Thursday, October 6, 2022

A historic 75th Independence Day

India’s 75th Independence Day on August 15,2022 is being celebrated with nationalist fervor as people across the entire nation hoist the ‘Tiranga’ in response to ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign under the aegis of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. Tiranga means three colours” or “tricoloured,” which is the common name for the national flag. The call by the Modi government which seeks to imply that nationalism and the government are on the same page. There has been a clear effort since 2014 to change the narrative of secularism to mean secularism for appeasement at the cost of the national interest and secularism that acknowledges the rights of the majority community. Today since 2014, India has undergone a series of changes many of which are in contrast with the prevailing narrative. It is a matter of concern, that just as the nation is celebrating its 75th Independence Day, some issues have been highlighted. It is to be noted that besides celebration of the historic day, it is also an occasion to remember the leaders and countless people who were involved with Indian independence movement. Some were hanged while others suffered at the hands of the colonial rulers. The celebrations of Independence Day and Republic Day over the years has under major changes. The most glaring is that India’s first prime minister Nehru has been left out in the Karnataka government’s Ghar Tiranga advertisement. It may be forgiven if a freedom fighter may have been omitted but to do that to Nehru is totally unexpected. Those who were included are– Hindu Mahasabha’s Veer Savarkar in the first row with other freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose, Vallabhbhai Patel, Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad. The government which will also take over the Teen Murti Bhavan which had been the abode of Nehru for 16 years, till his death, will be renamed as Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML). Exhibits of various prime ministers will be set up but shockingly, Nehru will not be included. This is not a simple omission but deliberate act of re-writing history. It matters not whether one likes Nehru or not but facts of history cannot be erased. India had its first prime minister and even though his mishandling led to India’s humiliating defeat at the hands of China in the 1962 war; facts cannot be ignored. If Nehru can be blamed for the defeat, surely, he has to be recognized as the prime minister when the war happened? In the old India, it was acknowledged that the foremost for a nation with multi-religious and multi-cultural diversity was peace and communal harmony. Indeed, working towards peace and communal harmony was needed as a reminder to heal the pain and horrors of partition of India. It is also a tribute to the millions of people from all religions, caste and cultures who participated in the Indian independent movement. Tribute is for those who sacrificed their lives while holding aloft the Tiranga. There are far too many people who played their roles in the Indian independence movement. And so, when there is need to include more into the roll of honour, it is unfortunate that petty politics has come into play.

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