Patriotism is not jingoism. Neither, it should be forced on the people to stand for the Indian national anthem during movies. It’s a personal choice pretty much like our views on food, culture, politics, language and music. Every August 15 at the stroke of midnight, I make it a point to stand up respectfully listening to our national anthem, Jnana Gana Mana paying adherence to the miniature Indian tricolor on my work desk at home and it’s been years that I made it a point attending the flag raising ceremony at the Indian centre for Indian culture.
Being based out of India, I miss the Independence Day celebration and the fluttering of the tricolor at every traffic signal be it in Mumbai or Pune with kids waving cheerfully. Enthusiasm on Indian roads and symbolism surrounding I-Day sets the mood for a nation forgetting its ethnic, political or religious differences for a day to revel in our diversity and unity celebrating hundred of languages spoken over the length and breadth of the country. Surely, we don’t need August 15 to remind us that we are Indians first and not religious or ethnic affinity that must guide our actions. At the same time, it doesn’t harm in standing freely for the national anthem to show the spirit of togetherness despite the fact that we are weathering the storms or the tough times faced by the country. One thing which I like is how everyone gets into festive mood, the Indian army, NCC, Air Force and all women parade laden with small children forming the tricolor at Red Fort. Every year, the spectacle offers an enthralling affair that the few lucky ones can witness while the rest of us can gush at the grandeur on Indian TV channels.
This year we celebrate the 72nd Independence Day and it offers plenty of opportunities to reflect on our rich legacy as a nation, issues that keep plaguing us and the need to live up as the biggest democracy on earth as well as upholding values such as freedom of expression that makes us a secular nation. Education and inclusive growth, access to basic food or nutrition, laws to deter crime such as rape and sexual assault against women, protecting the rights of every citizen be it majority or minority are major challenges for a modern India. Being Indian in heart and soul, there are certain values which I feel very strongly about and hold close to my chest, our freedom is not and will never be traded. It makes our strength as a nation.
Indian tricolor on my work space.
We shall slug it out on various social media channels on the endless bhakt vs sickular or Modi vs Rahul debate but at least one day, we can take pride on our essence and identity as Indians. Cinema and cricket are our first love, a religion that many who are largely ignorant about the country’s essence fail to understand.Â It’s a matter of the heart, I’d like to say to cynics. Yes! There lies a life beyond films or cricket for India is all that and much more.Â Independence Day for me is to listen to the favorite patriotic songs and among the favorites are our national anthem Jnana Gana Mana,Â Kar chale hum fida from Haqeeqat and Ae Mere watan ke Logon that still brings tears to the eyes.
Of course, the colorful WhatsApp forwards and videos brighten the day for you know Independence Day is special. No matter where I stay in the world, India’s Independence brings back a sea of emotions and the identity is segued into the blood like the umbilical cord. An entire day out tomorrow with the flag raising day in the morning and Pranic Header’s Day as part of the meditation group that I follow. I may watch a patriotic Hindi film tomorrow. As clichÃ© as it sounds, it leaves a feel good feeling. Reflect on our values as Indians and ways we can contribute to making the country better for small steps gravitates towards multiplier effect for we can all contribute in our own small ways. I also pledge to start reading the Indian constitution.
Happy Independence Day