I can dream of becoming the first citizen of my country. I live in a nation where my fraternity decides who would govern us. I live in a motherland where each human has a guaranteed dignity to control over her own life; his own destiny. I live in a republic! I live in India i.e. Bharat!
January 26, 1950 was a beautiful day. After long wintery cloudy days, the nation was seeing the bright sunshine. Beautiful flowers could now blossom on their long closed buds. Wind was carrying the fragrance of liberty and its soil was loving its daughters and sons equally.
As our constitution opened its eyes, it had a bright vision before it. It was to weave a garland of justice. This garland would have the flowers of liberty, equality and fraternity. It would be unified with the thread of human dignity.
Above all, this garland was not meant to be weaved by a divine monarch, nor by an elite aristocracy. Rather, this beautiful garland was to be weaved by “we the people” and for “we the people”.
This principle restores the long crushed human dignity where one human has one value. This only reaffirms our spiritual heritage which sees ‘Parmatma’ in every ‘Jeevatma’.
It was nothing short of a revolution In a land long been governed by kings and queens. Yatha Raja Tatha Praja was the spirit of our polity. It was now going to be, ‘Yatha Praja Tatha Raja’.
But something was not right. It was like we had the whole bright moonlight but still had dark patches visible so apparently. The great visionary Dr. Babasaheb Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was watching these dark patches more clearly than anyone else.
Babasaheb warned the constituent assembly that without achieving social and economic democracy, political democracy would be in peril. Our socio-economic structures continue to deny one man one value. Whereas, with universal adult suffrage, one man had one value politically. This was indeed a life of contradictions, said Babasaheb.
Thus, what we had with the constitution is the mere seeds of justice and dignity sown over the soil which was laid barren in many ways for these ideals by the humiliating colonial rule; devoid of any rains of compassion, love and liberty.
The flowers we needed to weave our garland of justice were not given to us in alms or endowments. We needed to cultivate those flowers of liberty, equality, fraternity and dignity; in our own garden, with our own labour.
Since our garden i.e. our nation was very big, we decided to appoint a gardener for it i.e. the state and the government. State was supposed to be a mere agent of us. ‘We the people’ is the ultimate sovereign principle. We entrusted our sovereignty to our gardener to cultivate our cherished flowers.
But, once we appoint the gardener, we cannot turn our back to our loved garden. We cannot forget that our gardener is only perfect so long as we are watching it with our open eyes and contributing to it in our unique ways.
But as perhaps we didn’t keep our vigil tight; from the ultimate sovereign, we became the mere recipient of handouts of the state. And, our gardener became a benevolent paternalistic welfare state.
Not only this. Now our gardener has a younger but powerful brother. It is the free capitalist market. Both feed on each other. Both has as symbiotic relationship as of the honeybee and the flower. But when we try to taste the honey made from the nectar of our garden; what we get is the stings from the honeybees. Though, our gardener shares some honey with us only to let it continue to make the honey.
It reminds me of what Gurudev Rabindranath Thakur had to say about the nation. He had said that in the modern conception of nation, the life of a human is very much constrained. It is like wearing a tight shoe with a piece of gravel in it and then walking in it. How painful it is to walk even a little.
So, this republic day, we the people need to take a resolve to reclaim our garden. As our constitution requires, we need to fulfil our fundamental duties.
We need to realise that our job does not ends with merely exercising our vote in ballot box. It just begins with it. We cannot outsource our liberties. As Babasaheb warned that if we want to protect our democracy, we cannot lay our liberty to the feet of even a great man or to trust him with power which enables him to subvert our institutions.
We cannot outsource the vision to weave our garland merely to the gardener. We the people need to weave it together. We need to assist the gardener with right ingredients and growth conditions and hold it to account.
We need to be mindful if our gardeners are growing weeds of divisiveness or hatred with the toxic chemicals of black and blood money.
But it cannot be the gardener’s fault alone. We the people need introspection and soul searching. Why we provided the fertile ground and conducive growth climate to the seeds of casteism, communalism and mysogynism?
We need to make sure that our garden has a soil which is barren for the seeds of casteism, communalism and divisiveness. Our soil will only be fertile for common peace, prosperity, love and brotherhood.
This would happen only and only when ‘We the people’ will become ‘WE’ in real sense. So long as each one of us think of only ‘I’ or ‘Mine’, how can we think of ‘We’ and our common garden?
This would only mean to fulfil our cherished constitutional duties which calls us to rise above our narrow sectional interests, build composite culture and cultivate scientific temper to pursue excellence in each sphere of life.
For this, each one of us, need to bridge the divisiveness in our hearts. So long as I am envious of my neighbour, how can I build a republic? So long as I look down upon a fellow human, how can I build a republic?
Divided hearts cannot build a united republic. As Bhagvadgeeta says that the battlefield lies within us. This would become the ‘Dharam-kshetra’ or ‘Kuru-kshetra’, we have to decide.
This is possible for the daughters and sons of the mother India. We are a community having timeless civilisational ethos to see oneself as a part of a bigger identity.
Our republic is like a big ocean of humanity. Each life comes out in its distinct shape because of the bodies we carry. Once the bodies fall, our energy and consciousness merges into that one whole ocean of humanity. Where is then the scope of discrimination and egoism?
Once we realise that either we have a common destiny as a humanity or we have none, our character would reflect republicanism and democratic spirit to its core.
As Babasaheb said, democracy is about the society and not about a form of government. We adopted democratic republic to bring socio-economic revolution in a peaceful way, without bloodshed. That is the republic for us.
I also recall the great advice of the Martin Luther King Jr. He advised that if you can fly; fly! If you can’t fly; run! If you can’t run; walk. If you can’t walk; crawl! But by all means keep going.
Similar is the journey of our republic. Each one of us hereby resolve that we will keep walking our walk in pursuit of excellence so that our nation and humanity reaches constant higher nobles.
We will cultivate our garden as patiently and diligently as the honeybee collects the nectar of the flower. We will ensure that the sweetness of the honey we make permeates in the lives of each one of us.
We will dream together. We will walk together. With hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, we will walk to march ahead to our destiny of eternal happiness.
But, we won’t hesitate even if we will have to walk alone at times in pursuit of truth. As my nation has taught me: Satyamev Jayate i.e. Truth alone triumphs.
In that pursuit, we will be guided by the invincible light of the lovely song written by Gurudev: Jodi Tor Dak Shune Keu Na Ashe Tobe Ekla Cholo Re!
My Love to you; My Friend!
Happy Republic Day!