Saturday, August 15, 2009

Jan Gan Mann

India is celebrating its 63rd Independence Day today! I attended a flag hoisting ceremony earlier today, which was organised in a housing complex nearby.

As our Tricolour was unfurled and we sang "Jan Gan Mann", several thoughts were crisscrossing the contours of my mind.

I thought about what I had written on my blog last Independence Day - "Is India truly Independent?" I also thought about what we as a nation aspire for ourselves and our nation. And a lot of other thoughts came to my mind.

At the end of it, I felt that the freer we get, the lesser we think of what independence means to us. Let us compare ourselves to say our grandparents or even our parents. We have much more freedom than them, more choices in life and more opportunities. In our pursuit for the right selection for ourselves, we seem to have forgotten what freedom of this country really means to us, as Indians.

Today we think of self-actualisation (if I may borrow the concept from Maslow's Hierarchy). We have come up with the new age concepts of the world being one, the irrelevance of borders. Surely, this is a new fad.

Let's accept it, in all this we are forgetting what price our grandparents had to pay for this freedom. The freedom struggle and consequent Independence was not way back in the past - it was just 2-3 generations before us. yet we have forgotten all that happened?

We seem to worry more about the where the economy is headed, but we had forgotten the blood being shed by our armed forces in encounters every day on our western frontier, trying to prevent armed intrusions into India by so called jihadists who are threatening to destroy the Indian way of life.

I made this point on one of the Independence Day messages on Facebook. Soon I received an avalanche of angry messages from some people identifying themselves as liberals and peaceniks. Sample this: "Borders only lead to bloodshed - first create imaginary lines, call them borders, fight over them, shed your blood and then rejoice at a unknown freedom."

So how about opening our borders, welcoming the Chinese in, the Taliban in, etc. etc.? Well the peaceniks who advocate a bouundaryless world will be shitting bricks in their pants like the rest of us. The free speech that they enjoy (and liberally misuse) today to rant out all this will be gone, gone forever! I am not talking of the torture and pain we all will face. For freedom is something you never realise you have till you lose it!

Agreed, we need to be open minded. We certainly need to open borders for trade, technology inflow, intellectual discourse, but certainly not at the cost of India's security.

We need to reinforce within us and in generations to come, the price that we paid for our Independence and how we could sustain it. We need a collective patriotic feeling for our nation.

Towards this end, small steps help in the long run.

For instance, in Bombay, all cinemas play the national anthem before the show begins. And voluntarily everyone stands in attention and passionately sings silently. And if there is someone whose cellphone is ringing or is standing at attention - this person would certainly have it - he would get angry glares, etc. which would force him to fall in line the next time and least think what Jan Gan Mann means to us, hopefully bringing within him, a change of heart someday.

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