26th January. The Republic Day of India. The day the Indian Constitution was promulgated. In 1950.
The founders of the constitution envisioned a country that upholds justice, equality and fraternity
63 years down the line – what does Republic Day mean to me, and you, my fellow Indian ?
For many many years – it used to mean, for me, a day off from school or work, a morning spent in front of the TV – watching the Indian armed forces’ parade at India Gate in Delhi, the capital. With a sense of wonder and pride, we watched contingents of the army, navy and air forces march down “Rajpath” (the royal road ?) – with the majestic Rashtrapathi Bhavan (President’s house) in the backdrop. A heavy debate usually ensued as to which regiment had the best marchpast, which state had the best tableau and so on and so forth.
The final flypast of the fighter planes send shivers down one’s spine and singing the National Anthem at the end of it brings tears to my eyes. As the Indian tri-color of a multitude of balloons unleashed and soared ever higher into the sky – the saffron of sacrifice, the white of peace and the green of prosperity merged into the blue of the infinity, our spirits also soared high – with a sense of freedom and crucially, of hope.
It made me feel proud to be an Indian. It made me feel protected. It made me feel strong with fraternal love for my fellow Indians – rich, poor, dark, fair, Bengali, Kashmiri.
After all these years – the republic day program hasn’t changed much. The march past, tableaus, flypast and balloons. But the emotions have. They have become very mixed.
Instead of debating about which marchpast was the best, I find myself wondering about the future of the country. It feels meaningless to be protected at the borders, from invasion by our enemies, when I feel vulnerable to the unknown assailant, who might be walking the road or riding a bus with me – either with a bomb or with less than fraternal intention. As I pay taxes I wonder about whether the money will be used for the betterment of civic services.
I look back and think – over the years the country has seen women heads of state – both a prime minister and a president. And several state chief ministers. It has seen some fiery female police officers. And now almost every contingent at Republic Day parade has women officers leading from the front.
But still the average woman on the road does not feel safe.
And it is another story of mistrust as I look at the ranks of the politicians and so called leaders of the country. I do not find a single person whom I can look up to as a true leader. They fail to evoke any sense of trust or hope in me.
I do not want to write about what has gone wrong with my country – it has been written about ad nauseum.
I still had tears in my eyes today singing the national anthem. But those were tears of despair. To the unseen power of the universe I prayed – I want to feel proud to be an Indian again. Please show me how. I want to make a difference, even if it is a drop in the ocean – I still want to do my part. But please show me how to first defeat the demons of fear and despair in my own heart.
And a voice within me said – wake up, shake up, dust off the grime and shame. You can make a difference – and so can each and every person out there. A collective consciousness of positive intentions and actions can overpower the handful of negatives. We hear about all these crimes in the news – but I want to question each and every person reading my blog – how many rapists, molesters, murderers, terrorists and corrupt politicians do each one of you know in real life – like personally – in your circle of family or friends ?
I am sure only a handful of you will say – I do. It is a handful of miscreants who create so much noise, so much impact with their misdeeds. And it is the good people – who are the vast majority – who keep quiet. It is time for the good people to make such a bang that all those evil noises that shake our consciousness – are forever silenced.
And that is why I, on this Republic Day , will not let the sense of patriotism die after watching the parades. I am going to take a concrete step. I am going to volunteer for a better India at www.vfabi.org
And I am not going to a Republic Day luncheon party to hobnob and socialize with diplomats today, but I am going to a google+ hangout with His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at #srisrihangout.
And I am going to ask Him all those questions today that I cannot hope to get answers from anyone else – from any of the so called leaders of our country. Because He has answered all the questions I have ever asked Him and inspired me to change for the better and break all those barriers that I had to my personal growth.
I am going to ask Him now to show me the path to change my country. And the world.
Are you ?
Ask Sri Sri questions at #srisrihangout If you have google+ account -> plus.google.com/+SriSriRaviShankar; If you don’t have google+ account, watch him answer questions at http://youtube.com/artoflivingtv
Jai Hind and May the Peace be with you..