Over the long Independence Day weekend, there were a number of interesting pieces that one came across. There are these two pieces by Vikram Doctor which give completely different takes.
The first one is an effort to remember the various speakers on that significant night of the 14th / early morning of the 15th August 1947. There is one paragraph which is pretty interesting:
What is nearly forgotten is that between Nehru and Dr.Radhakrishnan was another speaker, symbolically chosen to second Nehru, who was soon to become a victim of those divisions. His name was Chaudhuri Khaliquzzaman of the Muslim League, presumably chosen to represent the Muslim voice in the Constituent Assembly. That this role didn’t go to a Muslim from the Congress like Maulana Azad may have been because an attempt was being at that time to involve a wider spectrum of Indian political opinion in the nascent government. The Cabinet sworn in the next day included non-Congress ministers in prominent positions like Dr.B.Ambedkar as Law Minister, the Justice Party’s Shanmukham Chetty as Finance Minister and the Hindu Mahasabha’s Dr.Shyama Prasad Mookerjee as Industries Minister.
His other piece is a quest for children born on that specific midnight, like Saleem Sinai. Unfortunately he does not find any news about births occurring on that particular day and time, even after checking the archives of the Times of India. Not finding any mention of any real life midnight child, he explores the city of Bombay through the words of Rushdie.
If 1981, the year it won the Booker Prize, saw the birth of a formidable literary talent, it also saw the birth of Bombay as a literary city – colourful and chaotic, teeming and stinking, yet also wealthy and stylish, dangerous yet not discouragingly so, a city poised between West and East (but usefully English speaking) and in Bollywood, possessed of an industry involved in creating even more tales to add to those already spun by the city.
To round up this post, I close with Salil Tripathi’s piece in Mint where he traces 20 years of the reforms launched by PV Narasimha Rao and his finance minister Dr MM Singh. His closing sentence, as is always the case, gives you this hopeful thread to ponder upon for the future:
As India tries to reclaim its erstwhile predominant position in the global economy, it has the opportunity to show that economic and political freedoms can go hand-in-hand; that to grow you don’t have to be authoritarian, and democracy doesn’t hinder wealth. That might sound false to those still in awe of China. But India is not China, and that’s worth celebrating.
To quote the pilot in my flight back to Mumbai from Kolkata on the 15th, Jai Hind.