If you ask me to name the most awaited recurring event from my childhood memories I would say “Republic Day parade on TV”. Though I used to miss the major part of the visual treat due to extended hours of sleep, thanks to the holiday, it continued to be one of the factors which prompted me to wait for the next year. The rhythmic movements, big missiles, guns, fighter planes and the whole air of formalities were sufficient for goosebumps. Under the tricolour we listened to speeches, some times exhortations. But nobody told us, the children, what exactly is a REPUBLIC. All they said, and learnt by us, was that it was on this day in 1950 India adopted her Constitution. Again there wasn’t anyone to tell us ‘what this thing called Constitution is’ and why it is so important.
Years passed without my consent. Neither do I wait for the parade to start nor get goosebumps these days. But the problem remains intact. No one bothers to think about these issues. Afterall you don’t get time to think about what exactly is this constitution. Your eyes, your ears, your thoughts, your emotions – all these have been hijacked by a nonsensical media. To be honest, the easiest way to strip off your intelligence and common-sense from you is to use the time tested and proven idea of nationalism. Nationalism (the negative conception of the term, to be precise) has always used the military as its front and weapon. The myth of a nation had been used by the fascists during the mid 20th century. Military power and might thus became a symbol of national pride. It was by projecting this power and might the fascist nationalists earned the consent of the people who they governed with a totalitarian administration. Gramsci called it the ‘hegemony’.
If nationalism was used, misused and abused to gather consent and legitimacy to a totalitarian government during those days, the present story is a little bit different. We are being told that nation means power and power by all means equates to military power. More than the State, it is the media which creates this false consciousness. What is the rationale behind playing military-movies on this day when the only relevance for military is that they take part in a march past in front of their supreme commander, who has been elected in a Republican way? Putting it straight, military has very little significance on this anniversary day contrary to the conceptions which the media is trying to instil in the public-psyche of this country. Malayalam channels competed to telecast ‘Kurukshethram’, a film by Major Ravi about the commandos operating in Kashmir. A channel went further ahead and aired an interview with Major Ravi on the Republic Day 2012. All these are under the misconception that Republic Day has something to do with military and military only. This kind of pseudo-nationalism which is carefully articulated and nurtured plays an important role in transforming the otherwise pragmatic and wise Indian to a warmonger immediately after a terrorist attack or something of that sort. We know the politics of warmongering. It is not my point to elaborate but I should remind you how Pokhran-II and Kargil were used successfully in elections.
If not military and its capabilities, what merits attention on this occasion? The Constitution – what else? The largest of written constitutions in the world, The Constitution of India is a living document which stands tall as the document of our aspirations,symbol of our success as a democracy and, most importantly, a reminder of our failures as it contains many ideals which we failed miserably to achieve. The preamble is sufficient to get this mixed feeling of aspiration, success and failure. This is precisely what the children should be told about. The preamble talks about Justice even before Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Why is it so? Within Justice it is Social Justice which the constitution guarantees ahead of political or economic justice. Is it just a random placement or a well thought about one? What is meant by dignity of the individual? Why is it so important? Why is “dignity of the individual” neglected in the exhortations about the “unity and integrity of the nation” even though both concepts are from the same line? Republic Day must be used to provoke the children (and adults too) with such questions.
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation; IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
It is when we think from this perspective we get a clear picture of the dangerous game of boasting military power as the sole symbol of national power and aspiration. None of the above mentioned category of media would be in favour of the ideals like “social justice” or “economic justice” and “dignity of the individual”. It is a systematic way of converting citizens to hardcore fundamentalist-nationalists and there by creating an environment of consent and legitimacy to more dangerous political agendas.