Republic Day: What it means for Indian youth

New Delhi, Jan 25 (IANS) The 68th Republic Day is here. And for many youth in India, it is a day to take pride in the Constitution and the rights it confers and to feel patriotic as they watch the spectacle of the countrys military might and cultural prowess on Rajpath.

Many college students and young professionals IANS spoke to said they would mark the day with pride and remember the day when India’s Constitution came into force 69 years ago, even as politicians and a pervading new sense of “nationalism” have left them disappointed.

“It is surely a day every citizen should feel proud about. The day evokes patriotism. There is no doubt. But when we come to think of the kind of intolerance that has crept in, I fear if the idea of India that the authors of our Constitution believed in is the one we are building,” Prateek Kashyap, an English literature student at Delhi University, told IANS.

Kashyap, 19, said the country has “doubtlessly progressed” but is beset with many “diseases like corruption and intolerance”.

“We need to treat them if we have to realise the dream of India our forefathers had dreamed of.”

“I feel immensely proud of my country, and its achievements. January 26 is a day that reinforces this pride in me,” Sudha Nair, 22, who is interning with an MNC, told IANS.

Sadia, 18, a journalism student in Noida, said that “to feel patriotic about January 26 in the current political atmosphere is different than what it was previously as I hear from my grandparents”.

“Jingoism is the nationalism. Love for the country is restricted to certain religion and identities. Terms like anti-national are trending. Anyone critical of the government is branded as an anti-national.

“In this situation, I have begun to question the new concept of patriotism. Rather than just showing our might, it should be a day to introspect how truly a Republic we are.

“Have we been able to protect what (Bhimrao) Ambedkar had framed for us? We rather need to spread education and look at the real meaning of being a Republic nation,” she said.

Shubham Sood, from Himachal Pradesh, who studies pharmacy at a Delhi college, has, however, a different take, arguing the narrative of patriotism hasn’t changed “as much as it is made out to be”.

“We should remember the importance of this day and not take things for granted. This reminds us there was a lot of effort in formation of the nation. We should behave like responsible citizens,” he said.

Sood said that the “respect and love for an individual or the nation cannot be forced”.

“But if you are truly patriotic you won’t hesitate to stand when our National Anthem plays, and salute when the Tricolour is hoisted. It is when we express our gratitude for our nation and its peacekeepers on the borders.”

Udditi Khanna, a commerce student, said Republic Day was important to her “as I feel very patriotic about my country” when India’s military strength is displayed at a parade on the Rajpath.

“The parade makes me feel very proud of being an Indian. I get an assurance that I am a very safe and secure citizen of this nation. But I also want to tell the government that the citizens of this country also need better facilities, improved infrastructure and good food.”

But for some, it is only an occasion to enjoy a day off.

For Gaurav Malhotra, 21, it is a day to enjoy being with his family, watch TV and “maybe go for dinner in the evening”.

“When do you get a midweek off in today’s life?”

Malhotra also remembered that there would be a rush of patriotic movies like “Rang De Basanti”, “Legend of Bhagat Singh”, and “Lagaan” “to savour” on TV channels. “Perhaps, I will watch one also.”

(Ruwa Shah can be reached at ruwa.s@ians.in)

–IANS

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