OPINIONS

Saffron, Green and Everything in Between?

After following for days, these recent protests around the national capital, every Indian heart had grown weary. It is not just this agitation, over the northern frontiers, the external threat India faces to her sovereignty, her way of life – looms large. At a time like this, incidents such as those that conspired yesterday, do well to make our hearts wearier still.
In a country as vast, diverse and vibrant as ours, few things hold the capacity to bring us together. One that is the most easily available, is our nationality. The fact that when we say “I’m Indian,” we automatically say that we belong to the country that holds truth, equality, liberty, justice and fraternity as its foundation. We come from a country that is proud of its security forces, stands with them in solidarity, as did they when it came to our Corona warriors. A democracy that despite its magnificent size, functions like clockwork – Pandemic or not. That is India, the Bharat of everyone’s dream.

The President, Shri Ram Nath Kovind reiterated in his national address a motto we all know to be true. The New Indian ideal – based on knowledge and wisdom that we hold dear since centuries -nay millennia! Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyan – is that not the true Indian definition? But are we headed down that path? On one end as the new Rafale curved upwards faster than the speed of sound, the flag post at the Red Fort curved downwards with the weight of disregard.

Any journalist who has ever ventured out on a political beat must have used the words “from the ramparts of the Red Fort…”
What was it that was proclaimed just five months ago? ‘Seva Parmo Dharma’. What was it that our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said? ‘It is essential for every Indian to become Self-reliant, only then will India as whole, realise this dream.’
But, did everyone listen? It seems not. Even as an unbelievably tolerant government drew on all its reserves of restraint, the so-called protesters argued for a repeal. The very laws that would bring-in complete independence to agriculture is ‘not required’ they said.

Today, the country’s highest currency denomination, the INR 2000 note, has an image of the Mangalyaan, or the Indian MOM, Mars Orbiter Mission. The note and the image are both testaments to progress, out-of-the-box thinking and most importantly, success.

Over six years ago, while congratulating the scientists at ISRO when “Mars met MOM,” PM Modi had read a few lines from his poem. Translated loosely it meant failure invites criticism but, success invites jealously. Is it this same jealously which is motivating a storming of the Red Fort? One of the bastions of Indian Democracy? It certainly must be. These reforms have shown positive results so far, even with minimal implementation, one thing which they most definitely have not shown – is failure.

Visuals of the tractor rally showed the Indian national flag flying lower than those of the farmer unions. That was quite surprising and frankly, a little disheartening. The violent clashes and a destructive sentiment was worrisome. However, what was truly saddening was the hoisting of religious flags at the Red Fort and the ease with which those climbing atop the mast rejected the Tricolour. All this just two days after we celebrated Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, all this when we celebrated our Republic, all this when we once again showed the world our ‘Can do’ spirit with vaccines.

We saw as security personnel were cornered, harassed and even injured. We saw reports of young artists that hid from an advancing and frenzied mob. Many would argue that seeing is not believing. But we have been watching the rounds of talks fail, we have been part of debates in our homes, during our break times, on social media. It’s time now to believe. The Indian Tricolour, the Ashok Chakra in its centre, represents courage, truth, peace, growth and Dharma or duty. None of these values seemingly held any priority amongst the protesters in New Delhi; possibly why the Indian Flag did not command their respect.

As citizens of a nation, we are a part of its policy decisions, even when they do not impact us directly. What we feel, say and believe inturn plays a pivotal role in directing our sentiments and creating a narrative. A sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic Republic provides for the choice to believe, and hold opinions – even grudges. Infact, it empowers us to do so, but the same Republic also demands some basic protocols and duties. Unflinching loyalty and unshakable faith may be a little too much to ask of an overly woke citizenry, but respect is a bare minimum requirement.

When the leaders of an agitation fall prey to external confusion and interference, little remains of the original ‘cause’. We saw it happen with the abrogation of Article 370, then again at Shaheen Bagh and this process of hijack seems to have reared its head amongst those agitating against the new Farm laws. It is becoming increasingly hard to form a connection between the protest and the laws now. What happened at the Red Fort can in no way be linked to a lack of confidence in a government policy. That is hallowed ground, those ramparts have been witness to history, the birth of our nation, what happened there is therefore, not just condemnable, but also, unbecoming.

 

We are a proud people, but that has always been due to what we have achieved in our lifetimes and the many adverse circumstances we have had to face. An Indian victory in Gabbatoir is not why Md Siraj was emotional during the national anthem – it was because he was part of the team that had the capability to do so; despite our more than humble beginnings. An emotional scientist and his Prime Minister shared the burden of an unsuccessful mission not because they failed, but because they gave it their all. Our Independence, our constitution, our vaccines, our government, our victories – we as Indians give this to ourselves. Let us not give them up so easily…lest we forget the decades, centuries and countless lives that were spent in an effort to get us here. For the world’s youngest country, the need to set the right examples is paramount. Not just for us but also, for future generations.

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