Sunday, August 17, 2008

Independence Day Celebrations - Dullness Personified

India became an independent nation at the stroke of midnight of August 14 - 15, 1947. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister, uttered those immortal words – “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially…….”

What a historic moment? - What a powerful speech? – An amazing achievement to throw off the yoke of colonial rule……..We were now free to shape our own destiny.

That was sixty one years ago. Let me, for a moment, risk being irreverent and ask – 15th August 1947 seems so far away and almost surreal. To us born in post - 1947 India and having grown up in a very different environment, independence is natural and, perhaps, taken for granted. The past, beyond a point, becomes a drag and fails to enthuse the younger generation.

I-Day has now become an annual routine. We open the old chest, remove the same things out, burnish them, use them for a day and wham – they go back in for another year.

The same routine, the same dull uninspiring speeches from dull uninspiring leaders, same patriotic songs intermixed with filmy mush. You have the mandatory “Aae mere watan ke logo…jara aankh mein bhar lo pani…..”. Leaders everywhere mouthing the same old overused clich├ęs………, plenty of protocol, stiffness and of course the modern day scourge – plenty of security.

I have tried to trace this decline from a pristine annual event almost bordering on being holy to something which is “Dullness Personified” and completely out of depth.

The euphoria of independence lasted, perhaps, for a decade or two. We were a newly independent nation and annual celebrations were looked forward to. Speeches from the ramparts of Red Fort were followed intently and the excitement of having to achieve much for the nation still survived. The memories of the independence struggle were fresh in the minds of the people and leaders alike as they had themselves participated. The pain of partition was also intense and a semblance of order was just getting restored in their lives.

With gradual change the post independence generation came on the scene. Their identity was different and they have not been able to relate with the movement for independence. The soul was somehow missing and I-Day celebration has slowly degenerated into an annual must-have ritual – almost like a parody. To make matters worse, cynicism rules high and is a great mood dampener.

People participation has dropped to an all time low. If you go beyond the Red Fort celebrations to the State Capitals, participation is restricted to just the leaders and officials.

This year it was a long week end and you actually saw people exulting and making quick getaways. It is sad that we consider it a waste of time to participate in any such celebrations.

I think,

Time has come to re-examine the relevance of the current format of Independence Day celebrations in the country.

Time has come to re-position the whole concept of I-Day celebrations afresh and establish its relevance to the people.

Time has come to infuse some interest, enthusiasm and variety and make it a joyous celebratory event and not a solemn, grim, dull and boring event.


Krishnan said...

Mavin I was thinking along the same lines too and you echoed my sentiments pretty adequately. The I-Day celebrations have become tiring rituals. It is high time we dispense with it.

Avani said...

I completely agree with your view for this important day in Indian history. Inculcating patriotic feeling in young minds is important but the way Independence day is celebrated is simply not serving the purpose. Rather than making students listen to boring repetitive speeches, schools should organise activities like selecting a particular area for cleaning and beautification and explaing the meaning and significance of doing your own work. Or students shud be taken for small treks. This would help them in experiencing the pain and effort that Shivaji and other warriors had to face while saving their own land. History can be taught in many different interesting ways. I guess ruling India would be easier now since the patriotic feeling in every individual is almost dead. 60-70 years back, rulers had to make efforts to divide Indians but today effort on that front will be minimal. This thought is actually very scary.

Gopinath's "Artickles" said...

Anil, your post reflects the feelings of most Indians today. The progress being made in various walks of life is not getting the attention at these celebrations. We delve into the past and hear the same stories, year after year. Besides, the regional leaders are focussing on divisive politics of the teritorial kind that is found in canines. The progressive Indians are today becoming world citizens and making their mark world over. Hope your post encourage fellow bloggers to post innovative ideas for ways in which the day could be celebrated in the years to come.

shubho said...

It is nice to hear your comments on the ritual of our Independence Day celebrations.
After the initial euphoric years, we quickly became too much busy to sort out our deep rooted internal differences and innate divisions owing to the improper handling of the matters by our pre and post independence political leadership. The noble idea of the Indian Nation was by no means a universally accepted concept to the majority Indian public whose collective psyche was deeply etched by the great tragedy of Partition, possibly more than the Independence. It is still the main source of a bitter internal strife in our country, once again manifested in the recent Jammu-Kashmir events. Thus, it is not unexpected that the concept of an Independence Day fails to raise emotion in the mind of majority Indians. It is upsetting and uncomfortable but a reality. History never forgives nor forgets.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it is because the soul of Indians have to resurrect to a higher level. then automatically all these rituals and important manifestations will absorb teh right meaning and shine in the most brilliant way + joy. Just these days i am reading the bio of Lal Bahadur Shastri by C.P. Srivastava, amazing times. i also describes so well the relationship between Nehru and Shastri. (radha)

Mavin said...

Krish, Avani, Gopi n Shubho

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

It will be possible to revive enthusiasm if every group / class join hands and help shake off the cynicism that has gripped the general population.

Tall order but try we must..


You are probably right. We have to find our own solutions.
Happy reading...Lal Bahadur Shastri was considered tough and a man of integrity. Pity he did not survive long enough to lead India.

Anonymous said...

Then i think we need more tough and very much integrated people. But not tough with stupidity in mind, tough with high sense of joy and understanding from inside. They can be great example for the others and in the case of organizing such an important festival, the exit will not be empty, boring and grim for sure. (radha)

Independence day said...

Other might have forgotten,
But never can i,
The Flag of my country
Furls very high,
Happy Independence day

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