By ROLI S
“ I do not want that our loyalty as Indians should be in the slightest way affected by any competitive loyalty whether that loyalty arises out of our religion, out of our culture or out of our language. I want all people to be Indians first, Indian last and nothing else but Indians.” These are the words of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Architect of the Indian Constitution. At the same time, “Why must I cling to the customs and practices of a particular country forever, just because I happened to be born there? What does it matter if its distinctiveness is lost? Need we be so attached to it? What’s the harm if everyone on earth shares the same thoughts and feelings, if they stand under a single banner of laws and regulations? What if we can’t be recognised as Indians anymore? Where’s the harm in that? No one can object if we declare ourselves to be citizens of the world. Is that any less glorious?” These are the words of Sharath Chandra Chattopadhyay, an eminent literary figure of my country. When my nation, Republic of India celebrates its Republic Day on 26 January, I find myself at a crossroads, whether to be loyal to my nation and shun all loyalties towards religion, culture and language, etc., or to believe in the term “Vaasudhev Kutumbkam” and imagine myself a citizen of a world where everything is hunky dory and all is well?! What is happening in my country nowadays is disturbing me. My country’s democracy is being challenged and constitution being questioned. Every day I see politicians, lawyers, law makers, administrators, social activists, religious and student leaders, philosophers, literary and entertainment figures and many others slug it out on television and other social media, each trying to prove why he or she is meaning well for the country and why they are champions for the cause of India and Indianness. As a lay person who loves her nation, I am left more confused than wiser by these talking heads! Whom to trust and which deliberation to accept today is my issue, and it is a big matter of contention in my life today. I love my country and I do not want any harm to come to this country. I have lived peacefully with friends from different communities, I have enjoyed and breathed many cultures in one India, I have sung ‘Jan Gan Man’ and ‘Vande Matram’ with so much enthusiasm and patriotic feelings at every opportunity. I have worked honestly and contributed in my own little way towards the development of the nation, all in all I am an Indian who has silently and truly loved ‘India’, even though I have understood and acknowledged many of its shortcomings. But, today, I have serious trust issues and I seek clarity because in the recent few years I thought India was emerging as a powerful nation in the world, which was really beginning to take notice of and respect it as an economic mainstay and a peaceful nation. Then why today there are risen so many doubts and lack of confidence in the mind of its own populace? I do not know what to rely on anymore. On this Republic Day, I wish to know whether to believe in the united Republic of India or the voice of ‘Tukde tukde’? I want clarity, whether I should stand by my religion and culture or stand by my country for its long term good? I wish to know how I can be called and known as an ‘Indian’ in today’s world of passports and visas, if I do not have my updated identity papers with me. I also need awareness and insight on the fact why I should favour romantic ideologies of the past and present over safety, security and defence of this nation? I wish that someone makes it clear for me how the ‘voices’ that are being raised by people in protests and demonstrations will help strengthen the society and the nation in the long run? Is this ‘Vasudha’ really one ‘Kutumb’, when there are boundaries everywhere? Every country on this Earth demands its citizens to have papers to live there, then how can I live in my country without papers? I absolutely do not know whether to trust the sweat and blood of the ‘Jawans’ on our borders or violence in institutions of higher learning? My head is full of everyday powwow and exchange of ideas but seriously I do not know which attempt or which angle to trust? Which is more beneficial for my country? I understand that today my nation is divided because of these trust issues. Nobody wants to trust anybody. There are more mudslingers in the society than there are real and frank answer givers. Even when answers are given people, do not want to give the green light because of lack of trust in so many minds. As a secular lay person of this Republic of India on this Republic Day, I demand, “Please resolve my trust issues because I want good of ‘India’ in the long run.” Jai Hind.
(Roli S is an Educator, Teacher Trainer, Author and School Reviewer based in Mumbai)