Raghuvir KhannaFamous FiveWe just went past yet another republic day. Infact the 60th. As kids it used to be a holiday. Just another holiday to look forward to. One of the days you could mark on the calendar and make plans. You could plan a cricket match or decide to do some serious reading (Famous Five/Secret Seven variety mostly ) or just gorge on some of mom’s delicacies. There was no thought given to the significance of the day or trying to understand why we had a holiday.

Independence day still held some meaning for me. Dad would insist on hoisting the flag on the terrace top and the fervor of patriotic songs on DD and AIR would infuse one with a sense of love for one’s country. Independence day would bring with it the customary showing of Gandhi on TV. The images and stories of the founding fathers of our independence would add meaning to 15th august as a special day.

A day to celebrate a day to remember. The day we threw out the imperialists and started giving shape to the brave new free India. But about the republic day. Yes we had the grand parade, The cannons, the guns and each state trying to showcase the best and their brightest of their culture in a 10 minute capsule. But did the day have a message. If it did, it wasn’t clear to me in my growing up days.

But now as i think back i see the significance of the day.It is the day the constitution came into effect. That single piece of document laid the seeds for democracy to take shape. It promised rights to every citizen of India. It laid down rules of engagement between the judiciary and the executive. It dealt with the extremely tricky centre-state relationship and demarcated control domains for both and laid grounds of rederessal. 15th august was the physical act of throwing out the British and taking the seat in Delhi. But 26th Janaury laid down what we intend to do once we have the seat. Being on top is not the main deal, staying there is.

26th Jan laid down our pathway to staying on top, on staying sovereign, on staying a free democratic nation .We would be in the list of failed nation states or nation states who don’t have a day of peace in their existence or nation states whose people are seeing prosperity without freedom We did not want any of these options on 15th august. 26th Jan ensured we did not get any of those options.

We have huge challenges to over come in this new millennium. We have over 400 million people below the line of poverty. Basic education is still a dream for a significant number of Indian children. We still have people dying of diseases in our country which have become extinct in most of the 21st century world. Social inequalities still run riot in some of our more populous states. The ill effects of climate change will surely hit the 2nd most populous country hard. Control of water resources may lead to wars with the most populous country. The western border continues to be as volatile as ever. But these challenges are not because of 26th jan 1950.These challenges remain largely thanks to a the system responsible for implementing the constitution.

The constitution has not failed us, we have failed the constitution. We can still redeem ourselves in front of that great document. A humble start would be by trying to understand the importance of 26th Jan and trying to lead a life which ensures we adapt the constitution both in letter and spirit and not wait from direction from our political lords. Democracy is more important now than independence. Let’s enrich it/ Lets participate.

Love.. Raghu

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