Sunday, 10 August 2014

Happy Independence Day!

Patriotism isn’t lofty words and grand songs,
Neither a noble principle nor a pious speech long.
It’s rather an inborn urge, a simple feeling of belonging;
A cherished inspiration, a tug at the heartstrings, a natural daring!

That not many of us can escape being moved at the sight of the tricolour unfurling amidst the chanting of the national anthem is evidence that the above lines are true. Every Independence Day, when (if!!) we witness this familiar scene, we can feel the unmistakable surge of patriotic fervour pulsating through our veins albeit for a few fleeting moments, before reality re-tightens its hold and brings us back to our busy, material world.

            But for the better part of the lives of the general public, patriotism, like everything else has fallen prey to mere ostentation. This is all evident in the “patriotic” fervour that goads people into “liking” nationalistic posts on social media or fervently and dutifully participating in online polls to catapult an Indian to victory in a glamorous contest. Then we sit back satisfied that we have fulfilled our duty, played our role as an Indian citizen, content about having indeed made a difference.

These and many more thoughts cross my mind as we celebrate our 67th Independence Day later this week. How would it have been to have witnessed this event, to have been a part of such a defining moment in history? For those who had given their all to win freedom for the country, it would have felt like a grand culmination of a heroic mass struggle for a glorious cause.

Now, sixty-seven years after that goal has been achieved, is there any noble goal that single-mindedly fires up and motivates the present generation? Do we even ponder about the significance of the Independence Day in today’s context, or is it counted as just another in our unending list of holidays? I think the latter comes closer to the mark as most of us seem completely immersed in the daily grind and hectic schedules, too busy and apathetic to pay heed to other matters that have little relevance in our lives. We aren't entirely to blame either, as we are all in the grip of the modern epidemic called "no time for anything or anyone but myself!" 

We stand today at such a critical juncture that all that we really need to do to make a difference to our society and the nation at large is to simply be conscientious, sensitive and law abiding citizens. Even if every Indian decides to do their duty sincerely and wholeheartedly, it would help rid us of the “chalta hai” attitude that has eroded our efficiency and plagued the entire system. What’s missing are the most basic values and it is these that should be re-instilled in children instead of  emphasizing only on material and academic success. We don’t just need high profile doctors, engineers and management graduates – we also need people who are sensitive, humane, considerate and honest to the core.  

The most fitting tribute that we could pay our great martyrs every Independence Day would be to solemnly rededicate ourselves to our country’s cause by being her worthy citizens for the next 365 days. Our noble cause could simply be a pledge to do our work to the best of our ability, to abstain from the temptation to compromise on our scruples for petty gains and to take a stand against social evils, instead of continuing to be passive onlookers of indecency and injustice.  Over and above this if we can still manage to contribute in our own humble but sincere way, to fuel the wheels of progress of our nation and its people, we will have ensured that the sacrifice of our martyrs and that of the soldier standing guard at our borders has not been in vain.

The only way then is to wear patriotism eternally on our sleeves and in our hearts and feel its perpetual throb in our veins as a constant reminder of our unending duty towards our motherland.

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