Today is 26 January.
The date reminds me that I have turned 26 ( I have been obsessed with this number now). And then, it occurs to me that today is India’s Republic day. At 1 am in the night, it gets me wondering – what has this day meant to me and what does this day really mean to me today?
Till the age of 8, the word Republic day brought this product to my mind.
Although it was compulsory for students to come to school( there used to be an attendance call) on R-Day, I wondered why many of my friends skipped it every year ( Childhood Idiot Instance # 1). Mind you, Good Day biscuits were a delicacy back then, so this was pretty good incentive for me to toil through the sun-rays while contributing to the ‘large-audience-is-present-for-you’ effect for our R-Day chief guest. I believed my teacher for 5 years when she said that only students who attend the event get these biscuits. Turns out, no one comes and schools are left with huge inventory of biscuits and have no choice but to distribute to everyone later.Or they played a huge joke on me by lying to me despite planning to give these to everyone anyway. (Childhood Idiot Instance # 2).
I stopped attending R-Day at school after that due to 2 reasons –
- I grew smarter
- The biscuits became worse. Some unheard brand that even dogs wouldn’t touch.
I narrated my predicament to my father on how I had nothing to do on Republic Day. He had a solution – he would take me with him to his office R-Day celebrations. This was a better prospect since I realized that I got an incentive upgrade. This :
Kaju Katli! Government offices are really generous when it comes to spending public money for refreshments on such occasions. I used to quietly sneak the table where plates filled with samosas, chips,amongst other things, and stealthily eat just the Kaju Katlis from every plate, leaving everything else untouched. I do not regret that act to date. ( Childhood Smartness Instance #1)
I grew up and then my social science teachers taught me ( or rather thought so) the importance of Republic day by dictating answers to ‘thought-provoking’ questions like
- Republic Day is celebrated on _______
- On what day is Republic Day celebrated ?
- Write a short note on Republic Day.
It saddens me to say that Sunny Deol in Border inspired me to study about our country and its constitution more than my social studies teachers.Sorry teachers. I love and respect you to death for making me who I am, but I still stand by this. Not your fault, but doesn’t make it untrue. It is altogether another fact that Suniel Shetty almost grossed me out in the same movie with this immortal hideous act.
Fast forward the next few R-Days which I spent sleeping at home, although this was the image I dreamt of.
I have always been fascinated with how so much precision in movement is possible. These soldiers make me beam with pride – the only feeling that has stayed constant in my mind about R-Day since then. It was for these people ( and for the yummy breakfast) that I used to wake up every R-Day in hostel ( and wake other people up) at IIT.
I finished my studies and joined a school in Govandi, Mumbai as a Teach for India fellow, I was suddenly on the other side of the table – organize a school republic day function, make kids rehearse the same song every year. I did that for the first year without any complaints – wake up at 6 am, get to school,make sure students stand in line, tell them the same lies my teachers told me about the sweets- I did it all.
In the second year, the same thing happened. Smooth start to the day as the tri-color was hoisted by the chief guest at 8 am sharp. He then stepped on to the stage to deliver an R-Day speech.
The guest was Abu Azmi – the MLA of the Mankhurd Shivaji Nagar.( You might better remember him as the father-in-law of Ayesha Takia).
The man delivered a hate speech, targeted to arouse the sentiments of 600 young Muslim children and incite hate. Yes, I have been a live witness to a hate speech and I could do nothing about it.(I even had it on tape for sometime before deleting it)
I have never attended any Republic Day celebration anywhere after that.
Today, if I think about what the Republic Day really means to me, my mind occasionally does remind me of these words –
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
But I do know that these words just stay on paper. I cannot talk about the word secular when such moronic websites and their patrons are allowed to exist.( Do pay it a visit for comic effect, though). A country that works for a few vested interests cannot be ever called socialist. When courts work on weekends for a rich actor, but not for the poor thief who stole to feed his family, justice cannot be talked about. If I have to fear about what I write (which I honestly have, and probably if some read this post, I can expect some ‘adarsh-liberal’ snide remarks directed at me) , liberty is non-existent.
I don’t think I need to elaborate. I have tried very hard not to sound skeptical about our country, but once in a few years, the frustration does come out.
So what am I going to do this R-Day?
Sleep a bit more than usual and then, work, as if it was a normal day. Convince friends and young people to work on problems that matter. Hopefully, get some of them to work with me, by directing them to this page.
Happy R-Day !