Bikram Vohra says only a handful of super-patriots risked their lives to take on the colonists while the majority did nothing but aid and abet the invaders
Every year I put out this article or a form of it hoping someone will agree. Lonely me. So far no one has patted me on the back and said, you have a point. So, I soldier on.
I have no hesitation in celebrating all that is wonderful in my country. I am in awe of our diaspora that has made its mark around the world. Our people have reached the pinnacle of the arts and sciences. Our music resonates in every genre of sound. Indians have made business acumen their forte and whether it is retail or finance, aviation or shipping, trade or commerce, medicine or education, Indians are part of the spearhead at home and abroad.
On this canvas I find it difficult to see any virtue in recalling the colonial yoke and celebrating independence. That was an aberration that lasted far too many centuries and while it is vital to remember the lessons from that history and that abject sell-out today’s 1.2 billion people no longer need pomp or splendour to mark the occasion. From my point of view without being far too dramatic most Indians did nothing to achieve that freedom. It was a broken empire at the end of a brutal war and Britain’s need for rebuilding that spurred the 1947 departure of the jewel in that crown. Only a handful of super-patriots risked their lives to take on the colonists while the majority did nothing but aid and abet the invaders.
So, it is an annual indulgence in vanity that we hop around on August 15 and engage in self congratulations. Rather this day was dedicated to the elimination of not just the common enemies of mankind like poverty, injustice and disease but also to the homegrown viruses of caste, corruption and an absence of hope against sexist prejudice, infanticide and greed.
Rather that than all that speechmaking stuff that no one really needs nor is it any more relevant than the shibboleths and sermons of the last half a century, present incumbents reading with mind-boggling insincerity from the very same script.
No, let’s change the system, let’s change the dynamics and talk on August 15 of what is to be not what is.
The house is not in order. The current mood is sullen and hostile. The united fabric of India itself sometimes seems in jeopardy and the power of youth and technology is staggering and held in check by a very fragile rein.
The acid of the untruth fed generations is eating through that resolve and no one really believes in the political promise any more than they do that a borrower will return their loan.
This year again, we will recall for a brief moment the Unknown Soldier without knowing why and certainly not prepared as a nation to do the men in uniform any reverence for the next 11 months and 29 days. Then the verbal volleys, replete with their hypocritical content will be hurled from a thousand microphones to tens of thousands of indifferent TVscreens and the martyrs of the past will be dusted and pulled out the drawer of distant memory, given a bit of a hurrah only to be wrapped again till next time.
Let the rope go. It’s over. The British have gone. There is no need for this day to be special except as a mark of respect to those who fought for our freedom and for the fact that no foreign flag will fly on our ramparts again. Make August 15 count for more than window dressing.