Happy Republic Day, but what are we celebrating ?

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Used to be such fun. Getting ready early in the morning, putting on your woollies with my mom trying to get us going as early as possible. To see the parade in Delhi from as vantage a point as possible. It was such a event. As a boy of course my favourite were the armed forces ! The march past, the tanks that rumbled by, pointing their gun turrets to the saluting Prime Minister. I would always wait for the jets to do their final flypast spewing out the Indian colours. Just the sounds of those jets would get my heart pumping. I loved the white uniforms of the Navy and for a long time had the ambition to join the Navy. To a 10 year old it felt like the coolest thing to do. I just liked the way they saluted. It was not like the open palm of the Army or the Air Force. It was so smart. Imagine, that I may have gone into the Navy just because I loved the way they saluted. I guess we will never know what motivates us to take directions in life.
Then we did not think about what we were celebrating. It just was such a celebration. Even my school would participate in one of the floats ( I never made it – I was too quite and shy to express creative urges then). We just celebrated a holiday, a day out and the pageantry. And India was such a young country then. The cynicism had not set in.
What are we celebrating now, other than a long weekend ?
We are celebrating the birth and survival of an impossible Idea. An Idea that is India. An idea that brought a sub continent of different cultures, of different religions, of different races, and of different languages together. That Idea was freedom. And out of that idea, an India that never really existed before, was born as a democracy.
India is still an Idea. A hope. A dream. That it has survived and we still exist as a whole despite all the divisive forces, the complete political failure, the corruption, the poverty, the inequality, the lack of a working justice system, a corrupt police force, the greed of the corporate system, is in itself an absolute miracle. But then, more than anything else, an Idea leads to a miracle
That is what we should be celebrating. That the idea has survived. The Dream still beats in our hearts. And hope still drives us.
And that hope is kept alive not by the politicians who are probably the most treacherous people on this planet, nor the elite or the corporate sector, who will plunder middle class investors and transfer India’s wealth overseas without blinking an eyelid. Nor by us film makers, that find exhilaration in box office results international awards. But it is kept alive by the farmer, who season after season will wait for the monsoons and the crops to feed his family. And still hope. It is kept alive by the working and middle classes that travel in from Virar to Churchgate everyday and have done so all their lives, and still hope and survive and celebrate. For they’re the ones that buy the cell phones that turn our cell phone operators into billionaires.
India’s beating heart, India’s hope, lies in the people for whom life is a daily struggle. This year I celebrate those people.

17 Responses to “Happy Republic Day, but what are we celebrating ?”

  1. Neeraj says:

    You right sir, celebrating Republic Day seems a formality now, there not much enthusiasm in the nation about the event.
    Yes, we are surviving and we still exist but unfortunately we are not living. We are not able to live because of the divisive forces you just discussed about in your article.
    The politicians call our nation a secular nation as it is written in our preamble. But do you really think are they correct? There are ample of incidents, such as in Mumbai by MNS, Mumbai riots, Malegaon, Babri Masjid….which proves them wrong every time when they talk about Secularism. We have reservations for different castes and religions in almost everything.
    The idea and the dream of great India will be alive till the time we have no reservations or inequality in one profession i.e. farming. We are still surviving in this nation just because the divisive forces have not affected the farming. Just imagine what will happen if it gets affected – farmer of one religion/caste would not sell his production to the other person from a different religion/caste and vice versa.
    My grandfather died with a dream in his eyes for one nation where there will be equality, a fair political & judicial system, and no reservations on the bases of caste, religion or sex and now I have inherited this dream.

  2. NIMI KHANNA says:

    LThis year I celebrate the birth of a leader who will raise his voice and lead India from corruption, poverty,divisiveness and all other evils that have slithered in.
    After September eleven if somebody had predicted that nine years later there will be someone as close in name to OSAMA ,WITH A MIDDLE NAME OF A MOSLEM,to lead America–nobody would have believed!!Barack Hussain Obama is here now and the whole world is looking at him as a Messiah.
    Your blog is raising this need of the hour and I celebrate …LEAD.

  3. austere says:

    The divides getting deeper, the differences insurmountable, how long will the state last as one?
    Sometimes it scares me.

  4. Abhishek says:

    Great perspective!
    fwiw the forces salute the president (their chief commander), not prime minister.

  5. I too always wonder what makes India still standing despite of complete political failure, it’s something super natural! Though as you said we can celebrate for the reason that the idea ‘India’ is still alive!

  6. koizen says:

    Dushmanon ko banatey hei mehmaan,
    Phir bhi mera Bharat Mahaan,
    Aam janta hei pareshan,
    Phir bhi mera Bharat Mahaan
    Neta ka bik chuka hei emaan
    Phir bhi mera Bharat Mahaan
    Sau mei say assi beimaan,
    Phir bhi mera Bharat Mahaan

  7. ruchi says:

    i still believe in a Republic that India is and i will forever

  8. Raj says:

    This Nation was formed on false promises and hopes. People of India live in illusion. This morning I switched on the TV just to watch the parade. What really makes me wonder is why do we show off our weapons and soldiers on this day when we claim to the world that we have won independence through non-violence??
    Our politicans use Gandhi as a tool but spend crores on their personal security. Gandhi never cared or demanded for security..
    The problem is not entirely our politicians, the problem is our own people,who are dead and just don’t care for any change. Above all no one dares for change
    India is not an idea, it is an illusion. This illusion has been created by our past leaders,current politicians,bollywood and the media.
    Mr Shekhar,I don’t blame the politicians,the fact is we are the most dangerous. Today India faces threat from its own people…Even after 60 years we still don’t know what do we want..
    Is Pakistan an enemy or friend?
    Do we want secularism or Hinduism?
    Do we love our state or India as a whole..
    All we do is blame the politicians and if we really cared and if some one really dared, today there would be an ongoing revolution but again the idea of revolution was supressed long long time back by Gandhi. Saddest part of all, our revolutionaries like Bhagat singh are forgotten and we are still living under the influence of false dreams, promises..
    I blame the people not the politicians. Its just WE
    This is what I feel about India..
    When our soldiers die
    We are asked to cry
    When our politicians lie
    We are just numb and dry
    We are livin’ in illusion
    And dream of revolution
    No one knows the solution
    We just blame our politicians
    For all the pollution
    We are living our false dream
    No one has the courage to scream
    This show will go on and on.
    The real hero will never be born.

  9. Nitin Sharma says:

    Hello Mr. Kapur,
    I came across your site and read some of your articles and comments. I have grown up watching and enjoying your movies.
    I run a market research firm and am based out of the US. Do you or any of the filmakers/producers you know leverage market research (i.e. polling at the national/state levels and then projecting results to the entire population) before embarking on a subject?
    It could be akin to knowing the demand of a concept or picture idea before investing any time or money in a new project.
    Let me know if you have any thoughts or have used this in the past.
    Best,
    Nitin
    Nitin Sharma

  10. Mee says:

    I asked a bsic question of some people on 26th- do you know the significance of our republic day? And guess what- not one knew the answer:(
    I am not sure if India is an Idea or an Illusion but it certainly seems to be losing its knowledge and IQ and depth!

  11. Amrita Tripathy says:

    Thats a lovely pic mr kapoor. Is that you do photography also? I am over-enthusiatic towards it and so still in “amateur photographer” stage, but would surely look forward to take up a profession if i get a chance.

  12. shekhar says:

    no amrita, i ‘stole’ it from the web ! but it is a great picture, wish I could claim it as one of mine, shekhar

  13. BHUPATHI says:

    Dear Mr.Shekhar,
    The article is well written.The fault lies not entirely with the politicians.The people are equally responsible.If a politician asks me to kill or rape I would not do.But what about others?India is an illusion created in the minds of people by thinkers of the past era.The present era leaders and the people are more concerned with land than it’s people. This dream must end one day violently.Unless we make structural adjustments.The first enemy of the people is the Caste and Religion.Still caste prejudices prevail, inequalities prevail and hence imaginary enemies also prevail. As long as Caste Names are used and touted the Idea of an India will remain an Idea only.We must have the system of referendum to involve the people in every major decision and then make them responsible for the outcomes.That’s when the idea will get crystallized.

  14. nandini says:

    Hmmm … I was in the parade once, back in the 80’s, as part of my school. I still remember how long Raj Path was, how cold it was (with bare feet!), the elephant, horse, camel poop we had to avoid … and all those rehearsals.
    The people marching in the parade are regular people too. The jawans, the folk dancers, the school kids, the “brave kids” on the elephants. The parade is not just for the politicians and the elite, it is for everyone.
    The stands are stacked with VIP’s but people watch in on TV. They buy the idea. It’s about them and (I feel …) they know it.

  15. sherry says:

    i so agree with you. i really wonder what is holding india together for so long and yet it keeps on ticking but like a explosive ready to explode anytime.

  16. rajagopal says:

    Hi Shekhar,
    I am immensely touched by your writing skills and the way thoughts have been woven around. The words donot appear words but a feeling about something so honest and truthful. I believe every indian carry this thought day in and day out. He is promised but not delivered, he is shown but never given. That’s the irony of fate. Thanx a lot for such a wonderful and inspiring article

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