Today, on India’s Republic Day, I am proud to be a citizen of the world’s largest democracy: Of a land that has a written constitution which is the longest in the world; 397 articles, 12 schedules.
There are many times, when with the rest of the nation, I weep for my country; I cry to see injustice, I have tears at the large scale corruption that exists, but even as I cry, I laugh out with joy, as some court in some part of India delivers a judgment that brings a political leader onto his knees, as some policeman somewhere in India escorts a rich man to jail, as some casteless citizen is allowed to enter the holy precincts of a hallowed place, on whose walls his father’s shadow dared not fall for centuries.
Today on my country’s Republic Day I am proud to be an Indian.
Oh yes it’s tough being proud when the whole billion and more try to step into an already packed train. When same billion, crowd onto roads not just in cars and rickshaws, not only in buses and bicycles, but jaywalk, stroll and saunter as if tar roads were made for pedestrians, and pavements belong legitimately to those who’ve built their huts and homes on them.
But even as I honk and shout and sigh, I laugh because I know we walk free, with no soldiers and guns keeping watch on us from rooftop above like I saw in Sri Lanka, and know exists in Pakistan and Bangladesh. We walk free because nobody stops me suddenly and asks for ID card. We walk free because we know, and we will fight to let you know that we belong to a free country:
Where we can laugh at a policeman if we are innocent and pull down a chief minister if he fails us. Where a farmer’s protest is still allowed on a celebration day!
Today on India’s Republic Day, I salute those who had the vision to guarantee such freedoms. Those, the courage to safeguard such freedoms; who fought off pressure from surrounding super powers and allowed an industrial India to emerge. Those, who withstood domestic dictators who in the name of ’emergency’ tried to curtail our freedom, and those who stand today against wolves in sheep’s clothing who through communal slogans get elected crying ‘development’.
On Republic Day, today, stand with me and guard this our fragile, fledgling democracy, who though much luckier than her neighbors where armies rule, still needs her people, us, to be alert, night and day, and watch out for those who would happily see there is no such day like this, next year.
Today on Republic Day remember our national motto: Satyameva Jayate, which means, ‘Truth Alone Triumphs’. Stand by that truth, my fellowmen and we will always have a Republic Day. Jai Hind..!
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