Celebrating Republic Day

Celebrating Republic Day

Today our tolerant traditions and pluralistic democracy stand severely challenged

With the 66th Republic Day a few days away now, and the United States President Barack Obama as the chief guest on the occasion, extraordinary security alerts stand mounted across J&K state.

All of us know that the Republic Day is one of the most important national events.

It was on January 26, 1950 that the constitution of India came into force and India declared itself a sovereign, democratic and republic state.

It was on this day that India finally enjoyed the freedom of spirit, rule of law and fundamental principle of governance. The concept of celebration of this day has the premise of patriotic fervor of the people on this day bringing the whole country together.

This day used to be such fun for many people here in Kashmir that for whole year they used to save money and plan a trip to Delhi to be part of the republic day celebrations.

The most attractions were the armed forces, the march past, and the tanks that rumbled by, pointing their gun turrets to the saluting prime minister etc. People would always love to see the jets to do their final fly-past spewing out the Indian tri colours.

At home people, especially youth, used to beat the chill of chilli kalan and rush to the Bakshi stadium to join the Republic Day celebrations.

But, the fervor and enthusiasm to celebrate the republic day stand lost to the turmoil. People no more plan trip to Delhi for the purpose and no one throngs Bakshi Stadium except the men associated with government machinery.

Gone are the days when a common Kashmiri used to get ready early in the morning, putting on woollies trying to get going with the celebrations as early as possible.

Reasons are known to all and need not to be retreated or elaborated. Precisely, this day is fast slipping as a people’s day in a variety of ways.

This day, regional identities no more take a backseat and most ironically, the universal appeal of unity and brotherhood on the occasion has lost punch and suspicion looms large among the citizens.

Display of the symbols of the great military might and cultural wealth may have given it status of the world’s most impressive parade, but the zeal and pride is lacking among the people on this occasion now.

So, in the existing system, a few questions arise. Is today’s Republic Day celebration about existence of the country as a whole despite all the divisive forces? Has complete political failure, the corruption, the poverty, the inequality, the lack of a working justice system, a corrupt police, military and paramilitary forces, greed of the corporate system engulfed our country?

And, is this really a miracle for us to survive in such ordeal? What I observe is that our democratic set-up stands diluted and moulded more for the survival of politicians and not the people.

Emergence of terror-related incidents in the country with a difference where targeting of minorities has become order of the day, is a shameful blot. The country has been readjusting fiscal fitness measures to make government rich and the people poor.

Today, there is much sectarian hatred in India and it is expressed in frequent, sometimes programmed, violence against minorities. The most fearful and disturbing is now the freely and largely surfacing Hindu extremism.

Hindu nationalist movement collectively known as the Sangh Parivar has already proclaimed an ideology of “Hindutva,” aimed at ensuring the predominance of Hinduism in Indian society, politics, and culture, which it has been promoting through acts of violence and terror.

Today, our tolerant traditions and pluralistic democracy stands severely challenged.

Religious extremism will only drag our democracy, economy, and international relations down with it. Silence on this count is not affordable.

(The views are of the author & not the institution he works for)