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Mainstream, VOL LV No 35 August 19, 2017

Disturbing Thoughts on I-Day, 2017

Sunday 20 August 2017, by SC


Today is August 15, 2017. This day marks the seventieth anniversary of our attainment of independence after around 200 years of British colonial thraldom. It is indeed a historic occasion which is being observed and celebrated as such.

It is on this day that we are once again reminded of the stirring words of our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who, in a message to the press seventy years ago, had thoughtfully underscored on August 15, 1947:

“We are citizens of a great country on the verge of bold advance... All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought or in action.”

To the eternal shame of the nation as a whole, the party now in power enjoying absolute majority at the Centre is not only totally oblivious of Nehru’s aforementioned injunction, but also dismisses it with utter contempt through its deeds so much so that the outgoing Vice-President of the Republic, while demitting his office last week, was forced to highlight the sense of helplessness and insecurity that has gripped the largest Muslim minority community in today’s India (something directly attributed to the vigilante groups who have got a licence to run amuck as their own leaders are occupying the Union Government). And these vigilante groups are further emboldened by the complete inaction of the government functionaries, from the PM downwords, to control their savage exuberance. It needs to be brought into focus that the erstwhile VP’s courageous warning against the misdeeds of such elements was met with derisive remarks by several constitutional functionaries, including the present VP, thereby setting a precedent that is wholly unwelcome and uncalled for. (The PM’s comments in this regard were also definitely unbecoming of the office he currently enjoys.) The BJP-RSS leaders’ outbursts on this score (an RSS activist even asked the former VP to leave this country) only help to vindicate their growing intolerance which is unacceptable in India, as the outgoing President, Pranab Mukherjee, opined at a recent public function.

It is necessary on this day to remember the countless immortal soldiers of our freedom struggle who won us independence through superhuman efforts and extraordinary sacrifices. Yet witnessing the opulence all around us and the widening disparities between the haves and have-nots one occasionally wonders if their endeavours, after all, did not go in vain. This feeling gets reinforced also by the acrobatics of those in power today for the idea of India our freedom fighters had dreamt of has no connection whatsoever with the project the former have in view.

These disturbing thoughts on the seventieth anniversary of our independence compel us to think anew of a second freedom struggle to rid the country of all the dross and dirt that are impeding its advance. However, before we embark on such an onerous task we must pay rich tributes to those who sacrificed the best part of their lives in the struggle for national emancipation so that we can march towards a radiant future in the days ahead. And finally on this day we must take the solemn pledge to strengthen our secular democracy which is under constant threat from the present-day rulers feverishly seeking to undermine it.

August 15 S.C.

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