I decided I will not sit inside my room this 15th August, 2013, considering it as yet another holiday in the calendar, while citizens of other parts of the nation celebrate India’s 67th Independence Day. In fact, I have never been outside on this day in all the years I have crossed so far. There aren’t many small reasons for this state of mine, about which I don’t feel good at all. There is just one major reason – I stay in Assam, where for the past 20 years of my life, I don’t remember a single instance where my parents took me out to watch some Independence day special programme in Duliajan, my hometown. Even if I or my parents or any other person wanted to, insurgent groups made sure it wouldn’t happen. Even today, as I woke up, my parents strictly advised me to not venture outside my hostel room as the local news channels telecast news that planted seeds of fear in the minds of the people about several insurgent groups of the state planning to launch grenade attacks or bomb blasts across the state. I thought the situation would change this year but I was disappointed.
Honestly, I was frustrated today! How long will I keep hearing these? It is supposed to be Independence Day, an occasion which is celebrated with so much fervour in many countries. Here in my state, India’s Independence Day is considered by many as just another national holiday, rather a Sunday, when they could wake up late and spend leisurely hours at home. This is a result of all the years of living in fear, moulding the people’s mindset. In the few places where the Tricolour is unfurled, it seems it is just a formality being done to commemorate this day. From what I have seen in national news channels, at least, the other states, most of them, present a different picture. I don’t get angry when people of other states fear to come to Assam because of terrorism and insurgency in the state. I feel sad and hopeless because fear resides in the people of the state itself! I want my state to be welcoming to anyone but such situations splash cold water on my hopes.
Even as an Indian, I am not a very happy man, for I have seen Independence Day losing its value with every passing year. 67 years of India’s Independence have gone by, yet the common man wouldn’t feel the joy of freedom and independence as it should have been. The present situation of India may as be labelled as an Anarchy where democracy is just a decorative term. The voice of the general public has no significance. Where is the independence? A day-long celebration on 15th August every year (and on 26th January as well) is used a medium by many to showcase their patriotism. In this regard, ‘Plastic Patriots’ is a term which I coin for those people who smear Saffron, White and Green colours on their bodies or wear Tricolour apparels or send “Jai Hind’ SMSs on this day and Republic Day and for the remaining 363 or 364 days (leap year), they would undermine and tarnish the sanctity of the term ‘Patriotism’.
For me, patriotism doesn’t mean I do all the stuff I mentioned above. Patriotism doesn’t mean I hold the tricolour in both my hands and run around on the streets on 15th August, yelling ‘Jai Hind, ‘Vande Mataram’. For me, patriotism means I care about my country every moment of my life. I should be able to work hard, so that I can contribute something good, however small it may be, towards the development of my country. That is patriotism for me! When I see a beggar begging on the streets or a small child labouring in a restaurant, I should feel the pain of seeing this sorry state of the country and the pinch should push me to make sure I work for the upliftment of these classes of people. That is patriotism for me. When I see a corrupt official, be it a minister, bureaucrat or anybody else, a rage should erupt within me, tamed by words of wit and courage, so that I can pierce through the blindfolds of those corrupt people and show them what their negligence towards the citizens or their shirking of their duties has done to this country. This list shall go on but what matters is every Indian realize what he or she has to do to become a true patriot for the country, so that whenever they see the Tricolour being unfurled or hear the National Anthem being sung in any part of the globe, tears of joy and pride well up in their eyes.
The joy of being an Indian. Proud to be an Indian. With full force…JAI HIND!