Individuals mark the day of their birth with solemn promises (to self). We resolve to wake up early, exercise regularly, drink sparingly, make new friends. And we do all this in the hope that it will make us better in the year ahead, at the end of which we again resolve to wake up early, exercise regularly, drink sparingly, make new friends. It’s an endless cycle, really, and what the futility of our efforts reveals to us, year upon year, is that we are all too human, prone to error and excess. But, what if the sovereign democratic republic of India were an individual? What should she resolve to do as she enters her platinum jubilee year? Resolution no. 1: forget the past and treat all your children fairly and equally. Seventy is no age to be holding old grudges and setting off one against the other. Resolution no. 2: stop intruding in everybody’s personal affairs, the modern state can no longer be a stuck-up school marm. Let everyone live, love, work, play, pray and eat as they please. Resolution no. 3: spend big on education, hospitals, to build human capital. A poor, malnourished, undereducated country paying through its nose for basic rights can never be a global superpower.
Resolution no. 4: stop preening over your bank balance every day. Great nations aren’t built by praying at the altar of mammon alone, or by recalibrating growth rates. Resolution no. 5: protect the forests, the coasts, the rivers, the hills, the arts. This is our true wealth and its value will never diminish in the eyes of the only stakeholders who count: ‘We, the People’. Resolution no. 6: get some peace of mind, be less angry. As Mark Twain said, anger is like acid; it does more harm to the vessel containing it. Resolution no. 7: listen to everybody, especially what you do not like to hear. No one has a monopoly on wisdom. Resolution no. 8: have a laugh, don’t take everything seriously. Remember, laughter never killed anybody. And one final resolution: watch less TV. Listen to music, read a book, get a life. Like individuals, it is possible, no, it is certain that ‘India’ will slip up on many of these resolutions but rededicating ourselves to the social, cultural and economic value systems that earlier generations, who grew up in the shadow of 1947, built this country on, is a good step up at 70.