We all have seen the movie Slumdog Millionaire, where Jamal Malik, a boy who had a very humble beginning– lived in a slum and was separated from his family because of riots at an early age. As the movie proceeds, Jamal experiences a series of struggles that shapes his life’s journey at the end of the movie. He was bullied as a kid because his parents were dead, leaving him with nothing but abject poverty; he was neither wealthy nor educated, had to jump in the cesspit to get an autograph, suffered from destitution.
He and his brother were almost caught and blinded by a gang of criminals who ran a begging racket. The movie shows how children who are separated from their parents or children suffering from abject poverty conjure ways to earn a livelihood. Sometimes they steal shoes at the temple, and sometimes they steal food from a running train, sometimes deceit and fraud. In the case of Latika, she had to earn her livelihood by entertaining men. While opting for unconventional ways to make money, Jamal‘s brother Salim enters the criminal world.
The movie ends with Jamal and Latika reuniting, where Jamal has won one crore rupee at a reality show, and Jamal‘s brother Salim is murdered into a bathtub full of cash. This story confirms with emotions of people who feel victorious when an innocent man who was bullied before comes out as a winner in the end. The plot of the movie Slumdog millionaire resonates with 1.25 billion Indians too. India was an infant economy at the time of independence because it suffered for centuries at the hands of British rule.
Later on, owing to Cold War tensions, the Indian leadership was forced to make some tough decisions that shaped the future of the country. But India in 2021 is no longer the India it used to be in the 1960s. Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent birthday wishes to the Dalai Lama on his 86th birthday on a public platform. This is the first time after 2015 that the Dalai Lama is publicly acknowledged by the PM. When the Indian prime minister met their Chinese counterpart in Wuhan in 2018, the Indian government had to cancel all the celebrations commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Dalai Lama‘s arrival in India. Before this, The PM wished the Dalai Lama on his birthday via a phone call to avoid Chinese wrath.
India, by publicly wishing the Dalai Lama, further confirmed the statement that India is no longer the weak and needy nation. India and China have been at crossroads for a long time. The Indian leadership before were always cautious in their statements related to China so that it doesn’t upset Beijing. China has repeatedly retaliated against countries that tried to contact and maintain relations with the Dalai Lama. But India does not fear China now, even after clashes like the Doklam stand-off and Galwan Valley skirmish, which left 20 soldiers dead. China has repeatedly stopped India’s entry into the prestigious Nuclear Suppliers Group NSG and uses Pakistan as a tool against India. China also uses the policy of string of pearls and belt and Road initiative BRI to cocoon Indian advances.
The Indian economy in the 1960s suffered from poverty, poor economic indicators, poor literacy rate, poor healthcare services, poor education, poor infrastructure, high death rate, high infant mortality rate, et cetera. The Indian agriculture industry was unable to feed its population in the 1960s. Former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri had to appeal to the Indian masses to fast on Monday. Apart from famines during British rule, the Indian economy faced starvation in 1967, 1973, 1979 and 1987 in states like Bihar, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Gujarat. India had to use its gold as collateral to avail loans; it had to open up its economy in 1991 for the restructure and re-development package from World Bank and IMF.
The Indian diplomacy, while dealing with other countries, did not have bargaining power or the resources to stick to their point. Amidst all these crises, India had to face wars with Pakistan and China; Indian defence, weaponry and technology were terrible then. It is one of the reasons why India registered a shameful defeat in the 1962 Indo-China war.
But the Indian dynamics have changed rapidly as time flew by. India is the fifth-largest economy in the world; it is one of the biggest markets owing to its population size; India is the second-most populous country in the world. As far as defence is concerned, India is now the fourth-strongest military in the world and has the third-largest defence budget in the world. The Indian defence has seen new additions like Rafale fighter jets, Tejas aircraft, Apache helicopter, Israeli light machine guns, S400 missile defence system, Agni P missiles, anti-tank weapons, anti-drone systems, beyond visual range missiles BVR, guided bombs and anti-airfield weapons the list is endless.
Apart from this, the Indian Space Research Organisation ISRO created history when they landed 104 satellites in earth’s orbit from a single rocket launch, PSLV-C37. Indian Space department also shook the world when they successfully landed an orbiter on Mars on the first try. Mars Orbiter Mission MOM was also the cheapest mission to Mars in the entire universe. India has also developed its positioning system called Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System IRNSS, officially known as NAVIC. India provided its neighbouring countries NAVIC’s services. Apart from this, India has strengthened its position in the international market tremendously. The round-the-clock international trips of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi with delegations across the world achieved this feat. Countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who favour Pakistan, did not raise their voices against India in UNGA when article 370 was abrogated. When Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by Pakistan in 2017, the USA had to mediate between India and Pakistan to avoid war, and Pakistan had to free Wing Commander Abhinandan.
China recently celebrated hundred years of the Chinese communist party. In the keynote address, the Chinese president Xi Jinping said that any foreign organisation or movement that tries to challenge Chinese supremacy would face dangerous consequences. The statement was a warning issued against countries and organisations that are trying to bring China down. Apart from this, the Chinese government published a white paper in 2021 where the next successor of the Dalai Lama has to be approved by the Chinese government. The Chinese want to disregard the historical process of choosing the successor of the Dalai Lama and use the new successor as a puppet to impose control on the Tibetans in India. When India granted refugee to the Dalai Lama after China tried to capture him, it was a blow in its face.
India is also one of the countries which recognise Tibet and its government in exile. India and the United States of America have joined forces to neutralise the Chinese pressure on choosing the successor of the Dalai Lama. India won’t recognise the Chinese voice, and the US has passed a law to oppose Chinese choice. The US president Joe Biden has scheduled a meeting with the Dalai Lama. The Prime Minister, by this statement, reinstated India’s influence in the geopolitics of the region. The statement also sends a strong message to China that India is no longer the India of 1962; it will defend and attack if needed.