26th January. This day in 1950 India chose to become a Republic adopting a secular Constitution that had been painstakingly written taking into consideration modifications and alterations, and giving thought to the aspects of equality and justice, making a set of fundamental rights such that every component of the Republic would be taken care of. Our elders thus proudly chose the path of democracy which brought the hope of a better tomorrow for every section of the society and a promise to empower the weakest among the weak.
Sixty years down that historic moment, where do we find ourselves? Our democracy should have matured with age and at sixty it should have ideally become a system that was flwalessly complete in growth and development. It should have achieved most of its goals and set new ones for the younger generation to accomplish.
This was perhaps the dream of most of the people who joined the freedom struggle making huge sacrifices of life and property, and even of a portion of our dear Motherland as the British brutally partitioned the country before finally leaving.
But what has become of the dreams of those principled freedom fighters? Their tortured souls demand an answer as we strive to find some meaning in the democracy that we are living in. Our elected representatives in the government have brought us back to a situation where it is difficult to feel really free, with globalisation literally tearing apart, not just our culture but threatening to ruin our agriculture and economic system. Today we are on the verge of getting toxins as food even as our farmers are committing suicides and that is not all: our fields are getting contaminated too through the GM seeds.
There is dissatisfaction among people and religious, liguistic, regional and caste based minorities have mushroomed all over. Kashmir is still far from finding peace. The Ayodhya issue has branched into a national calamity of sorts that has now seen immeasurable violence and senseless divisions among human beings.
There is unrest in the North-East. There are right wing groups who openly denounce the sacred Constitution of the country, but are never brought to book. Although a few feeble noises are heard in protest, nothing happens.
Various efforts to bring about some understanding between India and Pakistan have yet to bear fruit. The latest, Aman ki Asha, a joint venture of the Times of India, the oldest English newspaper in India and the Jung of Pakistan is limping even before it could start walking, almost "sabotaged" by the IPL Cricket series where Pakistani players were not included on the grounds of security threats. A leading English news channel has already dubbed this unfortunate turn of events as Aman ki Ashes.
"Hum laaye hain toofaan se kashti nikal ke
Iss desh ko rakhna mere bachchon smbhal ke"
I remember this message of the freedom fighters often, but what have I done to honour it?
And wonder how many in the present generation have heard or how many of my generation remember it?
As I wish everyone a happy Republic Day, a nagging thought in my mind is: Is this really a time when we can rest assured of the safety of our Constitution?