Update: The blog post earned Editor’s Choice status on Paperblog.
When our National Festivals arrive, there’s a surge of patriotic songs on TV and Radio. Songs that extol the bravery of our martyrs and the greatness of our beloved nation. Songs that have become classics on the strength of their great music and lyrics. Songs that can still give us goosebumps and fill our heart with pride for our country.
Yet, to tell you frankly, the India described in some of these songs is the India I’ve never seen. No, I am not the one to question my country’s freedom and greatness in the name of intellectualism. I’m too sentimental for that sort of thing. Nor am I questioning the greatness of these songs. I love listening and crooning to them!
But just consider these:
‘जहां राम अभी तक है नर में, नारी में अभी तक सीता है.’
‘होठों पर सच्चाई रहती है, जहां दिल में सफाई रहती है.’
“हम पेट भरे दो रोटी में और खुश हैं एक लंगोटी में.
Sound like tales of an unfamiliar country, don’t they?
The India we know now is the country where even the honor of little girls is being torn to shreds by men. And where the increasing number of fake cases filed by women proves that innocence and sacrifice is no longer the mark of Indian women. Where it has become impossible to trust anyone. And where we all are running in a race to acquire more and more, even at the cost of our country, our Nature and even our dear ones.
Here is a song that sounds more true today. Maybe it tells the story of partition of India. I don’t know. But just think of selfishness that we see spreading around us, think of rising crimes, especially against women, think of corruption, poverty, still prevailing and politically motivated casteism, think of terrorism, then I’m sure this song would sound true even today. And sadly so.
But this is not the fault of this party or that. All art at blame. Including We, the People.
(And this isn’t the situation of India alone. The whole world is becoming more and more terrifying. Sounds pessimistic, I know. But if you just consider the rising terrorism, the nuclear threats and the refugee crisis of present day, you’d know why I feel this song holds true for almost the entire. world.)
I do not doubt the greatness of our country and its past glory. But alas, that past glory seems a distant dream now. A treasure that we lost because of our own selfishness. And the result was that we lost our freedom and had to endure almost 200 years of slavery. Our brave freedom fighters rescued India from that mire. But here we are, again engaged in digging our feet deep into slime.
Just half an hour spent browsing through social networks or listening to TV news is enough to fill the heart with bitterness and mind with anxiety.
Maybe that’s why people today are questioning whether we really are free. Maybe that’s why we have started questioning the celebration of even the Independence Day and Republic Day. And we now have people that even dare to say no to singing National Anthem and Vande matram!
But we must remember that national festivals don’t just celebrate a date. And national songs and slogans don’t just hail a piece of land. They celebrate India’s flora and fauna, it’s natural splendor, its music, its literature, its art and architecture. They celebrate the hopes, dreams, ambitions and aspirations of millions of us. And more than that, they celebrate the dedication, determination, struggle, sacrifice and achievements of numerous brave Indians. Our national festivals celebrate and salute those who sacrificed themselves to pull India back from a black pit. Our immortal heroes who added their greatness to the glory of our motherland. When we celebrate our national glory, we are celebrating these heroes too.
And so, keeping with the proud spirit of the day, here let me share a happier song too in celebration of our heroes and their achievements.
Despite all the bitter realities, our Independence Day should still be a matter of pride for all of us. Because our Independence is a very hard won achievement. It is also a responsibility. What our ancestors won for us, we have to maintain it and add to its splendor.
And so, without hesitation and without doubts, let’s all cry out, “Jai Hind!”
“ऐ मेरे वतन के लोगों, खूब लगा लो नारा,
यह शुभ दिन है हम सब का, फेहरा लो तिरंगा प्यारा.”
And let’s all remember,
“वो लाए थे तूफ़ान से कश्ती निकाल के,
इस देश को रखना है अब हमें संभाल के.”
That means, whatever faults we are seeing in our country today, it is our responsibility to free our Mother India from them. It is our responsibility to strengthen our great nation, clean the present day slime and build a path to a bright future.
To begin with, here’s something we can do easily. Stop forwarding hateful and abusive messages on Facebook and Twitter. And discourage others from doing so too. Most of the sensational messages, images, videos and news we see on social networks are fake or manipulated. So let’s not contribute to their spread.
Happy Independence day to all!
Jai Hind! Jai Hindi ki sena!
*The words in Hindi are all from famous songs. I have slightly altered one couplet (the last) but I claim no creative ownership of these lyrics.
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