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.