A Celebration of our Patriotism
Each year, Republic day celebrations are marked by a grand parade in New Delhi, beginning from Raisina Hill, along the Rajpath, and on to the historic Red Fort in the old quarter of the city. It includes many traditional dance troupes, to symbolize the cultural heritage of India. It traditionally ends with a colourful fly-past by Air Force jets in a Tiranga formation. Similar parades are held in the capitals of all the states of India. Different infantry, cavalry and mechanized regiments of the Indian Military march in formation, decked in all their finery and official decorations.
This sumptuously adorned parade obviously entails huge costs. The question one often hears about the parade are generally regarding the need to spend so much of the tax payers money on what seems to be showing off. If we do need to, then why should it happen on such a large scale. In fact, many a time people actually wonder, why have a parade at all!
I would present two arguments in favour of the republic day parade and national festival celebrations alike- Patriotic and Strategic. In the process, I may also ward off seemingly negative economic implications with the more-than-offsetting benefits.
Patriotism is an emotion fast depleting. Otherwise, for extremely rational (read emotionless) thinkers it is also an essential resource that has not been given its due attention. Most activities today can be viewed as economic activities which have money as the primary driving force. The rest have an emotional reasoning to them. A mother looking after her own child and not baby sitting professionally is an example. Celebrating our country, too, can be viewed in the same light. Taking pride in what we are made off is indispensable. And so is showcasing this. It is important for transferring this legacy of pride to our next generation and for demanding respect in world society. As far as the numbers go, most propositions in public policy are based on the premise of a nation loving citizen who would believe in the necessity of the celebration.
Strategically, in the complicated scenario of global politics, shows of strength are closely related to international affairs. For instance- the Chinese national day celebrated in October 2009. Several people would say that we are, unlike China, a peace loving nation and don’t need to showcase are military strength. But one may meet a road accident even if someone else drinks and drives. So a peace loving nation has to maintain a peace keeping force and exhibit it too. We have to understand that a nation, too, is a brand. And shows like these are the basic PR and communication tools for this brand’s management.
Also, the parade is not just about rifles, uniforms and fighter planes. It also includes the felicitation of various civil bravery awards. The mere size of the extravaganza is an incentive enough for the people participating.
Nevertheless, the questions raised by the newly- partly- liberated class of self-proclaimed-theorists originate from a pseudo- intellectual thought process. Its hypocrisy to apply this young modern thought at such a level and not at the level of everyday action where we waste much scarce resources on insignificant convenient activities.
– Tanmay Dhall
Our constitution shall soon turn sixty; but do we still abide by its values and vision, that’s a different matter altogether. ‘Republic Day’, is in effect a grander cousin to the far less extravagant spectacle known as ‘Independence Day’; does that mean we value rules more than freedom? Atrocious as it might sound, it is probably for the better. Absolute anarchy might be the only means to Utopia but only if we become ideal individuals first, which is nothing more than a myth. Anyhow, coming back to the 26th of January, the show shall go on as it always does, duly injected with heavy doses of pomp and glorious symbolism. I believe, symbolism should be limited to art and literature since those are the only times it makes sense. To cut a long story short, do we really need to pump in all that money and time to ‘celebrate’ these various ‘Days’? Days, which apparently symbolize our freedom, patriotism, sovereignty, unity and other noble themes that might come to one’s mind, but do we really care? Even if we do, does it really make sense to put up the same conceited display year after year? Wouldn’t it be rational to dismantle this gargantuan effort and instead direct it towards far more pressing but less glorious tasks?
Tasks such as educating people, improving the standard of living and not letting them starve to death would be a nice place to start. Tasks, which have always been treated with a half-hearted and lackadaisical approach regardless of what our leaders might say, an approach further marred by our inherently corrupt dispositions. A country where thousands die of hunger and illness, a country where thousands sleep without a roof on their heads with no assurance as to whether they would survive the night, a country where women and children are ravaged at any given opportunity, a country still trying to cope with growing basic needs such as infrastructure and communication. Yet, we continue to indulge ourselves, revelling in megalomania and grandeur of the past. Conduct a ceremony if you must, maybe the masses do need these for motivational purposes if nothing else. However, wouldn’t simpler exhibitions suffice in place of the profligate ones that come about each January and August?
Now, this does give us a heartening message regarding our capabilities as a nation; the efficiency displayed on these occasions such that they pass off without any major glitches year after year proves that we could pull off anything that we set our hearts and minds to. However, it also reemphasizes the fact that we as a country have our priorities messed up and the same is evident everywhere around us. The whole nation goes into debate when a ‘VIP’ is made to go through routine procedures such as security checks or when a purported ‘Yogi Maharaj’ decides to enlighten us about anything from homosexuality to the place of women in society. The Bachhans and the Khans continue to haunt the front pages of our dailies, sharing space with the Ambani brothers. Clearly, we still have our feudal tendencies in place, something that altogether belies one of the essential aspects of humanity, one that is echoed by our hallowed constitution as well – that all men are equal. Yes, tell that to the impassive gentleman sitting on the backseat of a Merc, or to the bedraggled beggar tapping on his window at a traffic signal.
We continue to splurge billions on bolstering our defence but do we really need to? The very existence of armies on the face of this planet is enough evidence of man’s stupidity but one must do what they need to in such circumstances, i.e. follow the trend since nobody likes to be pushed around by bullies. However, a balanced approach wouldn’t hurt anyone, considering that our imminent concerns are allotted only a fraction of the expenditure on the latest war technologies. Now, if we were truly an affluent nation, all this wouldn’t have mattered, but the truth is that we aren’t. The sooner we realize it, sooner we can get around to doing something about it. As I hope you would know, India is neither shining nor incredible. It might have the said potential but as long as we continue to live with botched up priorities, this potential shall just remain that, a yawning reassurance.
– Ishan Marvel