Which ever way you look at it, 60 is a fine milestone. Institutions celebrate their diamond jubilee when they turn 60. Individuals mark their sashtiabdhapoorthi when they turn 60. But when a republic turns three score, as India does on 26 January, it is an opportune moment to lean back and look into the rear-view mirror.
Have we accomplished the mission of our founding fathers (and the odd mother), the Constitution-makers? Are the three pillars of our democracy—the legislature, the executive, the judiciary—in better shape than when we moved into them? Have we erased the social and economic imbalances, inequalities and inequities? Have we made the laws, built the institutions, set in motion the processes that could result in a just, free, fair society down to the last man (and woman and child)?
Or, are we crumbling and coming apart, as evidenced by the criminalisation of the legislature, the undercurrent of casteism and communalism, and the bottomless corruption that now seems to have afflicted the judiciary, the armed forces and the media? With a third of the districts under “red menace”, with growing regionalism, and the threat of terrorism, are we just sitting on a tinderbox, lucky if we see our way in the present shape to the platinum jubilee?
Do our GDP growth rate and stock market figures hide the rot within?