Celebrating Independence Day? Really??

Vande Mataram & a very happy Independence Day fellow citizens. We always proudly wish each other this day, year after passing year, 70 so far, (WOW!!!).. … and yet, sadly, it remains just that — a WISH! The dictionary  defines “wish” as :feeling or expressing a strong desire or hoping for something that cannot or probably will not happen! Now THAT does not sound good at all. But if we do not kid ourselves, it aptly describes the “sad but true” present.

Pick up any newspaper for instance, and do not even bother to go beyond the front page… the sorry state of affairs today is plastered across EVERYDAY in bold font — wars, bombings, terrorist attacks, rapes, child molestation, farmers’suicides, security in tatters, false promises, illiteracy, mounting pollution, spawning poverty, inequality, lost opportunities, growing unrest, globesity, stress … the list is endless and equally hopeless. So what are we celebrating today? really?

A survey by the Podar Institute of Education among 18-23 year olds in Bombay, Bangalore and Madras revealed that on an average 10% of the respondents knew what the colours of the National Flag stood for. Less than 40% could sing the full National Anthem correctly. And only 34% Mumbaikars knew who Bhagat Singh was. Shocked???… But, before you shake your head in despair and go “tsk, tsk”…. think! …. Can we blame the genXers? Not really, coz , all that this survey actually highlights is a dire need for new HEROES… today’s people, fighting today’s scourges… new age champions of new age causes, that our youngsters can relate to on a personal level just like old-timers relate to the “tryst with destiny” — truly, madly, deeply!

I was born in the ’70s, yet, Katy Perry’s Firework ignites more of that “can do” spark in me than most of the so-called patriotic numbers. Chak De‘s kuch kariye…. BMB‘s zinda and Lagaan‘s badhe chalo resonate way more TODAY than the golden oldies as they prod our inner nationalist to go ahead and do something worthwhile…. just like —

— Arunachalam Muruganantham: from Tamil Nadu, who invented a low-cost sanitary pad making machine and “innovated grass-roots mechanisms for generating awareness about traditional unhygienic practices around menstruation in rural India.”

OR….

— Pratyush Rathore: from IIT-Bombay, who chucked a lucrative job to pursue his dream of teaching. “After training students for IIT entrance exams for three years, Rathore purchased land to set up a school in a small village close to his hometown – Sirlay, in Madhya Pradesh.”

OR….

Surbhi Sarna: Forbes‘ “bright young star”.. founder of nVision Medical, because at age 13 she suffered from “ovarian cysts that were so painful they made her faint.”

OR…

— Chandeep Singh: the spunky teenager from Jammu. A double amputee skater, who lost both his arms when he got electrocuted, “but that didn’t keep him away from sports. He is a national-level skater in inline and competes with able-bodied skaters beating all odds.”

OR…

— Dipa Karmakar: who now needs no introduction!

Arunima Sinha….Upasana MakatiAzhar IqubalRitesh Agarwal.. Gauri Mishra… Fortunately, the Indian firmament is teeming with several such bright stars, in every field, glimmering with hope despite the looming darkness, reminding us once again how “tough times don’t last, tough people do!”

How many among us know about or acknowledge or take inspiration from the achievements of these superstars? or for that matter the many nameless, faceless citizen soldiers of today “making a difference” in their own small way. How many of us really care about the octogenarian aunty spreading the message of waste segregation & recycling.. or the young manager taking out precious time everyday to feed slum kids hygienic home-cooked meals… or students of the local school urging us to “say NO to plastic” with their banners and nukkad nataks… or the retired professor teaching a bunch of underprivileged kids on the footpath… or the town’s green brigade trying relentlessly to “save the forests and plant a million saplings”… How many?

Sometimes we do know, and acknowledge too. But do we stand in support? Do we imbibe the noble sentiment? Do we make an effort to change? We duly run the “Freedom Run”and pat ourselves on the back, but conveniently leave Bisleri bottles lying about as an ugly reminder of our lop-sided patriotism — there’s a big pile I saw this morning on the Faridabad Road!!!

What now then??? Well, this Independence Day delve into your self for some answers…. strive to be “independent” from the dogmas, shackles, norms, inhibitions, lethargy, indifference and hypocrisy that bind you. Try and take the first step. Get yourself a re-usable cotton Tricolour instead of the plastic flags that are mindlessly discarded on 16th August and litter the roads in tatters. Bring your own eco-friendly bag when shopping. Reduce the use of plastic. Save a little water everyday. Plant a tree. Donate some stationary at the local government school. Take the rice bucket challenge. Stop wastage of any kind. Compost with kitchen waste.  Go desi. Just smile. That’s all it takes… to —

ignite the light and let it shine…  

Just own the night like the 4th of July…… 

‘Cause, baby, you’re a firework… 

Come on, show ’em what you’re worth …  Jai Hind!!!

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