And as another year of two of the most talked about countries begins, I started to wonder about the entire concept of “Independence Day” and how it exactly came about to be celebrated. For official reasons, Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of British India handed over political control of India to Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India and India, as a nation, was declared independent on 15th August, 1947. Pakistan, the new nation created from India, amidst bloody partition riots and violence, was declared independent a day earlier (later on dividing into Pakistan and Bangladesh in the 70s)
Although my friends and I have studied Indian history and know the story of the struggle that our freedom fighters faced in trying to gain independence from the British, I feel that we are disillusioned by the idea of freedom and somewhat rightly so. My grandmother, although a child during the freedom struggle, remembers the struggle faced by the adults around her and scoffs at the privileges that I enjoy today. But when I ask her if the roles were reversed, I would be saying the same thing. Circumstances are what make a person who they are. My grandmother doesn’t take things for granted because she knows how hard luxuries are to come by. I believe that while sometimes I do take things for granted, I’m not spoiled because my parents have taught me to value things that are important to me and yet not to get attached or dependent on anything. While my grandmother and I have been raised in different environments, we will obviously think differently.
And this is the problem with today’s youth – the difference in thought when it comes to Independence Day. Certain cardinal events of the day include flag hoisting, march past, wearing the national colours (of sorts), and many more. But to us, it means a dry day (much to the despair of some people), a day to sleep in and a day to remember that “Wait, we are actually a relatively new country and once upon a time were a colony of the greatest empire that ever existed”. Our hearts swell (temporarily) with pride when we sing the National Anthem. We begin to make resolutions to work towards the bettering of the nation after seeing what the Armed Forces sacrifices to make our country safer. And on 16th August, we all go back to our daily routines and only deign to criticize the nation and its leaders when something goes wrong, not bothering to lift a finger to do anything about it though.
Not that I have been a great influence on India’s happenings and decisions that I can claim to preach to people of this beautiful nation to stand up and not be afraid, but I too, as part of the upcoming youth of the largest democracy in this world, have become disillusioned and would rather spend my Independence Day morning, sleeping in than eagerly look forward to saluting the flag, singing the National Anthem or even spare a minute’s thought in thanking all those people who have helped our nation to get to the rising point it is at.
And therefore, on the eve of the 66th year of Independence, I have resolved to look an inch deeper into myself and ask myself – Why do I love India? Why do I love being an Indian?