India celebrates her 70th Independence Day tomorrow. In a way, it is the 70th Children’s Day of the Sovereign Democratic Republic Of India. Fortuitously, it falls this year during the celebrations of the festival of Janmasthami- the Birth Day of Lord Krishna or Krishna Avtar Day. Who else symbolizes childhood better than Lord Krishna? There is such a huge treasure of poetry of the most sweet and sublime class, so much of art work, so much of sculpting trying to portray the childhood expressions on a baby face that even the most rational is bound to succumb to the persuasions of a poet, artist, painter, singer or sculptor to experience the ecstasy for some lucky moments or the whole life. What is the value of childhood and how happy it can make a person is something to be only experienced. The child, whether one’s own or someone else’s, evokes the same feeling of joy, elation and transcendence. A society that cares for its children alone can claim to be a happy society. The childhood account of everything small or big done by Lord Krishna has been depicted by creative minds and joyfully so much still remains to be delivered. It is like holding the sky in your arms! It is so because the Lord did only Leelaa on Earth, especially in Brij, which was host to his childhood and still lives in his felt existence for the Brijwasis (inhabitants of Brij). Once a person immerses in Shri Krishna s/he enters higher consciousness and becomes one with Him.
He was the one who established the right of the child over milk and butter produced in Brij. He persuaded the producers not to sell it to the city dwellers in Mathura but give it to children who could not afford it free. Brij is the land of the vegetarians and milk and milk products constitute the most significant source of protein and calcium for them. He met the public resistance by disarming the Gopis (the milk maids) with his mesmerizing baby smile after helping himself along with his team liberally to butter kept in their homes hung high from the ceilings (the famous Dahi Handi celebration in Mumbai and other places is an attempt to recreate the same). There is nothing so high for children to reach it. Children can achieve anything if supported by parents and the society. It still left a few who opposed this child and stealthily tried to transport the butter to Mathura. Their vessels were hit with small stones and broken. They naturally complained to the mother asking for compensation, which they got in the form of his sweet justification and hypnotic smiles. As the child Krishna performed Leelaas he went on endearing Himself to the Gopis of Brij. He ensured nutrition for the children of Brij. These children ended the tyranny of Kansa, the king of Mathura.
Why am I recalling the well known narrative of Lord Krishna? There are two reasons for it: one, I am from Karauli in Rajasthan which is a part of Brij culturally. The Shri Madan Mohan Ji temple in Karauli has been celebrating Janmasthami for more than the 70 years of India’s Independence. My memories go back to the beginning of the decade of the 1950s. It was a celebration that I miss and regret here in Delhi. But the second reason I remember this special festival is the achievements of the Indian children in the 70 glorious years of its Independence. What is it that the children of India have not got in these 70 years?
Millions of children had the opportunity to access school education. It made revolutionary change in India. Before 1947 only the children of the rich and elite class had the good luck of access to school education. It produced a whole army of industrial workers. None of them, without exception, remained unemployed. Those who did not choose to take up workman’s job, continued with farming, but were the first ones to accept new methods of farming such as new seeds, fertilizers, pesticides. They were the people who brought about the Green Revolution in India- making a food deficit country into a food surplus country.
Those of them who could afford it and were eager to get college education or professional education could do so in these 70 years. The country turned in millions of highly qualified doctors, engineers, scientists and technicians. In the last 60 years, millions of these highly trained professionals were made available to the developed and developing countries by India, which could not initially absorb all of them. Today, the country is short of talented professionals as the speed of the march on the path of progress has been accelerated. The later half of the previous century saw “brain drain” from India to such an extent that there is an urgent need for “brain gain” today. Haven’t the children of India proved the point that they can achieve anything if there are opportunities- symbolized by getting butter from the high hung vessel of the milk maids!
There is no dearth of highly placed people like the national and international awardees or the high priests of the Fourth Estate who spread only gloom by comparing goals with achievements. Which country in the world can boast of 100% achievement of the goals set by themselves or the UNO for sustainable long term development? India has achieved upliftment, development and growth of more children than her population as on 15th August 1947. That is what the 70 years of the Independence of the country has done to them. And this is not the end- the journey continues. We are determined to make every child proud of her/his nation. We, the people of India, are duty bound to fulfil the pledge we have taken and enshrined in the preamble to the Constitution.
So May Lord Krishna help us and bless India!