It’s easy to take freedom for granted when we haven’t had to fight for it… when it has never been taken from us. On the threshold of our 69th Republic Day, maybe we should take a moment to reflect if we’ve justified our freedom as citizens of India, and as a community that India looks up to. The very birth of our community is contributed to a fight for freedom – as our forefathers risked their lives to escape the tyrannical barbarians and death in order to keep our holy fire burning and uphold the freedom of their religious identity.
Republic Day celebrates the coming into effect of the Indian Constitution which sets the framework of Indian laws, governmental principles/procedures, citizens’ duties and more importantly our Fundamental Rights – the basic human freedoms – universally applicable to all Indian citizens – irrespective of race, religion, caste, economic status or gender. Ever wonder… while there is always someone somewhere screaming louder than Arnab Goswami about how his/her/their Fundamental Rights are being undermined/abused, we’ve yet to come across people agitating or frenzied with guilt about not having delivered their Fundamental Duties. Sound familiar yet?
As a community, we have put a revolutionary spin on social reformist Tilak’s famous line, with, “Entitlement is my birthright and I shall have it”!! Yes – we’ve reduced the privilege of freedom into the mediocrity of entitlement. Our ancestors fought for freedom repeatedly – first, as Persians who had to escape religious persecution to retain the freedom to live and practice our glorious Zoroastrian religion; and later, as Indians who had to ward off the British to live with freedom and dignity as citizens of an independent, democratic nation. And after all that – it boils down to this? A country constantly in political/communal turmoil; and a community disunited in thought, word and deed.
Surely we can do better than that, and what better time to start than now, when India celebrates an especially exceptional Republic Day 2018. In addition to saluting the military, civil and cultural might of India, it is the selection of the Chief Guest, or Guests, may I say, for the Republic Day Parade, that is set to make Indian history. For the very first time, R-Day will host not one, but all ten leaders of the ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) countries! What a great moment of pride for India and what better way to globally assert India’s commitment to freedom and unity!
It is said, “Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity.” Let’s not take freedom for granted by mistaking privilege for entitlement. Let’s replace our constant demands from the nation and the community, with gratitude and a promise to give back. Let our common love for freedom become the binding factor for us as Indians and as a Community recommitted to justify our title as ‘the jewel in the Indian crown’.
Have a happy weekend and a Happy Republic Day! Jai Hind!