It’s been 70 years since we got independence. We have gained some things and lost some. Every year we start afresh and promise to bring a change. India as a country has also traveled a long way since its independence. While it made a lot of mistakes, it also got a lot of things right. Lets refresh our memories of some of India’s greatest achievements in the decade spanning 2005-2014.
Did you know that India is the world’s largest and oldest continuous civilization, and as per 1961 census, India had 1,652 languages? It also has the second largest pool of scientists and engineers in the world. As the world’s largest democracy, a country which is rich in culture and traditions, love and compassion, vision and passion, we often fail to thank the nation for what it has given us.
Between all the negative news and political drama the country has gone through, we have somehow forgotten that India still stands tall and has much more potential than we think it has. Today, as we stand at the cusp of another year, let’s think about all the wonderful achievements of India in the past decade and recall the moments where we have felt immense pride in calling ourselves “Indians”.
2014 – Polio Eradication
India’s last polio case was reported in West Bengal in January 2011 when a young girl was paralyzed by polio. Since then no other such case has been reported. In March 2014, The World Health Organisation certified the South-East Asian region – which includes India, a polio free region. WHO presented official certification to India for its ‘Polio Free’ status and the then Health and Family Welfare minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, collected the certificate.
A country with such a large population defeating polio is no mean feat, and that is a commendable victory which we all should be proud of.
2013 – Launch of Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) or Mangalyaan
November 5, 2013 was marked as one of the most significant days in Indian history. With the lift-off of Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft, India’s first interplanetary mission was executed. The spacecraft lifted off from from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 2.38 pm.
Mangalyaan entered Mar’s Orbit on September 24, 2014, making India the first Asian country and only the fourth country in the world to enter the Mars orbit in its first attempt. Mars Orbiter Mission’s objective is to collect data from the red planet and also showcase India’s rocket launch systems, spacecraft-building and operations capabilities.
2012 – Western Ghats Designated as World Heritage Site by UNESCO
The Western Ghats are considered as one of the eight “hottest hotspots” of biological diversity in the world. India applied to the UNESCO to include the Western Ghats in the World Heritage Sites list in 2006, and it was granted this status in 2012 along with 39 other places in India.
The range that starts at Gujarat is approximately 1,600 km long and ends at the southern tip of India in Kanyakumari. The area plays host to around 5,000 species of flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species, 179 amphibian species and 288 freshwater fish species. It is also believed that many undiscovered species live in the Western Ghats and at least 325 globally threatened species are also found here.
2011 – Anna Hazare’s anti corruption movement
When anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare began a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on April 5, 2011, the whole nation came together and stood by him. The movement led to the resignation of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar from the group of ministers that had been charged with reviewing the draft bill.
Anna was ranked as the most influential person in Mumbai by a national daily newspaper. The initiative gathered a huge number of people, making it a one-of-its-kind event in decades. It was also one of those rare events that demonstrated what is possible if the world’s largest democracy woke up to take the reins in its hands.
2010 – India won 101 medals in Common Wealth Games
Everyone remembers that India hosted the 2010 Common Wealth Games in Delhi, but mostly for the wrong reasons. However, it is also important to take note that we won 101 medals, including 38 gold, and acknowledge the hard work put in by the athletes. For the first time in the history of the Games, India won over 100 medals in total and stood in second position, after Australia. India won a gold medal in athletics after 52 years when Krishna Poonia won a Gold in Women’s Discus Throw.
2009 – Right To Education Act approved
One of the major achievement of the decade was the approval of the RTE bill by the Cabinet on July 2, 2009. Later on, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha passed the bill on July 20 and August 4, 2009 respectively. It finally received the president’s assent and was notified as a law on August 26, 2009. It was teh first time in the history of India that a law was brought into force by a speech by the Prime Minister.
The law came into effect all across India except Jammu & Kashmir on April 1, 2010. The RTE Act makes education as a fundamental right of every child and bridges the gap between different classes of society. It requires all private schools to reserve 25 percent seats for poor children. There might be some hitches in implementation in a vast country like India. But the passage of a landmark rule like this marked a giant step forward for the nation.
2008 – Abhinav Bindra won gold in Olympics
On August 11, 2008, Abhinav Bindra won the gold medal in the 10m Air Rifle event at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He became the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games. Apart from Bindra, wrestler Sushil Kumar won a bronze medal in the Men’s 66 kg Freestyle Wrestling category. Also, boxer Vijender Kumar became the first Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal after clinching the Bronze.
Cricket also saw its share of positive news when cricketer Sachin Tendulkar became the leading scorer in Test Cricket and the first batsman to score 12,000 runs in Test Cricket.
2007 Indian spacecraft SRE 1 successfully completes a twelve-day orbital test flight
The achievement made India one of the few nations to return a craft from orbit. SRE 1 is an Indian experimental spacecraft which was launched on January 10, 2007 from Sriharikota by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). It remained in orbit for 12 days and then re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere.
2006 – Reopening of Nathu la
The mountain pass in the Himalayas that connects Sikkim and Tibet is one of the three open trading border posts between China and India. It was sealed by India after the 1962 Sino-Indian War. The pass was reopened in 2006 which allowed various bilateral trade agreements between the two regions.
Though the decision has received mixed reviews, the step was expected to play an important role in the relations of the two countries. In spite of not meeting the expectations, the agreements between the two nations limit trade across the pass to 29 types of goods from India and 15 from the Chinese side. The opening also shortens the travel distance to important Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the region.
2005 – Right To Information act came into force
What can be considered as one of the most powerful tool for Indian citizens, was passed by Parliament on 15 June, 2005 and came fully into force on 13 October, 2005. The act aims “to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens” and replaces the erstwhile Freedom of Information Act, 2002. RTI is active in all states and union territories of India except Jammu and Kashmir.
The Official Secrets Act, 1923, did not allow disclosure of information. The launch of RTI Act has relaxed such rules and helped people to acquire any information they want from government officials. It was truly a feather in the cap of Indian Democracy, and gave India one of the most transparent governance systems in the world.
Image courtesy: Same as above