Back in the day, when I was still in school, 26th of Jan was a huge deal for us. We used to spend weeks and months practicing after and during hours for the annual Republic Day celebrations our school used to organize. There were march pasts, parades, dances,food stalls, games, costumes etc etc and even though we are all non-resident Indians, we would never feel closer to home than on that day.
My school was huge and it had a massive oval shaped lawn in the center. All the students from the fifth to the twelfth grade participated on this day and a unique and inspiring theme was chosen for each year.
I don’t remember what we did in fifth, but in sixth, we did a group dance representing each of the diverse states of India. Each class was in charge of one region and I, sadly, since I was tall, was put into the prop team. Now don’t get me wrong. Making props is okay. But being in the prop team didn’t mean making props, but being a prop.
Since Rajasthan is famous for being a desert and having castles, colours and well, camels, I was a camel. As embarrassing as that sounds, I did it with the biggest smile I could possibly put on, as the other people in my friends group, dressed in lovely ghagras and jewelry and dandiya sticks, mocked at me. Someone had to do it, right? It was okay if it was me.
The next year was a game-changer though as my friends and I were chosen to dance in the Republic Day school parade, in front of the dignitaries. Surprisingly we were given Rajasthan again and we did a puppet dance (This state is also famous for their puppet theater) which everyone really liked.
Ever since I’ve left school, I’ve forgotten what it feels to annually relive the day our country was made a democracy for the first time. So many people spent sleepless night trying to draft a constitution that they hoped would unite not just 28 states, but also a million cultures, languages, religions, traditions and emotions. One can’t even imagine what a daunting task it must have been to incorporate everyone’s voice and opinions into one forum. It’s awe-inspiring to know that the process only took three years, considering back then they did not even have social media and would have had to rely on traditional methods to gather information about the various scattered provinces and kingdoms that the country was once comprised of. If that is not true love for the nation, I don’t know what is.
It’s been a long time since 1950 and it goes without saying that the country has changed significantly since then. As much as the fourth estate would like to disagree, we have made progress. We still remain far behind the other countries in terms of personal and road safety, environmental cleanliness and scientific research, but that does not mean we haven’t moved at all.
It’s really sad that after leaving school, every Indian gets an opportunity to hoist the tricolor and sing the ‘Jana Gana Mana’ only twice a year. It really shows how disconnected we tend to become from our patriotic side when we begin to lead lives of our own.
But today really got me thinking about what true patriotism could be. I don’t really want to give just another uninspiring ‘lecture’ about being proud of our nation. Social media websites and news channels will have enough of that today to last us for an entire six months . But something that a person addressed in today’s function really struck me.
Don’t wake up and try to change India. It’s too big for us to handle. Deal with it. If you want to do something, look outside your window. Do you see that stray dog dirtying your street? Do you see that restaurant dumping paper plates on the pavement? Do you see a pile of rubbish at the corner of the road? Do you see a beggar , crying for food?
Go fix that.
No , seriously.
It’s not that big a task for us to handle. You don’t need to go to the higher authorities to approach something that is blatantly staring at you in the face.
Just spend a few rupees, buy a dustbin and place it where the problem is.
They say our country is becoming increasingly tolerant. But I believe that is incorrect. The real issue is that we have become dangerously tolerant. We tolerate every bit of nonsense our environment, lakes and people are being made to suffer and only raise our voices or candle sticks when it is far too late.
Don’t over think
And if you’re asking yourself, “What?”, pat yourself on the back. That question marks the beginning to every journey of success that has ever been embarked on this planet. Ask yourself what you can do today , every week and every day for yourself and your people and trust me, one day, you won’t need the national flag anymore to remind you of how you feel towards your India.