By Rahul Jayaraman (L&T MHPS Boilers)
The 26th day of every January has been and shall always be a special day, not just for Indians but for the entire word as the day marked the enforcement of one of the most people oriented constitution in the world. It not only celebrated the citizens under its purview but also successfully encompassed all of its cultural and social diversity under one umbrella which is INDIA. Never before did any country achieve such an amazing feat so young in its life. The annual Republic day parade never fails to fill our hearts with pride and sheer joy as goose-bumps runs down our spine when the national anthem is played and our jawans march down Rajpath with a feeling which is nothing less than sheer delight! But 67 years since we celebrated our first Republic day, has the day lost its sheen or is the sheen merely an illusion we are projecting to the world? Has the day lost its essence and what it signifies are questions which need to be answered by those who call themselves proud Indians on certain days?
Year after year we invite the most powerful and influential people in the world to witness a spectacle beyond all measure. A careful and orchestrated parade, jam-packed with thousands of proud citizens relishing each and every moment as they bask in the glory of this mighty country. The guests more often than not return back to their countries in awe of our country which is nothing short of blessed by the almighty. But what they fail to see behind all the choreographed theatrics is a country which is deeply divided and highly volatile. They fail to see and hear the multitude of people whose only wish is to abandon their country and have comfortable lives elsewhere which sometimes coincides with the countries our guests are from. They only see the people who adorn Rajpath on one particular day apparently proud of their culture and their nationality, a phenomenon which can only be described as deeply disturbing.
This raises a serious question and an urgent need for deep introspection. Can we truly call ourselves patriotic amidst all this blatant hypocrisy? Certain factions of this country refuse to chant “Bharat Mata ki Jai” just because it is religiously offensive to them. More than 30% of our population is in the shackles of poverty and most of us are intentionally oblivious to this fact. We care for our caste and religion more than our nationality. In a cultural hub like Delhi and many other metropolitan cities around the country, many people who have migrated from the south and north-east are still made to feel uncomfortable because of their appearance and often fall victim to discrimination and racial jibes. The news of a soldier who was martyred on the border is just another piece of news on the national section but never have taken out time from our personal lives to respect their ultimate sacrifice except for some special days reserved in a year. Public littering, lack of respect for law and order, inefficient public servants and equally hypocritical citizens as was witnessed after the demonetization fiasco has proved that no one seems to appreciate the notion of patriotism and one’s own country anymore.
And yet, come Republic Day and we all are suddenly overcome with boundless love for our homeland. All are flooded with WhatsApp messages and elaborate Facebook posts about how much they love their country. We see people posting pictures of food items resembling the tricolour and how they feel patriotic by just seeing what on a regular day would have been an ordinary platter of food. But the sad truth is that the day has become nothing more than a day of respite from the constant drudgery of daily life for more than a billion people to such an extent that we even tend to postpone going to the flag hoisting ceremony our resident welfare association enforces upon us. Are we truly patriotic is the gloomy question that arises out of the abyss that this country is heading towards and one which we must all address urgently. And if the answer to the question is yes, what would you call a jawan standing in the hellish terrain of Siachen saluting the Indian flag.
It is a sad fact that such days observed periodically in this country have reduced to nothing more than a day for convenient patriotism and one which we love to enjoy – in the wrong way.