Sixty eight years ago, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, made one of the most inspiring speeches ever by a head of government to his countrymen. The PM urged young India to start spreading her wings out into the vast expanses of freedom. He spoke about the ‘triumphs’ and ‘achievements’ that awaited them in the distance. He envisaged a golden dream for a newborn nation and pledged his selfless service to her people. Much water has flown under the bridge in the past three scores and eight years. But then, where does the nation stand now?
For the most of us, Republic Day has shrunk to a much longed for and contented ‘holiday’ during which we exchange numerous ‘Happy Republic Day’ messages with friends. It is a day when our FaceBook profile picture is changed to that of the Indian national flag. It is a day when the Internet service provider charges you extra for a message. It is also the day when retail showrooms offer Republic Day discounts. Shamefully though, there is also a section of the youth who cannot tell the difference between the Independence Day and Republic Day.
It was on this day, January 26, 1950, that the Indian Constitution came into effect and it was also on this very day, over 20 years ago (January 26, 1930), ‘Purna Swaraj’ was declared by the Indian National Congress. The Indian Constitution is the foundation of our governing system. It defines, demarcates and dictates the laws governing the country. It lays down the fundamental rights and duties of the citizen. It is pretty much the rule book by which the country is run.
We now have independence, an elaborate Constitution, a governing body, a judicial system, but are we standing close to any one of those milestones our first PM had envisioned? There have indeed been milestones set in the fields of science, economy, politics, technology, arts and literature, but aren’t they marginal compared to the acute problems faced by the common man today? We set up political and governmental bodies for the smooth running of the country, but corruption has infiltrated the system even at the lowest level. Development has led to the mushrooming of metro cities, but the piled up garbage and pollution leaves one appalled. Mother India is exploding with population, but only one-fourth of them receive proper heath care and education. And our media who once served as swords for our freedom fighters appears to have forgotten its credentials.
The economy has been spiralling down for the past several years and the nation’s currency tumbling down faster than ever. The final blow dealt at the heart of young India as ‘partition’ is still bleeding the nation in the garbs of communal violence and terrorism. We stand at a point, where we have barricaded our own development.
Sixty-five years down the lane we are forced to ask ourselves, where did we go wrong? The independence struggle was a victory because of the relentless efforts of an array of selfless, straight-headed individuals supported by no less than 350 million people in unison. But now, the common man has his ‘own’ problems to deal with, let alone worry about the numerous problems facing his country. He is worried about the fuel prices, about his children’s education, his job and ancestral piece of land. The longest constitution was written for the protection of its own people, but we still find our judicial system weak and our law enforcement weaker. Where have we gone wrong?
Admittedly, we have become caricatures of the ‘Irresponsible Indian’. We seldom act, but instead complain all the time, throwing the blame either on the system or the politicians. We only evade tax rather than pay. We have brought ourselves to a condition when our knees wobble in the face of challenges, rather than confront them head on. We have become those who pollute rather than those who preserve. We have become conservatives than secular, and also forgotten our social commitment. In sum, we have miserably failed to take up the responsibility of Independence and to abide by the constitution.
It is said that Pandit Nehru used to write, “Live Dangerously” for every youth who approached him for his autograph. Now the time has come for us to:
Revolt, rally and rise against the evil
For our struggle still continues
To break free
From the shackles of irresponsibility,
And be a true Republic nation!
This article first appeared on January 2015 in Khaleej Times