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Many Wishes For India: May It Continue To Celebrate The Richness Of Religious Diversity
As we enter the new year, I want to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt best wishes to and for India and Indians. Because of COVID-19, 2020 has been an extremely trying year. We have all had to try harder.
We have done so across the board and it is starting to pay off. Vaccines are now being distributed in the UK, the US, in other countries and will soon be distributed across India.
That is a reason for hope and to be of good cheer as we enter the holidays. I am confident that we will have many other reasons for hope and good cheer in 2021.
That said here are my wishes for India and Indians for:
* The Indian national holidays
* The Indian religious holidays
* The issues that are confronting India domestically
* India in the South Asian region
* India’s relations internationally
My wishes for India’s national holidays in 2021 are as follows:
For Republic Day, I wish that this constitutional democracy remains strong and serves as a beacon of hope for democracy in a global world where nations are becoming increasingly autocratic.
For Independence Day, I wish that Indians celebrate not only independence from the United Kingdom but also their interdependence on one another.
For Gandhi Jayanti, I wish that we remember and do what Mahatma Gandhi advised. That is “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Each of us must be that change to help make India and the world a brighter and better place.
My wish for all of the religious holidays is that they be used to demonstrate what strong and inclusive faiths can do to unite rather than divide.
My wishes for India on the domestic front focus on the economy, poverty, education, health, and climate change.
For the economy, I wish for a great rebound in both the growth of the GDP and the development of millions of jobs that promote IEW (Individual Economic Well-Being).
For poverty, I wish that it continues to decrease and the governmental, business, and philanthropic sectors collaborate to reduce the numbers of those in need of assistance
For education, I wish that all Indians regardless of caste or class receive the primary and secondary education and the advanced education and training they need to be productive members of the workforce.
For health, I wish that all Indians receive covid-19 vaccinations, the health services they need, and that the national health system moves forward toward becoming world-class
For climate change, I wish for the total commitment to making the air clean to breathe, the streams clean to swim in, and the earth pollution-free.
My general wish for India in the South Asian region is that it continues to be a leader and increases its influence in promoting regional connectivity that produces economic, cultural, and societal benefits for all while eliminating extremism, radicalism, and terrorism.
My general wish for India internationally is that it continues to emerge as a major player on all fronts and a force for democracy around the world. My specific wish relates to India’s relation with the United States. It is that the relationship changes from the transactional one that exists with the President Donald Trump administration to the strategic and 'indispensable' partnership that was being developed with the former president Barack Obama administration.
This partnership between the world’s two largest democracies would significantly enhance trade and commerce, security, and social and civic capital for both great nations.
My final wish for India in 2021 is:
One nation under God.
Its God would not be a Hindu God, a Muslim God, or a Christian God.
Its God would be ecumenical and non-denominational.
Its God would be welcoming to all.
Its God would not discriminate nor encourage discrimination.
As one nation, India would celebrate and embrace the richness of religious diversity
As one nation, India would elevate citizenship above partisanship and bring people together to pursue the common good
As one nation, India would be the place known for sharing and caring as opposed to blaming and shaming
As one nation, India would emphasise building bridges instead of constructing boundaries and barriers
As one nation, India would ensure that all of its people are literate and equipped with the skills to succeed in the 21st century.
In total, those are my holiday and new year wishes for India and Indians for 2021.
I make them fully aware that wishing will not make something happen. I also know, however, that not wishing means nothing will ever happen.
In 2021, it will be time for each and all of us to do the hard work that will be required to start converting those wishes into reality. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and collaborating with the citizens of my birth land of India in doing that work.
Happy holidays and a happy new year to all. May 2021 be a year of communal peace and harmony in India and progress on our wish-fulfilment journey.
-- By Frank F. Islam
(The writer is an entrepreneur, civic and thought leader based in Washington DC. The views expressed are personal)
(This article has been reproduced here in arrangement with the South Asia Monitor. It can be accessed at https://southasiamonitor.org)