Time -”Kaal”- not for any reason is embodied as the greatest philosophical Hindu virtue as “Mahakaal”. Else, how could one explain the “on the face” mocking list of events to the Indian Republic on its 67th Republic day itself? Fifteen hundred women ready to storm the “Shani” temple in Ahmednagar, challenging ‘who decides what allowed’; an encounter in Kokarnag in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir between security forces and militants; suicide of three students in Tamil Nadu, bringing to fore the issue of “Education institutions as instruments of profit”; with not yet receded debate on declassified files on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and the list goes on……and on.
Don’t forget the incidental French connection; President of France in attendance-a nation which has emanated the idea of Equality, Fraternity and Justice-if only to remind these values of democracy at the most opportune time. Our preamble to the Constitution too enshrines us as a “Sovereign, Socialist, Secular and a Democratic Republic”; but for their visible functionality rather than structural framework.
Pessimism is virtuous, if it was once rooted in optimism- symbolizing at least a continuity in thinking-so what regressive ; for my school days impressionable mind too was rooted in optimism. Reflective wisdom of by gone years had the immanence of a definitive pattern. For every Republic or an Independence day eve was marked by :An emotional song of “Aaye mere watan ke logon” ,one odd song from film “Haqeeqat” with passage of time giving space to “Maa tujhe salaam”.
Nation’s memory would cyclically recapitulate to fade away, only to be collectively conscious next. One wondered for this manifestation to Hindu concept of “Cyclic Nature” of time as against the Western concept of time linearity. I am reminded of philosopher Hume “We ought not receive as reasoning the relations of Time and Place , since mind can’t go beyond what is immediately present to the senses”.
Call it metaphysical irony in space and time. For as I grappled to demystify the spectra of simultaneity this Republic Day, with the conferring of Asoka Chakra; nation’s highest peace time gallantry award by the Supreme commander of the Armed Forces, as it coincided with split-second precision of flashing news : “Suspected terror module busted “ and “…rakes up beef ban controversy in Hyderabad.”? For the widow of the deceased martyr was too engulfed with the personal loss, than deciphering “ whose cause her husband served while laying his life” ?
The contrasting emotions are too palpable to be ignored by a thinking citizenry; for such like contesting moments remind us of a narrative; for we don’t see That when we see What ,more so when the grandeur of a nation is on display. Or we see it playing every day- but for it’s ugliness- and for want of celebrating our idealness, choosing to ignore on special occasions .And today definitely was the day.
As part of a conscious endeavor I thoughtfully walked to the Centre Point of Shillong city; an arm’s length from my location, to witness the centrally organized Republic Day celebrations. And behold…
For I saw Indians!!!Joyous Indians celebrating their Indianness to the live musical performances ; relegating the occasion too as geography melted giving place to a “Common Identity”.
I for one forgot the maudlin number of noises leading to the occasion: Whether the longest ruling dispensation had sidelined the other tall leaders of the time or the simmering debates surrounding the recent de-classification of files relating to Subhash Chandra Bose.
We as Indians consciously don’t deny the India of today as against the one dreamt by the founding fore-fathers. For incremental steps taken had swung between; excessive Optimism to excessive Pessimism ,for both are wrong. I too am reminded of Dr BR Ambedkar’s apprehension that “Political Bhakti” is more dangerous than “Religious Bhakti”, even though the latter aims at elevating the soul. Practicing democracies as ours gives universal suffrage of one-individual, one-vote but what about one-vote, one value in the face of social and gender inequalities?
As celebrations for the day eclipsed, how I wished my home state too- for that matter the Federal Republic of India- had the denouement of such public platforms (like the public nature of Socratic debates in the Greek republic)in the language of their contextual culture, with music as a binding force. For music as religion requires no Prophets or Gods; having a universal language and understanding, composed and rendered by mankind for the mankind.
As argumentative Indians, our debates will always swing from one identity to the other, as to quarantine the nature of our nation’s formation: Are we the sole nation in comity of West Phalian nations to have got freedom on Soft Power of “Satyagraha and Ahimsa” as against other West Phalian nations who identified with Hard Power? Or we purposely chose to omit Clement Attlee’s assertions that British were forced to leave not because of much propagated claims of the power of “Satyagraha and Ahimsa”- which they were capable of handling for historically Quit India movement had petered out by the end of 1942-but for Nineteen Mutinies witnessed between 1942 -1946 in British Indian; Navy, Army and the Air Force?
Do the Two sides to every question need Two answers? For in the collective consciousness of our country, no other institution like the Defense Forces unite this disparate nation; providing a common identity, a common dream for aspirations to become an India of our dreams. And there lies the split second precision of the military might on display - year after year- down the Raj Path. Visible precision collectively look glamorous as if to be imbibed in the trinity play of the Individual, the Precision and the Life.
This Republic Day was a historical first too. It witnessed the participation of a foreign military contingent; French Army’s 35th Infantry Regiment. Consciously spare the occasion please for want of atonement on the part of the French now(as the regiment served in India in 1784); for in India of then, The India you now chose to call, atonement is Contextual and Time Specific.
What for sure India needs is to extend an invite to France many more times (having already extended a record five times), till panoply of our democracy has the ethos of Montesquieu’s separation of constitutional powers, so that “no man is afraid of the other” and Rousseau’s “social contract” for the emanation of the “legitimate Power”. For you don’t have to be strong all the time .You need to stay inspired instead.