Of those three descriptors, 'sovereign' goes without saying -- India has been, since attaining freedom from British rule in August 1947, the master of its own destiny.
'Democratic', is equally self-evident. In fact, some would, after observing the periodic convulsions that rack our body politic, say it was too self-evident.
But 'Republic'? That is the one aspect of our existence, as a nation, that we often fail to take into consideration. What does it mean to be a 'Republic'? What does it entail? How does it impact on our polity? On our lives?
We neither know nor, mostly, care.
On January 26, 2000, we celebrate 50 years as a Republic.
And we at rediff.com figure this is as good a time as any to turn the focus on this little-noticed side to our nation, with a special section focusing on India as a Republic. Its past. Its present. Its future.
This special section will have five distinct facets. One will focus on those extraordinary people that make up this great country. These genuine Indian heroes, though mostly unhonoured and unsung, have changed the quality of our lives by their acts of concern and courage, caring and kindness -- acts that have impacted on the lives of those around them.
Another will encourage the nation's achievers, both at home and abroad, to contribute their vision for India in the coming years.
A third sub-section will glance at the current debate over the Constitution, to examine the arguments for and against changing that historic document which the founding fathers drafted to guide the Republic. Some of the nation's leading constitutional experts and leaders will join this discussion from time to time.
The fourth segment will look at the larger issues, the ones the politicians shy away from simply because they dare not tackle problems of this magnitude head on. Poverty. Education. Elemental infrastructure. Health. Corruption. The Environment. This section will examine the big problems that collectively shackle the country's growth and, where possible, spell out solutions.
That's from our side. Hopefully, the contents will spark a debate participated in by our readers. And hence, the fifth segment: A Message Board where we encourage readers to join a year-long discussion that should evolve into a crystallised vision for our Republic and its future.
The Republic, 50 years on designed by Dominic Xavier
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