Today is Jan 26th, 2018. It is India’s Republic Day. The day, India effected its new constitution and declared itself a “sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic Republic”.
For many years, Republic Day to me meant, “march past”. During my school days at Asan Memorial, i used to be a member of the Scouts (Digbe Beste Sea Scouts). And when the new year begins, we scouts and whole of lot of others begin our annual marching parade at the Marina, in preparation for the Republic Day. It was a profound honor, at least to me, to march with my battalion on that day, salute to the Governor, who would be stationed at the Gandhi Statue, to receive the guard of honour.
I also used to be enamoured by a similar parade, that is held in Delhi, on the Rajpath. And to be selected to participate in that parade was the ultimate honour for any scout or cadet. For me, that always has remained but a dream. And so every Republic Day, when i was older, i would wake up and wait to witness the parade telecast live on TV. It was always special if only to rekindle memories, and to bask in the glory of the nation i was born in, and to celebrate freedom we fought so hard.
Over the past few years, irrespective of the government that as ruled the country or the many different states and territories, their respect for the rule of the law has been scant to say the least. And since the emergence of the hindutva party, what little of such law was left, has been dumped on the wayside. Today unless you are rich, belonged to the upper class, or part of the ruling party, you had no rights worth protecting. If you belonged to the ‘other’ religion, which included Hindus, Muslims and some others, and if you raised your voice against this atrocious behaviour, you were treated as an anti-national, and showered with choicest blessings in foul language at best, or beaten up.
My misgiving of today didn’t happen in a day. It took a couple of years of constant eroding, of our constitutional values. A slow but steady, erosion of the value systems that were encoded in the constitution, which was developed after learning from our own past, and the many democracies that were established already. Fundamental rights, Human rights, Civil liberties, and many more were adopted from teachings and philosophies in human social advancement that were already in place. The Indian constitution also went further than most its times, for example making it one of the few, if not the only one that granted universal franchise from the very first day. And yet today all of these are being questioned, and whittled away. All in the name of hindutva, and taking the country back a few decades or even centuries. The post of contention was effectively moved from the middle, to a point, which would lead one to believe that one half of the country marched to a different band altogether. A religious hate mongering and terrorizing one at that. Where they wished the other half didn’t exist, and were ready to go to any extent to eliminate, remove or simply silence their voices.
I should be celebrating. Yet i contemplate. I worry of what we have made ourselves today. How much we have progressed, and yet how far backward we have regressed? I worry about the legacy we leave behind for our children.
I hold a prayer in my heart, as i close this. It is poem written by Rabindranath Tagore. It was also the very first blog i wrote in my life. We can pray, we can hope and we can fight to make them true.
Where the mind is without fear and the head held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening thought and action;
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake