The 1950s Blunder

As I was reading one of the books written in the 1960s about India, I couldn’t help thinking about the challenges and the opportunities that people must have felt at India’s Independence. True, we started off Freedom with plenty of challenges — Partition, Gandhi’s assassination, Kashmir and the Princely States integration into India. It took a few years to sort them out.It wasn’t even clear at that time that India could stay together as a single country.

So, when the 1950s started and most of the problems were behind us, there must have been a sense that finally our destiny was in our hands. Looking at India now, I cannot help feeling that we made more than a few wrong turns as a country during that decade. None have hurt us more than the lack of investment in primary education. As my friend, Atanu Dey, once put it, “All we needed to do was to educate one generation of Indians.” And we failed them. That blunder continues to haunt us even today – and we still haven’t got it right. And we still don’t hold those who made the blunder accountable.