Saturday, 26 January 2013

Republic Day

The Republic Day celebration brings us face to face with the reality and makes middle aged people, like yours truly think about the reality. After so many years of existence as a citizen of a free and democratic country one would surely be allowed to contemplate about the nation on a holiday. As I watch the finely orchestrated Republic Day parade, a sense of complacent wellness permeates the senses even as I settle down bleary eyed on the couch to watch the spectacle and pass the morning without actually doing anything productive for the country.

The question which comes to mind thereafter and nag my conscience is what is that I should do to celebrate this Day? A big blank stares at me as I am neither ready nor willing to submerge myself into the festivity like I used to do at a much younger age. In the early years of life the R day was an occasion to attend school but not study. Later as I understood the significance of the day,I felt duty-bound morally to celebrate the day. Many a times this day has been spent in picnics as the weather generally remains cold and sunny. And I participated year after year like a true patriotic Indian, the R Day.Wen my son was growing I tried to instill the notions of patriotism in him and celebrated the Day. But now I find that neither do I have the same feelings nor do I have the same commitment. Also the absence of a dictat or compulsio to attend the flag hoisting ceremony anywhere, in the true spirit of the rights that I enjoy as a free citizen of the country makes me lazy and dissociated from the efforts of other citizen, probably more patriotic and well meaning than me.

But nowadays when I look on this sort of celebrations, I feel that an all pervasive bitter cynicism takes over me. Very unfortunate but so true. Does that mean I have become patriotic. Or is it that I can no more relate to the country,the government,the democracy or the people. Nothing brings that fervour,that excitement in me even though I know that I am personally a beneficiary of the freedom,democracy and the progress of our beloved nation.

Irreverent, silly and morbid thoughts comes to my mind as I watch the parade on the TV, so aptly named idiotbox,perhaps for idiots like me. As the PM observes silence and the occasion is so sombre, I can't but help observing that he is doing what he does best by being silent. The defense minister and the VP look like a combination of Mridangam player and a Quawwal to me. The Army chief looks so much unfit and his potruding belly is so much visible in spite of his smart tunic that he looks like a well fed round bovine. The Chief guest looks like he has been ordered yesterday to attend the function as a standbye ,as no one else was willing to attend. I find that even though the President of the country tries his best to preside over the function, it is the president of the ruling party who seems to be the centre of attraction. But I can't find her reclusive son in the crowd. Neither her cocky son-in-law.

The leader of the opposition is wearing an English style cap to save his bald head from the cold or the sun, whatever it may be. His gaze has a resigned look about it as if he has accepted the fact that he will sit in that chair for the next six years, too. The home minister seems to be most elated as if he has been rewarded the highest civilian award of getting a chance to sit beside Madam herself, maybe because of his recent foolish utterances about terrorism. Other ministers and VIP s bask in the bright sunlight as they savour their proximity to the power centre and the fruits of the Republic.Among the crowd of so called distinguished persons being shown , there is nobody, no one , not a single person who evokes respect as a person or leader, minus the trappings of their designation, rank or post.

The procession of the tableaus start and I become restless. It all looks so old styled and bereft of imagination or innovation. What is new in what they want to showcase? A sense of deja vu creeps upon me. Still I start liking the show and by the time the young bravehearts come on the screen, I am enthused enough to break into clapping. As I enjoy the cultural diversity, I relocate the zest for life.

I am now certain that my initial lethargy and cynicism was because of my misplaced notion of equating the country with the politicians and the politics. I have erred in moving away from the people because of my aversion to the rulers. The daily grind of Mumbai to earn my living has insulated me from the country and its people. Watching idiots making their livelihood on the idiotbox has gradually made me cynical about the system. I need to stop this nonsense and detach myself from the noise. Politics and politicians may be important but they are not the only thing about the country. More important are the people. The real spirit of democracy is about understanding people and appreciating different cultures. Maybe Its time for me to start visiting places in the country.

People will point out to the inadequacies of the system and the democracy or the constitution and stress on changing the laws or making new laws to tackle the prevailing situation. I fully appreciate their concerns but do not totally agree with this view point. I believe that there are enough laws and rights of citizens are upheld very well in our constitution. What is required is to ensure the rule of law. Having laws but not adhering to them or worse still delaying the process of justice defeats the purpose itself. What we need now at this juncture is not new laws but ensuring that the process of justice and administration is strengthened within the existing framework instead of playing to the gallery and paying lipservice to the sentiment of the people . And more importantly the participation of citizens to uphold the rights which are enshrined in the constitution. There is no need to categorize people as tribals, dalits,minority,women,farmer,labour etc and have new laws for each section. Instead use the extant provisions of law and ensure that the guilty are booked within a short period.That will itself reiterate confidence on the democratic system and ensure that the government is actually by the people,of the people and more importantly for the people.

Let the Republic flourish. We have received it as a legacy from our fathers and grandfathers. We should make it certain that we pass on this legacy to our sons and grandsons with greater value added it. Long live the Republic of India.

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