Today, we celebrate India’s 69th Republic Day across the country and January 26 holds significance for us as Indians to revel in our diversity as a nation, rich history, tolerance and thousands spoken languages echoing the One People, One nation theory. Our constitution came into being on January 26, 1950, to act as the watchdog and mighty guardian against crisis. High and opportune time to reflect on present-day challenges such as freedom of expression, tolerance, the rule of law as enshrined in the Indian constitution. We must express pride as a nation and why not. After all, it’s been 50 years ago when the learned and able lawmakers framed our constitution and Article 51A(h) is one aspect that offers fodder for thought to reflect on our past and rich legacy, not just bask into glory but set the tempo to make India the country we want it to be:
“It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform”.
– Article 51A (h) The Indian Constitution
There is no dearth of issues in the country. Since a couple of years, we’ve been grappling with several issues right from the fringe and extremist outfits hellbent to jeopardize peace and unity in the country to showing disrespect to the Supreme Court by resorting to violence. There was a climate of fear instilled among the people and very appalling to see extremist groups gaining the upper hand. It offered a sorry sight on the eve of the Republic Day’s celebration. The time is now to reflect on Article 51A(h) and it proves that most of us are guilty of donning the role of ignoramus on the relevance of the constitution. Educating citizens about the Indian constitution, albeit treating with the same sacredness that is lent to holy books such as Bhagwad Gita, Quran and Bible, is lacking perhaps. The last thing that we want is a constitutional crisis as we look back at recent unfortunate and ‘anti-national’ activities of fringe groups which are plaguing a nation celebrating its rich diversity, culture and identity.
Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity are not just mere words or preamble in the Indian constitution but carry a very deeply rooted meaning that we must internalize religiously to make it part of our daily existence. As Indians, we have always been tolerant, open-minded and respectful towards each other’s culture or international people making India their home. This humbleness and intellect as Indians who accept criticism made us grow as a nation and is a testament to our diversity and rich legacy.
Unfortunately, the voice of reason is somehow lost in present day where the infinitesimal minority voices such as RSS leaned or non-entities Sena are choking the voice of reason, the silent majority. Our biggest asset and beauty remains our identity in celebrating Diwali, Eid, Baisakhi, Xmas, Lohri or Bihu as well as a host of festivals.
India is the land of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ which signifies treat our Guests with Godly respect. There are pressing issues slithering the country right from raging intolerance to food, culture and people coupled with open bounty to behead people, assault against women or lynching mob which has soiled the polished gold that we have become as a Republic. The people make a nation the beacon of democracy. After all, our freedom fighters and illustrious sons and daughters of the soil toiled hard to make the country what it is today. We cannot afford to see the sacrifices that made India stand as a pillar and tower of democracy be whittled into tiny particles. It’s about us and our country. Koi desh perfect nahin hota ussko perfect banana padta hai.
Hope resides in us and is an inherent part of our DNA. We are a nation that never buckled down and has overcome all odds to make us what we are today. Tolerance, secular values, artistic and freedom of expression are not just mere words but defines the character and spirit of a nation. The dichotomy of our people lies in our habit of waking up late to realities and not spin-doctoring. When we speak about development and putting India on a world map, it dates back to post 2002 when the country was ringing in investment, the Sensex soaring and economic liberalization that created jobs for the youth. It was the time India witnessed the boom and it’s not like economic progress happened after 2014 like some want us to believe. Of course, the issues that we faced as a nation was present in the past and no one can deny it, be it censoring of books or pandering to caste politics but it’s also true that today tolerance has hit an all-time low where freedom of expression is being muzzled. One thing that should worry us is the number of sponsored fake news mushrooming on the internet or online trolls making empty threats, threatening our secular fabric and time for all of us to stand as soldiers against things that may destroy peace.
There are so much that must be done if we want to progress as a nation, right from implementing effective laws or change in our attitudes when it comes to women, safety or thwarting of sexual violence, empowering the poor and education for all as well as overturning the state of neglect where our fellow citizens from Jammu, Kashmir or North East are treated as second-class citizens and basic nutrition for every family and no one should be denied health care in the country.
The heart bleeds with pride when we see all women BSF motor riders valiantly traipse at Janpath as part of the Republic Day parade. All is not lost. Our Jawans protecting the border and fighting for the country against foreign infiltration. We shall rise to overcome the odds for we cannot trade our freedom for anything on earth. The time is now to introspect on our established values, progress made, the freedom we take for granted and how we can turn the tide in our favor.
Long live the Republic of India