‘The tightrope walk and intense international scrutiny will create piquant situations for India’
Indira Gandhi visits Pokrahn, 1974
From Outlook India:
Even at the worst of times, we Indians have had an exalted notion of ourselves and our nation. Perhaps our hubris is rooted in our being an ancient civilisation, of having discovered the nuances of urban planning two millennia before the Romans, of having produced sophisticated philosophical treatises and a rich body of literature long before much of the world forsook the nomadic life. It’s we who showed the world the power of non-violence, overthrowing the British colonial masters and establishing a democracy in which every person had equal rights. Our forays in space and atomic research, best symbolised through Pokhran-I in 1974, were testimony to India’s brain power that overcame grinding poverty to herald the wonder that is India.
But this wonder called India didn’t impress the modern powers. The world, we sullenly noted, respected those countries which could create wealth and influence events beyond their national boundary. We didn’t possess these attributes of power in a substantial measure. And then, as they say, India decided on yet another tryst with destiny—we embraced market economy, galloped ahead in information technology, and registered astonishing growth. A habitual backbencher, India took a ringside seat in the global amphitheatre. Soon we wanted to be in the ring, jousting with the powers.