26 January approaches, or rather as it is now, sadly for most people I know, another 26 January approaches, for most except the kinds of my mom (who's a school teacher) and a section of Indian society (which isn't very small ), for whom the day hardly means a thing, a holiday approaches, and for an awfully few people, Independence day approaches.
I remember studying about Indian freedom movement as a kid and getting the adrenaline rush on reading about our Freedom Fighters and pledging to do something for my nation too. I remember movies like Border by J.P. Dutta and Bhagat Singh and a multitude of others which used to be on every movie channel around both Independence Day and Republic Day and hurrying back from school function to see the march on Rajpath on Doordarshan, which slowly became the only time the channel was switched to in the whole year, and getting goosebumps on seeing the glory of Indian Armed forces in all its grandeur and the rush of pride for my nation.
I often used to argue with my Dad why Republic Day was celebrated with much more enthusiasm than Independence day, (my measure being the extent India flexed its armed muscles on Rajpath), saying that Independence Day was surely more important because we sprung free of bad Britishers (that's how it is in our textbooks!) and who cares when we wrote a couple of pages and called it our constitution and called ourselves republic (that was the limit of my understanding of being a republic i.e. having a constitution). Ironically, my inadequate description of constitution is perhaps exactly what quite a few people think our constitution is.
Sadly, now I understand things a little better and as a result everything has lost its charm. I still make it a point to see both the events if I can, but I realize I am now more concerned about who's the chief guest to understand India's International political stance (though I know it's absurd, the people being paid to do so don't have a clue either) or who's who is present at the event, trying to work machinations of Indian polity, and as for the main show, the enthusiastic and enthralling parade of Indian Armed Forces, to see which new weapons we have decided to flaunt this time.
I realize that this reflects the attitude of Indian media so much, who I'm afraid, midst all the frenzy of modern times, has completely lost track of its true purpose, to report to the people what really matters. There are no more mentions of gallantry award winners in Editorials or Talk-shows, neither any interview of kids winning bravery awards. A show discussing fashion statement of politicians gathers more airtime than an interview with force chiefs.
But there's a positive side to it too, now I don't need a tax-money funded advertisement to tell me that India is shining, our generation has grown-up knowing that the world is watching, and people of the Indian subcontinent aren't the only one's interested in India's might (reasons, of course differ substantially), though Indian subcontinent is concerned about a lot more than only India's military strength now.
I usually gave a speech on Independence day in my school, I wasn't very good, but perhaps I was the only one stupid enough to do the dirty work, but I still remember a line I wrote when I was quite young.
"We have an ocean to our name, history is more or less ours, now it's time to claim the world."
Of course, as I have learnt painfully, being optimistic isn't enough, we need to put a foot to it. Our leaders are banking on the tag line, "India can become the world's next superpower, so blah bah", but I fear that by time we are old and tired, and hence eligible for being Indian politician, we will be saying, "We could have been a superpower, because we never got to the point of saying, we are becoming a superpower"
I won't end this blog by trying to inspire you to do something for your country and blah blah... you have enough sense to know what you should do, what's wrong etc. etc... just wish you a Happy Republic Day, take it to be a early one if you read this a bit late, because sure as hell we'll have quite a lot of Republic days and hope that the oaths of our Preamble aren't forgotten on 364 days.
P.S.: I know this is a bit too long, but hey! it feels good to write without a word limit and thanks for bearing with the long length, and if you haven't read the whole thing, please try :-)