Goosebumps all over! That’s how my body greets the dawn of 26th of January every year. “Yay! It’s the Republic Day!” A day to sense the spirit of the people’s nation! A day to enjoy the pride of its varied and rich heritage! A day to sense the spirit of being an Indian! The Republic Day ceremony usually shows it all. Few (like me😜) are glued to the television, afraid to miss even a second of the procession at New Delhi. From the first call at the India Gate (Prime Minister’s tribute at the Amar Jawan), to the beating retreat ceremony, this day binds you with zeal.
Our Republic Day is the celebration of the enactment of the Indian constitution as the official governing document of our country. A total independence from the British rule, the Government of India Act (1935) finally came to an official end. This may be the significance of Republic Day for people who know more about the history of 26th of January. Significance for people who feel concerned about their country! What about the rest of India?
Republic Day: The Preparation
I shall reflect light on some personal experience. The days before the event. Basically getting to the roots of our country, the common man! See where the country stands even today.
- Let’s rewind a week. I am at a crossroad, waiting for the signal to turn green. A middle aged man, I see, trying to sell tricolour table tops. Barely succeeding. No one seems interested in them. The signal turns green, and I too left with the flow.
This man, he may, or may not know what the upcoming day signifies. He may not be aware of its importance. He may not even know that the day he’s selling these for, is called the Republic Day. But he seems interested in it. For the poor common man, Republic day signifies new earning opportunity. It means him selling some “country-related” items which would bring him and his family enough fortune to sleep tummy tight for a day or two.
- Forward three days. A policeman, returning home, a little exhausted. He has been practicing for the republic day parade all day. For him this day is like his pride, the day of his virtue.
- Two days passed. I saw a school student busy learning his Republic Day speech. For him this day is an important one. He has learnt about Independence and Republic day in his school. He has evolved love for his country since childhood. He’s getting a chance to speak this out in his school’s celebration.
- It is the noon before Republic Day. Almost all squares are full of tricolour or patriotic theme items shops. I can see small children with numerous small flags in their hands, selling them. They know it’s a festival. Some have never been to school. Others will spend the next day selling these flags and items. They need to earn some money rather than attending the functions. How will an innocent little boy honour the day when he’s hungry?
The country became free of the British government and finally its last symbol, (that was the Government of India Act 1935). But even after 66 years, the country is not free of poverty, hunger, child labour, malnutrition etc. Although, the little boys know nothing about it. They long to attend school. they wish learning something about the on-goings as they see eager children shopping with their parents. Few who have never been to school ask their illiterate parents. They are satisfied , although the answers may not be true.
- For now, all important buildings, offices, schools are ready for the processions. While almost all the shops, few vehicles, buses already harbor a small paper National flag. Not many could be seen fallen on the ground. But that seems to be small wait. Few youth organs have lifted stalls, with speakers. They would be playing few patriotic songs tomorrow before dancing to their modern item numbers.
The Republic Day emerges! The sun has already risen, however not totally. There is a cold breeze outside. I can listen to few patriotic songs already playing. Everyone is busy with the preparation. Analise the events happening today.
- A small child, getting ready for his school, with a flag in his little hand, a tricolor badge on his shirt, which he insisted to buy the other day. He is really excited. He doesn’t really know what the Republic day is celebrated for. He hopes to understand some day. He has already practiced salute and even boasted having learnt the national anthem. May he grow to be a patriot?
- I am on my way to attend the function. I can see some teenagers. They are three-three on a bike, a large flag in their hands. Tricolored cheeks. Young Patriots! Suddenly they start screeching. Now there’s another group passing by the opposite lane. Seeing these people, they too screamed uselessly and passed away. Young Patriots!
Rowdy Patriots.Rowdy Youths, perhaps. That’s it!
Like every year, the procession passed peacefully with pride and honor. What a great feeling it is to salute the flag flying high with might. Now on my way to home, I met :
- The same species of school kids, happily returning home.
- Some wise young faces, who at least know to respect and honor the country and the day.
- The major breed of youths, hooliganism filled!
- The same poor group of roughly dressed little children selling flags, vehicle by vehicle to ignorant faces.
- The same poverty, and homeless mass,
And the spirit of the Republic day fading away slowly! Very sooner we will find these flags lying on the ground and nobody caring about it. The national Holiday slowly comes to a premature end.
This has been for years. Every passing year of my life, the same scenario emerges up. Thinking or writing few lines for this would never mean anything. Even I have been among the mute and blind spectators of this drama. Have I done anything to change this? No!
Once I picked up a Tiranga lying down in the mud. Let me initiate the situation. I saw the paper flag lying down. At first I avoided. Then I thought that it’s an insult. I resolved to pick it up. The whole process took me almost 15 to 20 mins. Why? Simply because I was shy to do it with somebody watching. I waited till the place was lone. A complex, which exist in almost 90% of people. For now, I am proud to have at least tried and done. When will people stop shying from these kinds of small acts?
I feel proud that I have never been on bikes with flags screaming all the way. Neither on Republic day, nor on Independence Day! What honour do you earn for the flag with such of your acts? I feel better to be a silent patriot instead. I haven’t done anything for my country it, but I haven’t let it down even. And I won’t, and I know nobody would. But these small acts do. Hooliganism, dancing on item numbers etc. We know we cannot change this completely. And who are we to decide what’s patriotic and what’s not?
Few days ago, I heard news, where they said it’s not compulsory to stand for the national anthem. Of course nobody will force us. Nobody can. It’s us who need to feel the necessity to do it. We may say, the respect and honour lies in our hearts, What’s the need to show it? May I ask, if you respect and honour from within, what’s the need to hide it?
Is saluting the flag an act to shy about? Is standing for the National Anthem something to shy about? Is humming or singing patriotic songs something to shy about? I feel sorry to say but I have had personal experiences with all the threes. When will this change?
A country which is second most populated in the world lacks almost 15000 officers in the armed forces. Why is this situation today? Until school almost 90% of students love their “country” the most. Through the higher educational systems, the ratio decreases. Why? Who is to blame for this?
The Education System or Our System?
In our schools we learn about our country. We pledge every day. We sing the anthem every day. We deliver speeches. We sing patriotic songs. At an age, when we are not mature enough, we are taught all these aspects. When we move out of schools, this slowly fades away. Many colleges and universities don’t carry assemblies, pledges, or national anthem on days other than Independence Day or Republic day. At the age when we need the right direction being the citizens of the Nation, we are never actually shown. Neither at colleges or institutions, nor at home. This is sad.
We may not forget, this system has also produced numerous martyrs and patriots. They were not taught in any special schools or colleges. These youths and leaders nurtured themselves with the values. They themselves carried their feelings of nationalism and patriotism as they grew. Can’t we do the same?
This Republic day, let’s swear to help build a beautiful India, a country of values, patriots, nationalists. The Republic Day marks enactment of our Honourable Constitution. The constitution has enabled us a government of the people, by the people and for the people. We can change the government the way we want to. We can bring about reforms needed. We ourselves can Help our country win freedom from evils like poverty, corruption etc. The Republic Day is a symbol of people’s power. Republic Day is a symbol of people’s government. It’s a symbol of the significance of people’s choice. We should not let it fade away like it does each passing year. Let’s make this Republic day beautiful. beautiful with a beautiful heart full of love for the nation, respect for its founding fathers, honour for its martyrs and pride for being an Indian.
Friends, our nation surely has one of the greatest histories of the world. It is one of the best cultures worldwide. We need to nourish ourselves with our great past. We need to feed ourselves patriotism. Lighten your little lamp of nationalism which has been hidden for years within you. Republic Day marks our power. This power should be in responsible hands. Celebrate this Republic Day with honour and not with rage and rowdiness. Show an example of decency. Lets build what we need the most. Let’s build a beautiful Republic. Let’s build a Republic India.
Happy Republic Day
Disclaimer : The article is a personal opinion based on the author’s experiences. Through the writings, the author does not intend to hurt or insult anybody. His only motto is to raise awareness about this rare topic which arises only twice an year.