TALES OF TRAVESTY
DR. JITENDRA SINGH
In June 1930, Sir Winston Churchill, the then Prime Minister of England, had declared, ‘‘Sooner or later, we will have to crush Gandhi and the Indian Congress, and all that they stand for ’’. And in the December of same year, Churchill had said, ‘‘We have no intentions of casting away India, that most truly bright and precious jewel in the crown of the King, which more than all our dominions and dependencies, constitutes the glory and strength of the British empire .
It is difficult to answer how many of the present Congressmen attending the Republic Day celebrations would have ever heard or read of this remark which Churchill made at the expense of their parent organisation. Nevertheless, the ironic truth is that within two decades after that, India had shown the entire world the path to freedom and sovereignity while Churchill and his Conservative Party lost the elections and swallowed a humble pie. There were men who were barely out of their teens when they were sentenced but while still in prison they had turned grey-haired and middle-aged. Many of them died unsung, unhonoured, unrewarded. They got no ministerial berths, no political chairs, no Padmashris, no Padma Bhushans, no Bharat Ratnas.
Today, as we sit before the television set to watch the colourful Republic Day programme, we are only subjecting ourselves to yet another annual ritual to which our minds have got conditioned over the years. It is difficult to guess how many of the ministers and legislators spread across the length and breadth of this politically fertile country will be able to answer as to what precise historical reasons led our founding fathers to choose the date of 26 January for declaring India as a sovereign Republic. They may also be little aware of the fact that the then Prime Minister Nehru had personally wished C Rajagopalachari to take over as the first President of the new Indian republic on 26 January 1950 but, he was made to accept the preference that a majority of his colleagues expressed for Babu Rajendra Prasad.
The designer clad Minister of today represents the polity of India 2014. And on 26 January, the Minister has a hectic schedule. In the morning, he is to be on time for the Republic day function at the stadium. Also lined up with him will be all the senior bureaucrats who obediently line up less out of any reverence for the Republic of India and more out of fear of being noticed as being absent when their political bosses are around. The Army is on alert lest any terrorist incident should mar the celebrations and the doctors are ready stand-by with emergency ambulance and bottles of blood lest any VIP should require urgent assistance in the event of a violent militant attack. In the late hours of afternoon or the early hours of evening… one can put it either way…. the same ministers and bureaucrats are there on time at Raj Bhavan to attend the Governor’s ‘‘At Home’’ on the occasion of Republic Day. But at the Governor’s ‘‘At Home’’, there are others too including several small-time activists who are smart enough to manage an invitation to the lawns of Raj Bhavan so that they could go home and boast that they had their evening tea with the Governor.
The common man, on the other hand, complacently watches the celebrations on television. The pageantry, the spectacle, the gaiety, the colour, the extravaganza of Republic Day are enough to woo an unprivileged Indian have-not. He is overwhelmed by rainbow colours running in symmetrical streaks across the sky as helicopters and aircrafts join in customary salute. He is enchanted by the sight of young boys and girls in their traditional dress dancing in an ecstasy which is seldom witnessed.
He is impressed by the smart display of soldiers marching up to the chief guest in carefully timed steps. He hums when music fills the air. He cares not who is awarded Padmashri or Padma Bhushan and bothers not to know about the receptients of Police medals. For a brief moment, he is contented to forget his day to day woes of deprivation, discrimination and under employment. As the unrequited Indian youth helplessly resigns to the monotony of his cheerless life, for Umapathy, a holiday is perhaps the only bonus that a Republic Day offers but unfortunately the Republic Day of 2014 fell on a Sunday. And thus, yet another Republic Day of much hyped rhetoric that makes no difference to his monotonous existence, a La, ‘‘….Bahut Sunee Takreeren, Badli Nahin Taqdeeren!’’