Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A republic of ideas

The concept of a republic should be seen as the start of a coming together of people in one place, region and a mix of several regions which have been brought together for whatever purpose. India celebrating Republic day should also be seen from the perspective of several people coming together to celebrate the coming together of India as a republic. Several women and men belonging to several regions, caste and class have toiled in many forms and occupations, each and not a few contributing to the growth of this nation.

This Republic day we should look back and look now and applaud all for sacrificing several of the luxuries they could have had, all in the name of keeping the nation going and together. The concept of a republic has two very important characteristics for me. One, it should bring all people in the country together and should not make anyone feel alienated because of their gender, caste, class or occupation. Rather, each one should be respected for being our brother and sister and in the essence of a republic, our family. To call ourselves Indian and wave the Indian flag should be a privilege which should be earned by considering everyone who is living in this country as equal and coming together to offer a space to the under privileged and depressed classes. Disrespecting the flag is not by the way we wave it, where we wave it and raise it or whether we are allowed to hoist it above our house. Rather the privilege of the flag should be a feeling of coming under the comforting presence of an assurance that India and its constitution grants the right to all to have a good life. Anyone who does not follow this spirit is disrespecting the national flag because the flag stands for equality, justice and peace as only that can keep a nation together.

Two, the concept of a republic should not be limited to those who hold a card or an identity proof to prove that they are Indian. Rather it should be extended to all who make India their home. Their attitude and choice hold a higher authority than their identity proof. In this regard the republic we stay in should offer itself as a place for many to come and live and thereby we increase the scope and size of the republic. This is not to entertain political and geographical ambitions which exist way beyond our borders but to open our borders to show that we have grown and progressed as a republic. If we have to increase our security for Republic day and be on the guard always, the celebration which the Republic day has to be becomes a day of perceived threats, violence and a bundle of nerves hoping that all the official functions go well. This then defeats the very purpose of a republic and we become a republic that needs force and military might to remain so instead of using our democratic process and reaching out to many so that others and not we will say that we have become a great nation.

The Republic day also offers us a chance to conduct a social audit whereby we look at what the people of this nation have got and are getting. Are they treated properly, do they know their rights, are they getting justice, can they meet their elected representatives, do people by themselves look out for each other transcending religion, caste and gender or do they come in line to the beats of the drum and the expectations of the anthem?

The writers of the constitution and the erstwhile members of parliament meant us to have a life which would be self-respecting and offer protection to children, women, the poor and the powerless. The constitution is a book of justice whereby preferential rights are given to the have nots. No wonder that there are people who call the constitution holy. Can we come to that understanding on Republic day where we can say no one in this republic will go hungry because it is a sin and against the constitution, no woman or child will be disrespected because it will lead to the state filing a case against the aggressor, and no one will be called outsider or insider because according to our republic all who live here are Indians? The Republic day does involve several speeches and talks on the nation. We should not wait for that but should have our own speech ready for Republic day. This is our speech which says that we will treat anyone on the road or whoever we come across as our own brother and sister, no one will suffer because of lack of facilities, everyone will have access to quality education, and we will fight for the sustenance and continuity of such a republic.

Claim your Republic day, make it your own and tell yourself how you can make a difference in this country by celebrating the Republic day properly and living it every day. This 67th Republic day should not just be to follow traditions but at the same time one need not belittle the good ones as well. Even as various contingents walk past on the Republic day parade it is imperative that we have the same freedom to walk on the streets of this great nation, not being stopped for what we look like or which gender we belong to or what choices we make. Everyone has a right to walk their freedom and in their country this Republic day. Have you exercised yours?

(Picture courtesy www.fullyindia.com)