedom of press, worship, courts, speech, assembly and politics -- and a usually vote-smart public.
In the 50 years since 1947 Indians created a single nation where none existed before, out of 500 princely states. They built it despite religions at war with each other for centuries, and the death of a million people in the war of partition. They fashioned a steadily industrializing state, which produced a huge middle class. Its scientists, doctors and computer wizards bolster not only India but America and other Western countries.
Indians have not solved the old evils that still threaten their future -- poverty, illiteracy, the birth rate, violence between Hindu castes and among Hindu, Muslim and Sikh. And newer evils are eating into the national marrow: epidemic corruption and business regulation that Indian politicians keep promising to end but don't.
However, consider the West's record in the 50 years before 1947:
Two world wars. One Holocaust. Fascism and Communism. Unknowable millions slaughtered by Germany. Policies that helped Japan defeat China and then helped the Communists take over China. Nuclear bombs, two used (thousands still available). World depressions. Famines in Western colonies -- like India.
And now for a few world highlights since 1947, during India's half-century of self-rule.
Corruption: Italy and Russia. Religious and communal warfare: Bosnia. Racial tensions: France and Germany. Appeasement of dictators: Western arms and technology to Iraq, Communist China, etc. Famines: Mao bringing death by starvation to unknowable millions. Disease: AIDS and tobacco-cancer. Drugs, crime and cynicism: see everywhere. Exception: the U.S., which knows no poverty, disease, corruption or racial tensions.
After examining the above two paragraphs could we please wait before sending more black-bordered cards on India's birthdays -- wait say 50 more years?