India celebrated 60 years of independence on August 15.
Many were the nay-sayers around the world who scoffed at India's experiment with democracy. They have all been proven wrong. Democracy -- the fact that India belongs to her people -- is India's primary achievement, and may yet provide its salvation.
Will India fulfill the promise of this moment and make good on the pledge Jawaharlal Nehru made to the people of India in his famous midnight speech to free all Indians from 'poverty and disease and inequality of opportunity'?
Will India have the political courage and the intellectual daring to imagine a post-industrial, 21st-century national destiny grounded in its own ancient traditions and the truly revolutionary message of non-violence that secured its freedom, or will it fall prey to the seductions of a 20th-century industrial consumer society in the American mode?
I fear all signs are that India is choosing the latter path, betraying both the wisdom of one of its greatest progenitors, Mahatma Gandhi, and the life chances of most of its people.
Here is the link to an article I published for a special report on India's independence for Forbes.com (in the privileged company of lead author Amartya Sen). http://www.forbes.com/2007/08/05/india-us-relations-oped-cx_mka_0813us.html
And here are links to two review essays that mention my recent book Planet India. The latter, by New America Media editor Sandip Roy is an interesting piece. I'm putting New America Media on my links if you care to read more there.