India Indpendence Day

Today is a flagship day of India’s political history …Independence Day. And it is a landmark one at that as we are commemorating 75 years of flag hoisting and 74 years of our freedom.  

Every year the mandatory rituals and fervour of Independence Day leave me flushed with endorphins and this year is no different. As the tricolour unfurls in the skyscape of this country a billion-plus people experience this familiar flush of endorphins. Cynicisms and apprehensions about things and events connected to our Indianhood and India are abandoned, albeit just for the day. 

I contemplate whether cynicism should be my operative word as I try to make a little sense of where we are today as a nation. After all beneath the sheen of our modernization and development milestones lies an almost deadweight of expectations about basic aspects of human life like healthcare, civic amenities, education, employment, equality in terms of opportunities and so forth. 

I eventually realise that cynicism is the last thing that can lift or dispel the matrix of this dead weight. Instead, we need generous doses of realism and pragmatism to develop robust yet flexible frameworks that can cohesively hold the varied and multiple aspects of our fast-changing and evolving socio-economic and political narratives. 

It is not an exaggeration to say that as a country we have narratives within narratives and it is often the concealed narratives that cause intermittent debacles of even the best-intentioned and well-executed ideologies. 

For instance today the constitutionally ordained ideology of secularism is becoming ambiguous to some because within its ambit we have a complicated interplay of factors. 

To state the obvious several political parties are guilty of subterfuge when it comes to addressing the mandate of secularism in their election manifestoes. This in turn unleashes a general air of divisiveness.  

Also, let us not forget the fact that India has witnessed several invasions and almost all these invaders have entrenched their traditions and customs in the DNA of this country. Therefore it is almost impossible and perhaps even unfair to judge any social phenomenon from a linear perspective. Everything about our social fabric is an amalgamation of many things spread across ages.  

Hence I reiterate the need for ‘flexible frameworks’ as given the scale and depth of our diversity it is impossible to have definite frameworks or formulas.

So much so for the much-desired overhauls in terms of the administrative machinery. Let us rejoice and celebrate all that makes India incredible today and lends hope for a brighter and better tomorrow.  

Perhaps the biggest positive of India and Indians is our collective spirit of resilience. Be it wars, recessions, partition, natural calamities of debilitating magnitude and now the ongoing pandemic…we have plodded through every adversity and never faltered in our collective belief that we can re-build/re-create and do better than before. 

The Tokyo Olympics, too, have corroborated my belief that we Indians have a near-miraculous capacity in terms of resilience and comebacks. After all, winning the bronze medal for the Men’s Hockey Team after 41 years was a feat propelled by the skill of the sport and unflinching belief in equal measures.  

In my view, as the true stories of grit, perseverance and resilience that scripted the win of the individual players who bagged medals in solo and group tournaments emerged almost every second Indian felt a little more encouraged to circumvent his/her unique slew of odds, many of which have been hurled by the ongoing pandemic. 

Indeed our indomitable fighting spirit is what the average Indian is celebrating today, perhaps more than the coveted medals. 

At this juncture, I must also say that each of the narratives revolving around the lives of our sports icons has had me choked and awed in equal measures. However, Mirabai Chanu’s experience with the truck drivers who regularly ferried her from her suburban home to the National Sports Academy of Imphal during her crucial training years has also reignited some nostalgia and a very pertinent insight. While applauding 26-year-old Chanu, who won the Silver Medal in the 49 kg weightlifting (women’s) event for felicitating her Samaritans, I must also say that our country does abound with people who do unconditional acts of kindness for strangers. And contrary to mass perception often these good Samaritans hail from the lower strata of society.   

To reiterate my observation I recall my days in Delhi as a scribe. I would often travel by the Metro Rail at late hours. Once my wallet, containing my bank debit cards and other identity documents had fallen out of my unzipped jhola at the curtained section of the handbag screening belt. Oblivious to the all-important subtraction from my jhola I collected it and walked out of the station. 

Before I even discovered what could have easily unleashed a panic attack I heard a man running behind me. Within seconds a uniformed guard faced me and handed me my wallet. Before I could react the man hurriedly explained that I would have anyway not lost the wallet as it would have been in the custody of the station guards but the minute they discovered it they decided that they should run after me and deliver it to ensure that I have a good night’s sleep. 

I well know that there is nothing extraordinary about such experiences and many of you might have had similar experiences. However, in a parallel vein, I do feel that we all need to be a lot more vocal about these experiences for in doing so we reiterate the fact that the inherent goodness of human nature reigns in our country even today despite all the disheartening odds. 

And yes despite our rather overwhelming differences (also in terms of ideologies) we invariably come together to celebrate the accolades and achievements of our countrymen especially the ones at international forums. Indeed sports tournaments, international beauty pageants etc have all had a unifying effect on this nation where heterogeneity reigns. 

In a wrap, we are an incredibly complex country that abounds in simplicity. And it is this simplicity that keeps us ticking. So for today and tomorrow let us simply celebrate the essence of being an Indian. 

A freelance content writer, Proyashi has worked for 15 years in the media and communications industry of  Delhi.  She has authored The Mystic Sinners, a  rare work of fiction on mysticism and tantra. 

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