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Mainstream, Vol XLV, No 35

Momentous August

by Som Benegal

Saturday 18 August 2007



On the 15th of August India would be celebrating the Sixtieth year of its Independence from British rule after a long, hard, and unique non-violent struggle, (not always non-violent, though). Sixty years is the time (in our culture) for introspection, weighing of gains and losses, of a renewal of faith in ourselves and the world around us. As it happens, August is also an august month for some very decisive moments in our history and the world. August was the month, on the 9th in 1942 when Gandhiji declared the last surge for our freedom struggle when he called upon Britain to “Quit India”, and his own countrymen to “Do or Die”. And August was the month when World War II came to a decisive end when the United States dropped the first global atom bomb on Hiroshima in Japan demolishing the city and its people 180,000 of them in half a minute. Not content, nearby Nagasaki also went into oblivion two days later in a second atomic attack.

It would not be wrong to say that in the circumstances August at various times saw the most profound changes in the world and possibly human history. Because following these Augusts, though World War II officially ended, a Cold War raged into the new century whose embers have been doused only recently but ignited by new tensions and violence on the most horrific scale in “shock and awe” operations. Relentless terrorisms of various kinds have plagued the world—our own country included.

In measuring our own country’s journey through these six decades shall we say we have done a good job, or as many nay-sayers, the ones who never say yes, claim, we are the most corrupt, the filthiest, the most beastly people on earth. Well, no one in the world is all-shining. Some of the so-called most advanced countries have corruption on a massive scale, which make ours peanuts. But that is no consolation. Our democracy is a sham, they say. And yet, how many times the people have democratically punished their leaders and yet restored them democratically after forgiving them! That’s shining democracy. The point is that in spite of faults, mistakes, impious acts, wrongs to society and people, greed, and other abominations, we, the people and their responsible leaders have vigorously fought to right the wrong, to establish human rights, the rights of man, woman and child. We have not stood by the silent and just watching or fell to abject surrender. That is the redeeming feature. That is our salvation and our victory in the times to come.

That is the meaning of our momentous August.

(Courtesy : Neighbourhood Flash)

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