Celebrating Independence Day – Introspection
We are celebrating our 72nd Independence Day today, August 15. President Ram Nath Kovid in his message to the nation on the eve of Independence said, and rightly so” We are at a pivotal moment. Let contentious issues and extraneous debates not distract us” and added that it was time to widen the idea of independence. PM Narendra Modi spoke, as usual, from the high pedestal of the Red Fort and listed the achievements of his government and
developmental strides of the country in his characteristically demonstrative demeanor of an apt orator. He underlined the agenda of ‘social justice’ of his government. Celebrations on national days are normal and expected norms the world over. There is no harm. We should be proud of our country and its achievements. But this important day should not go without stocktaking as a real and honest introspection. We must see and know as to where we actually stand while participating and enjoying the celebrations.
India has come a long way in its developmental endeavors internally and finding its due space externally since independence in 1947. But let me add hastily that we are still to go a long way to remove poverty and misery from each household of the country. All governments have contributed in the process. There is no doubt about it. India is a big country with big problems of under development and social evils and negativities. It is a matter of regret that we are still to transform our political democracy into social and economic democracy as visualized by our forefathers. The society is still carrying the burden of caste system. The communal divide is getting wider. The moral values of our tradition of “Bahujan Hitaye : Bahujan Sukhaye” are getting eroded. The constitutional morality and honesty to bring about and realize the goals of cherished ideals of “Liberty, Equality, Justice and Harmony” so beatifulyy enshrined in our constitution is no where seen both in our governance and civic conduct. The media is increasingly getting subservient and pliant which is not a healthy sign for a democratic set up. The authoritarian and dictatorial tendencies are cropping up against the spirit of our constitution. Babasaheb Ambedkar, the chief architect of the constitution, warned against the menace of ‘Hero worship’ in democracy. We should be aware of these pit falls.
We are to address these systemic ills and challenges in our “Tryst with Destiny” as stated by PM Jawaharlal Nehru to make our independence meaningful. It is a matter of worry that, of late, communal cards are played to polarize vote banks. The old enemies of ‘caste and creed’ are still at work, unfortunately. The diverse political creeds are getting preference and importance over the national interests. These dangers are real for freedom and independence. I am reminded of the worries and anxieties of Dr. Ambedkar which he expressed in his last speech in the Constituent Assembly of India in November, 1949. These uttering’s are as valid today as it were before. After explaining that how we had lost our independence before, he said and I quote Dr. Ambedkar, “Will history repeat itself? It is this thought which fills me with anxiety. This anxiety is deepened by the realization of the fact that in addition to our old enemies in the form of castes and creeds we are going to have many political parties with diverse and opposing political creeds. Will Indians place the country above their creed or will they place creed above country? I do not know. But this much is certain that if the parties place creed above country, our independence will be put in jeopardy a second time and probably be lost forever. This eventuality we must all resolutely guard against. We must be determined to defend our independence with the last drop of our blood. (Cheers.)
With this, I extend my hearty congratulations and greetings to my fellow countrymen on the Independence Day