Festivities of national fervour that now have become over a fortnight long kaleidoscope grip the whole nation. And it has always had a top down orientation – from the government/administration to the public. Tomorrow, on our 70th Independence Day, prime minister Narendra Modi will deliver his third address to the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort. As the tradition goes, President Pranab Mukherjee addressed the nation this evening on the Independence Day eve.
Every government dispensation, from ministries to government institutions to educational institutions, all are coloured in shades of the tricolour – in letter and spirit (irrespective of its source). What is new with this NDA government is that is trying many new things, looking to revive the tales of nationalism which existed only as the subjects of school text books so far. So, that is a welcome step in that sense.
As the whole nation bathes in the tricolours of the Independence, there is a rush to cash the sentiments on, as happens every year. As happens, even our Independence Day has graduated to the scale where it has become a truly social event. While being a landmark day for us to revisit our freedom struggle and pay tributes to our nation liberators and builders, it is now also an extended occasion to enjoy some quality free time with family and friends. Add to it the marketing inventions. Every operator/vendor, from electronics/consumer durables industry to FMCG companies, is busy in extending ‘bumper discount offers’. With aviation boom in India, every carrier is shelling out cheaper air tickets than trains. Hotels and restaurants come up with customized menu for the occasion.
Restive parts of the country, i.e., Jammu & Kashmir and Naxalism/Maoist insurgency hit areas, see regular diktats appealing people to observe black day on the day. In the latest addition to the government’s crackdown measures, now internet and telephone services are halted to prevent rumour mongering, something on which these separatists/insurgents/scavengers thrive. The regular exercise is to detain the major separatist leaders of J&K and to heighten the security apparatus of the nation to the maximum level to keep in check the terror designs.
Another regular feature of the Independence fortnight is the ‘war of words’ between India and Pakistan and the situation is really tense this time. Prime minister Narendra Modi, who so far had taken the initiative to normalize relations with Pakistan with unscheduled messages and visits, didn’t tweet to congratulate his Pakistani counterpart today (Pakistan celebrates its Independence Day on August 14). As Modi rightly stated yesterday that any outstanding point on Kashmir between India and Pakistan is PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir), the atmosphere is going to vitiate further. And an increased Indian focus on Pakistan’s atrocities in Balochistan would only add to it. An indication was seen in Abdul Basit’s response, Pakistani High Commissioner to India, who said that the theme to this year’s Pakistan’s Independence Day would focus on Kashmir’s freedom.