January 26th is a much awaited day for all Indians. For the old, it is a pleasant reminder of establishment of the Indian Constitution. For the children it means singing patriotic songs and wearing regional costumes in schools. For news media it is a time to debate over the country’s achievements and failures. For other entertainment channels it is the day to brush off dust from the freedom fight based movies. For the ignorant it just means a holiday. But for most citizens, like me, it is the day you get to see a majestic parade on Rajpath.
As a child, while attending flag hoisting at school, I remember keeping an eye on the watch. I rushed home not wanting to miss a single moment of the spectacle in the national capital. I always held a secret dream of being part of the parade myself. The dream was never fulfilled, but Republic Day still fills me with the same sense of admiration. I still sit glued to the television till the last balloon is in the air. The event is impeccable in every aspect – be it the smart soldiers marching like bound blocks, the beauty of the neatly crafted tableaus, colourful dance displays by school children or the breathtaking air show. At the same time it leaves you deeply humbled as gallantry medals are awarded.
I often wondered how the event, in spite of its monotonous format, still seems so attractive every year. Now I realise that it is not the beauty of the parade that attracts you. What holds you is a feeling of pride and comfort. Pride to be part of a nation, which in spite of its military might, respects the independence of other countries. Comfort that our country is capable of defending its own independence if forced to do so.
Now as the country stands on a verge of taking tough decisions to fight terrorism, Republic Day carried with it a whole new meaning. It was a demonstration to the whole world that India’s insistence on a peace process is not its weakness, but its strength and that talks are indeed the hard option. As I watched the parade again last week, with the same enthusiasm, I realised, that despite all the ills that surround us, the foundation of this great nation still stands strong. And if we citizens look up to the Constitution with the same respect as a Bhagwatgita or a Bible, this foundation will only get stronger.