75 years of Indian independence: rapid rise, old rivalries

75 years of Indian independence: rapid rise, old rivalries

From: 08/15/2022 16:57

India and Pakistan became independent states 75 years ago. The country that will soon be the most populous in the world has developed rapidly – but to this day a large part of the population cannot participate.

By Sebastian Manz, ARD Studio New Delhi

A carrier rocket brings satellites into orbit – a routine process for the Indian state space organization for a long time. India has become a high-tech hotspot in some areas. The country’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the world.

When Viceroy Louis Mountbatten, appointed by the British colonial power, announced India’s independence 75 years ago, it quickly became clear that the immense country was not politically and economically oriented towards Anglo-Saxon capitalism.

Indian historian Anirudh Deshpande of the University of Delhi describes the country’s cautious course at first: “It wasn’t really socialism, you wanted to avoid extremes – both capitalism and communism.”

India IT – a billion dollar business

Initially, the country largely isolated itself from the world market. India’s industry has developed comparatively weakly. However, the huge service sector and agriculture were not enough for major development spurts. And so the Indian government finally decided in the 1990s to open up the country much more to the world market.

“There is no doubt that openness had its advantages,” says historian Anirudh Deshpande today. “We had a real revolution in telecommunications and we have advanced a lot in terms of software.”

Indian IT services are now exported all over the world – a billion dollar business. The country has timely trained millions of young people in this field. More and more Indians are emerging from poverty.

Increase in military spending

But a look at New Delhi’s sidewalks at night also shows how glaring social problems are still glaring despite the boom: daily workers sleep here neatly cradled on simple straw mats. The rise passes through hundreds of millions of Indians.

Those who earn more than 300 euros a month are among the richest 10 percent in the country, recalls Deshpande: “You can imagine how much those on the other side of the scale earn.”

Shaking hands at the Pakistan-India border: Pakistan celebrates its Independence Day the day before India on 14 August. Old rivalries burn behind the conciliatory gestures. Image: AFP

Looking at China and Pakistan

Despite this, India aspires to a more influential role in the world. Increasing military spending is aimed at securing the country’s sovereignty over powerful neighbor China and arch-rival Pakistan.

A mistake, believes the historian Deshpande. India’s military budget is often what the country spends on education or health: “That means people would rather buy cannons than butter. That’s a waste of resources. That’s of little use to the country.”

India has undoubtedly made remarkable progress in its 75 years of independence. However, much of its population is still waiting to share in these successes.

How India has developed since independence

Sebastian Manz, ARD New Delhi, 15 Aug 2022 2:28 PM