Friday, August 17, 2007

Redefining Independence Day …

15 August, 1947 – a day when India got independence from over two centuries of British rule.

Fifty-nine years later, does it mean anything to us? “Of course it does,” we cry in unison. TV channels will broadcast national celebrations, AIR will play patriotic songs and some important people will unfurl the national flag. But what about the aam janata (common man)? What do they do on August 15? I ’ll tell you what most of us will do. Get up late in the morning (it is a chutti yaar), glance through the Independence Day special published by different publications, check out some patriotic flicks on TV and hang out with friends. Or better still, most of us will see it as a perfect day to meet our long-lost relatives or friends. But how many of us stop to think (if even for a minute) what we mean to our nation? What have we, in our individual capacity, done for our nation? How many of us have helped in the public causes like literacy mission, blood donations or helped a blind man cross the road? Now you’ll wonder how ‘petty things’ like these are connected to the national cause?

Trust me, it is. Small gestures like these go on to make each one of us a responsible and generous citizen. Small things like lending your extra clothing and food for the flood struck citizens or working with NGOs during the college break will help us reach out to many needy people. Is that too much to ask from the Rang De Basanti generation? Certainly not. We had touching gestures of generosity during the Kargil war, Gujarat earthquake, tsunami devastations and more recently Mumbai blasts.

These hard times witnessed millions of Indians come out on the streets to help needy citizens in every possible way irrespective of caste, religion or region. The only thing that mattered then was humanity. Again, who were these people? They were the ordinary citizens, like you and I. If we can care for our fellow citizens in times of need, can’t we be humane to each other in everyday life?Don’t you think it’s time we stopped thinking of Independence Day as just an occasion for “remembering our national heroes and singing national anthem”?Let us give Independence Day a new meaning. Let it be a day for taking stock of our big and small contributions to society and setting self-goals for the year ahead. Let us celebrate each day as our Independence Day.

Let us contribute to our nation building, our ecology in every possible way. Let us be more civic and generous to each other.

That will be our true independence.

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