Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This year's Independence Day

I was at Badrinath on the eve of Independence Day. I was put up in a GMVN rest-house, where the Intelligence had even done a hurried check in all the rooms the night before.

At eight in the morning, I finished my tea and watched the PM address. With the ridiculous mountain-of-a-molehill unrest in Jammu, terror attacks in Bangalore and Ahmedabad, failing monsoons, inflation, slowdown and infrastructural collapses n the backdrops, I expected a hard-edged speech; if not of the proportions of 'Blood, sweat, toil and tears', at least, an honest look-in into why we are increasing becoming a nation of hyperboles, hypocricies and farce. Instead, it turned out to be a rally cry for the elections. A camera sweep over the audience showed rows and rows of VVIPs.

The day before, I had seen a cavalcade of Maruti Omnis being given top priority by the cops in a jam since they carried a A4 sheet printout stuck to the windscreen of 'VIP Person on board'.

India, I despaired, has become the nation of priviliges; the rights of the individual usurped by the overweening rights of the powerful elite; the socialistic principles by the feudal.

A knock at the door and I was informed that there was a minor flag hoisting. Steppping out, this is the scene that greeted me. As the caretaker, genially bungled with the flag, a small spontaneous crowd silently gathered over and stood respectfully in silent attention.

A lot of politicians - Leftists, Sangh Parivar, Thackrey - arrogate on themselves the right of speaking for the nation: how it has been insulted, how it can never accept such and such and, of course, the culture. Similarly, industrialists turn the country's best brains into their slaves and profess that the policies they lobby for are in the nation's best interests, and only incidentally theirs.

But India is much bigger than that: bigger than the sum total of all of us. All of us have our own India. It does not need to be shouted, rallied for and bludgeoned into the masses. It is a private communion and no-one has the right to violate that.

On a similar note, it's heartening to note the steps taken by this school to supend the absentees - I feel it is the part of the fixing of the broken window that is the need of the hour.

If we as people can't show the minimal respect to the collective, the collective that stands for ensuring the sacrosanctity of our private rights, we're never going to go much ahead on the road to dignity, forget success.

India starts within.


pankajunk said...

i was wondering if you had missed out "dis" when you wrote "heartning". suspending school children for not attending the independence day function does come across as didactic and draconian. i personally have prefered people who display a "community spirit" and a sense of social responsibility, rather than people who display an inlflexible and unconsidered nationalism of the kind where you give "symbols" an almost god-like status, and get all teary eyed when the national anthem plays etc. i've also noticed that prosperous nations are a lot more secure, where it comes to these "symbols" (bikney's with stars and stripes, mainstream jokes directed at the PM, President, historical figures etc).

whats next? one has to stand to attention when the anthem plays in a movie?

Perhaps i got you all wrong..

ramya sriram said...

hey wow, i stopped by your blog after a long time.. so many piled up posts to read.

was awesome :)