Over 60 years ago India began its audacious experiment with democracy against immeasurable odds. Few observers believed that democracy could survive in such unfavourable conditions-a largely illiterate electorate, a vastly diverse nation, extreme socio-economic deprivation and hostile neighbours.
But if under such unlikely circumstances Indian Democracy has flourished, a lot of credit for this is owed to a visionary constitution that came to full force 66 years ago. It is why Indians of all hue celebrate this day with extreme pride.
But somewhere along the line a lot of this celebration has got reduced to the might and show of Republic Day parades held in New Delhi and various state capitals. As much as we have got used to this way of celebration, as thoughtful and responsible citizens of a modern democracy we should introspect whether this is actually the right way to celebrate Indian Republic’s foundation? I for one feel it’s a wrong way to celebrate the birth of Indian republic for the following reasons-
The Republic Day parade is mostly about showing and taking pride in our military might. While any modern nation must honour and take due pride in bravery and strength of its military, inordinate display of militarism is not in tune with essential ethos -non violence and truth- of our republic and the freedom struggle that led to its creation. Our cultural ethos too are averse to show of strength, they rather emphasise humility and mediation. And as such parades usually are about military might, an India confident of its survival to its core ethos should not put Republic Day parades at the centre of its celebration.
Overshadows reflection about core ideals
The Republic Day should ideally be a day for reflection on the distance our country has travelled and the road that lies ahead. But the pomp and show of the republic day parade deflects us from this reflection. We fail to use this opportunity to connect with our core ideals because we are too enamoured by the materialism of Republic Day parade.
As such in the business of modern life, there are few opportunities for the nation to engage in this collective reflection, Republic Day provide one such rare opportunity and the parade leads us to miss on that too.
Causes lot of inconvenience to common man-
Republicanism at its core is about power of common people. It purports to create a system which is devoted to convenience and welfare of common people. But in order to create the spectacle of a massive parade without any security glitch, a large portion of Lutyens Delhi witness a virtual shutdown for days all together. This creates a lot of inconvenience to lakhs of ordinary citizens. Can there be a greater irony than celebrating Republicanism by inconveniencing the citizens who should be heart and soul of republic?
The might and splendour of Republic Day does not come for free. Crores of taxpayers’ money is squandered over creating an extravagant show. This is extreme insensitivity given that there are children, old age people, mother and other citizens dying due to lack of basic existential provisions as government lack the resource to provide even the basic minimum.
Ultimately let us be guided by the talisman given to us by our beloved Father of the Nation Bapu-“Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away.”
And as one asks this question about India state’s pompous show in Republic Day parade, there is no way one can imagine how the extravaganza of Republic Day will help the last man. And so this should be the decisive reason why Indian state must find an alternate way to celebrate our this day.
Happy Republic Day!
The writer of this blog has studied in IIT-Roorke. Views expressed here are his own and JKR doesn’t subscribe to them.