THE PECULIAR ROUTINES OF ‘OUR INDEPENDENCE DAY’

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.

©SantoshChaubey

WHY WE SHOULD CELEBRATE OUR INDEPENDENCE DAY

It is because we can freely raise such questions based on this proposition.

It is because we have freedom to express so and ask uncomfortable questions that drag our society back – questions that are still holding us back in a dock of antiquated moratoriums on many issues so vital to us – even after 68 years of getting Independence as a sovereign state.

It is because we have freedom to seek answers to such questions.

Yes, the freedom that we have is relative, but then where it is not?

Every August 15 for India is an event to look back on, to reflect on the journey so far – a journey that began for us on August 15, 1947.

The days is and should be like a profit and loss assessment – on how we dealt with the last year – and on how it fits into the aspirations of a nation that began its independent journey 68 years ago – promises that we made and questions that we raised on August 15, 2014, when we celebrated the 68th Independence Day – and on August 15, 2015, when we are celebrating our 69th Independence Day.

We should celebrate the Independence Day because we have the Constitutional sanction to look at it in this way – an analysis to take stock of what we have done, where we are and what we need to do go where we want to go.

Yes, the day is as much a cause of celebration as it is a reason for critical observation of the sanctity of the pledge that is weaved around us and our souls will always remain in eternal debt of that – a pledge that was taken 68 years ago – a pledge that every Indian of every generation – this, past and future – is answerable to – to shape this land as per the visions of the framers of our Constitution – framers who gave the world’s its largest democracy within three years of India’s independence.

Yes, there are factors in our democracy that push us backward and we cannot deny the fact that they are a major force. It rightly makes us question the system and its numerous flaws and we all must be serious watchers of such flaws and must raise voice and think of ways to go beyond the noise.

Our independence and it being within a democratic framework of a sovereign state gives us means and platforms to exercise our rights in a free Constitutional space.

Our independence in the world’s largest democracy, in fact the world’s largest functional democracy (see the spate of bloggers killed in Bangladesh for raising their voices) makes us part of a system where there are supportive voices as well, if there are hostile elements with their fangs to silence us.

15th August is an event, an occasion to renew the pledge to work against the flaws of our democracy.

Times are changing – and changing fast. Information access and the resultant chaos have the potential to lead the voice of change to have it an upper hand than those who see their benefit in promoting the status-quo.

We should celebrate our Independence Day because we all are stakeholders in the process that makes our democracy a reason to fight for.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

MANMOHAN SINGH ADDS ONE MORE CHAPTER OF EMPTY RHETORIC WITH HIS 10TH INDEPENDENCE DAY SPEECH

In the historic tradition of boring speechmaking of last 9 years, Manmohan Singh added one more chapter of empty rhetoric today with his 10th Independence Day speech from the Red Fort.

10th in row, that would have been achievement but for the reasons that the whole nation knows now and that Mr. Manmohan Singh wants to run away from!

10th in row would be nothing more but one more statistical addition to his profile now.

During his earlier tenure, the boredom was largely due to his lifeless delivery of words, a flat voice, an unclear or highly accentuated diction and an expressionless face.

But he remained largely bearable due to his personal image when the nation saw in him a man of integrity.

That is not the case anymore.

In fact, that has not been the case anymore for the last four years.

He is no more seen as a man of words, a persona of integrity. He has lost all what he earned during his first term as the prime minister of the nation. The wash-out also includes the good name earned before becoming the prime minister.

He heads a government that is undoubtedly one of the most corrupt governments in the Indian political history.

He heads a government that is ironically one of the most undemocratic governments in the Indian democratic history.

He decides to remain silent when the whole nation expects him to speak.

He decides to remain silent when he is expected to be answerable for the endless corruption and undemocratic acts of his government.

He may not be in control but his silence only implicates him. His selective utterances only tell that he has become a politician who wants to save his political chair somehow, at any cost, like almost of the politicians of the day are.

He looks and sounds more like a sorry figure now. His words, now, never reflect an honest introspection of an intellectual he was known as.

He beats the drum about achievements that are clearly misleading. He makes projections for the future while still living in the past. He is trying to claim the future by misleading us on his present, the four years of which, make us lament for the sorry state of affairs in the nation that directly affect our day-to-day lives.

There was nothing new he spoke about on India’s 67th Independence Day. It was a boring repetition of what he has been saying all these years, speech after speech.

I am not going to waste my symbolic joy of the Independence Day by digging into the shambolic soul of Manmohan Singh’s yet another lifeless speech.

I have already written much when it didn’t reserve even a passing mention.

Forgive me.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/