Updated: Sep 1, 2020
There are a few thoughts, which stealthily lingered in my head today and penning them down seemed to be the only way for me to acclimatize with them. However, you do not have to read these. These might provoke a thought which might not interest you or maybe, the very thought of provoking a thought might not interest you so much. Nevertheless, if you are still here, here it goes: Independence Day, for a me is quite nostalgic. Specially, today, when we do not “celebrate” it the way we used to do when we were kids, maybe because the India we knew as kids does not exist anymore. Or, does it? I remember, this day being celebrated with the National Anthem sung and packets of sweets being distributed on the way out of school. Our principals and teachers giving their speeches while the sky being overcast and the chances of heavy rainfall loitering in the midst. I remember I always used to make a paper tricolor and plant it on our entrance just to see it being washed away by the rain at some point during the day. I also do remember Lata Mangeshkar’s “Zara Yaad Karo Kurbani” flowing through the loud and cheap speakers at the nearby “recreational clubs” or “parar club” as we Bengalis say. I remember myself sobbing to movies like “Legend of Bhagat Singh” and my mother consoling me. Quite embarrassing now, but yes! That was I back then, some 20 odd years ago. A proud, patriotic little boy who wants to serve this country in his own ways when he grows up.
But, now the definitions of “patriotism” have changed and so has everything along with it! Nowadays, I have to prove my loyalty to my country with every breath I take. Religious syncretism is a long lost dream. The India I knew has filled itself up with jobless youth shouting religious slogans and calling themselves patriots. The level of religious intolerance being at its peak. Claiming my religion is always better than yours, statues and mandirs being built instead of roads and bridges and institutions and hospitals. People walking miles to reach for the roof above their heads and then dying of diseases and if not, of hunger. Political patronage being exerted over the media so that it goes through a systematic and fundamental transformation that quell dissenting voices. There has been a “Hinduization” of the tone and tenor and the media houses have become nothing more than anchors when people asking questions are thrown behind bars under special laws making them criminals! Sorry, this is not something I am proud of. I am not proud of the nonexistent law and order where people are killed in “encounters”. I am not proud of media trials where someone is the culprit even before they are declared so.
I have a fundamental problem with the term “hope”, but please stop and think about it. What India do you want?
Happy Independence Day!