Mainstream, VOL LV No 6 New Delhi January 28, 2017
Clarion Call on R-Day 2017
Tuesday 31 January 2017, by
On January 26 this year, when we observe our sixtyeighth Republic Day, it is most pertinent for us to recall the message to the nation from our first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru, on our first Republic Day on January 26, 1950:
There is a peculiar appropriateness about this January 26, for this day links up the past with the present and this present is seen to grow out of that past. Twenty years ago we took the first pledge of independence. During these twenty years we have known struggle and conflict and failure and achievement. The man who led us through apparent failure to achievement is no more with us but the fruit of his labour is ours. What we do with this fruit depends upon many factors, the basic factors being those on which Gandhiji laid stress throughout his career—high character, integrity of mind and purpose, a spirit of tolerance and cooperation and hard work. I can only suggest to our people that we should found our republican freedom on these basic characteristics and shed fear and hatred from our minds and think always of the betterment of the millions of our people.
Sixtyseven years ago there was an element of continuity between January 26, 1950 and January 26, 1930, the date fixed by the Lahore Congress of December 1929 to be observed as the day of complete independence across the country (since it was that Congress, held on the banks of the Ravi, which had for the first time given the call for purna swaraj or ‘complete independence’ for the nation from alien rule).
Today as we remember our first Republic Day we do, regrettably, experience a feeling of disconnect and discontinuity precisely because those in power at the Centre at present have no link whatsoever with either the freedom struggle or our first PM and are also totally divorced from the ideas and ideals of the Father of our Nation.
Moreover, these Hindutvavadis have never been comfortable with the essence of our Constitution and had in the past feverishly worked to alter it beyond recognition.
A year ago it was unambiguously pointed out in these columns:
The Narendra Modi dispensation has heightened anti-Muslim feelings thereby fanning communal conflagration in various parts as has been witnessed in Muzaffarnagar on one side and aggravated caste tensions by systematic attacks on Dalits on the other.
The situation now is no better. Over and above such problems exacerbating social strife the sudden demonetisation of high denomination currency has resulted in allround economic dislocation and engendered recession thereby adversely affecting our working people who have been forced to bear the real burden of this whimsical step, the claim of containment of black money having been blown into thin air with the gradual unfolding of the real state of affairs.
The scenario is indeed grim as is becoming increasingly transparent with every passing day. It is against this depressing backdrop that the Indian public have been left with practically no option but to fight back this authoritarian offensive launched by the Union Government with all the strength at their command. And this is where the mobilisation of all secular, democratic, forward-looking and well-meaning elements and forces with the express purpose of defeating the policies and actions of the Central dispensation assumes overriding importance and urgency.
Time is fast running out. The need of the hour is to unite and act without the slightest hesitation and/or delay. That is the clarion call on this year’s Republic Day as dark and ominous clouds hover over the national horizon.
January 23 S.C.