"My greetings to all Indians on completion of 68 years of Independence. We are like no other nation. 5000 years of continuing history and civilisation, unmatched linguistic and ethnic diversity, peaceful coexistence of every faith and belief known to man, and extraordinarily rich and varied cultural heritage - all these make India an unlikely nation-state. And yet this great nation was brought together by Mahatma Gandhi's genius and the untiring efforts of our founding fathers.
Happily, we disproved the forebodings of sceptics and doomsayers, and continue to endure as one nation united, and yet celebrating our rich diversity and preserving our liberty. Increasing urbanisation, growing middle classes and a vibrant young population unburdened by past baggage make our bonds of unity stronger everyday.
Unity and liberty alone are not sufficient. Our long-suffering people need prosperity, opportunity, true empowerment and a clean and efficient political and governance system that can help fulfil our aspirations and make us stand tall and proud. In these spheres, we have a long way to go. This is time for introspection.
Poor infrastructure and fractious politics with a lust for power sans purpose are perpetuating mass poverty and suffering. Appallingly poor quality of education and healthcare are perpetuating caste oppression and denying the bulk of our children the opportunity to fulfill their potential and realise their dreams. The recent parliamentary paralysis underscores our deepening political and governance crisis. Centralisation in a vast and complex nation is holding all of us back. Weak, disempowered local governments and inefficient, dysfunctional bureaucracy are sapping our energies and weakening our morale. A corrupt, plutocratic, plunder-driven political process that seeks power devoid of public purpose is making our democracy hollow. Law's delays and unequal application of laws are undermining rule of law.
All these challenges can, and must, be addressed swiftly. We do not have the luxury of time to wait indefinitely to set things right. The rest of the world marches ahead. In a globalised world our inadequacies will make future generations pay a heavy, intolerable price.
We need a sense of urgency and purpose to overcome our failings. Democracy cannot be an alibi for failure. This is the time to resolve to reengineer our instruments of state to make them a vibrant machine to take us to our destination. Our people deserve better lives; our children deserve greater opportunity, our nation deserves a pride of place in the world. It is time empty rhetoric and shibboleths give way to resolute action. It is never too late. If we now act, by 2022, when we complete 75 years of freedom, India can overcome all our shortcomings and march ahead unhindered. Let us aim at that goal and transform India. That is the only ambition worthy of our great national movement and our glorious civilisation." - Dr Jayaprakash Narayan, Lok Satta founder