On August 15, 2014, India will celebrate her 67th Independence Day. But most of us feel awkward to call ourselves Indians and many of us even fail to understand the significance of this great day. Prominent leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Shahid Bhagat Singh, Lokmanya Tilak, Subash Chandra Bose, Lala Lajpat Rai, Madame Bhikaji Cama, Aruna Asaf Ali, Veer Savarkar, Kaka Joseph Baptista, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Chandrashekar Azad and many others have played a vital role in gaining independence for India. But today’s youth don’t even understand the meaning of freedom and take it for granted. Maybe, many of them never had to undergo the hardships faced by these leaders. Today, however, 67 years later, Independence Day is nothing more than a holiday for them like any other public or bank holiday. Even today, we seldom stand united and instead choose to recognise ourselves on the basis of our caste, creed, religion and culture. Instead of addressing ourselves as Indians first, we proudly claim that we belong to a particular caste or community.
I quote what India’s freedom fighter, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan has said: “My religion is truth, love and service to God and humanity. Every religion that has come into the world has brought the message of love and brotherhood. Those who are indifferent to the welfare of their fellowmen, whose hearts are empty of love, they do not know the meaning of religion.”
On January 26, 1950, the Indian Constitution was framed and we pledged that we would remain united irrespective of our caste or religion. But 64 years later, we find ourselves in a democracy killed by selfish and self-centred political parties and their leaders that promote their people. Such acts will adversely affect the unity of the nation. Selfish attitudes of some people have broken and distorted the unity of the nation. Power-hungry political parties and criminals are dividing the people on the basis of their caste, creed, religion and culture. They are indulging in vote bank politics that affects the development of the country.
Independence Day is a day for us to celebrate with the hoisting of our national flag, recitation of our national anthem, singing patriotic songs and organising social and cultural programmes. On this day, we should also remember the sacrifices made by our various freedom fighters who bravely fought for the nation’s independence and pay our due respect to them. But it’s a pity that after every Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations, the country’s national flag is strewn on the streets and people irrespective of caste, creed, religion or colour blithely walk over them. Even when the national anthem is played on radio or telecast on television, people don’t respect it by standing to attention and singing it. They are busy talking to their friends on their mobile phones or chatting with people around them. As Indians, we must show due respect for our country’s national flag, national anthem and national song. It is only through the sacrifices made by our various freedom fighters that we have managed to gain independence and become republic; otherwise we would still be living under the British dominion.
In the year 1947, when the question of granting in independence to India was being debated in the British Parliament, Sir Winston Churchill, the then Prime Minister of India had opposed this decision, and said, “Power will go into the hands of rascals, rogues and freebooters, and all Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight among themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air and water would be taxed in India.” At that time, many in India were infuriated with this statement. But today after 64 years, Sir Winston Churchill’s statement has finally come true. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had even promised the citizens of India that he would curb corruption and control inflation if he came to power. The NDA government was formed in May 2014, but corruption and inflation still prevails in the country. Modi has not swept away the dirt that the Congress left behind. Perhaps, he doesn’t want to.