India celebrated her 60th Republic Day today.
I was happy.
Not because I live in a sovereign, socialist, democratic, republic; but because it was a holiday and I got to sit at home.
I was watching TV. All channels across all languages, were bombarded with patriotic movies - be it in English, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu or more...
My patriotism was confined to having goosebumps as the hero (an army man of course) delivered dialogues filled with 'Indianess' and 'Jai Hind' in it. I clapped and cried, as heroes won (read Indians) and villains died (read Pakistanis). It again ignited my 'once in a while' desire to get married to an army man, who would fight bravely and die for the country.
As the day came to an end. I wondered who in real celebrated the republic day. To me it meant watching the parade in the morning in TV. Some food and time to make up for lost sleep.
I never understood the terms anyways!
What is sovereignty? Monarchy still exists, with the ruling power controlled by 'families' and 'friends'! Citizens are still the second rung.
What is socialism? India has around 1 lakh millionaires, yet 45% of Indians are still "Extremely poor".
What is democracy? An elected representative splurges Rs. 30 lakh to refurbish his bathroom. Who is to blame, if we rank 84th, among the most corrupt 180 countries in the world.
What is secularism? Even the most educated and sophisticated beings, look down at Muslims who form 15% of the Indian population, just because we share borders with Pakistan, a Muslim country. Agreed, the hundreds of Kasabs who infiltrate into the Indian territory are Muslims, by birth. But out of the 257 they killed during Mumbai attacks in November 2008, almost 50 were Muslims, who were Indians first.
The national anthem is being played in some channel. I stood up, like an obedient citizen in front of the TV, and saluted in respect.
Then, I went to sleep.
That was the simple ordinary citizen in me.
- who never cast vote at the polling booth during elections...
- who never raised a finger when demanded to pay a few extra thousands so that the new gas connection comes in faster...
- who justified taking bribes due to surging prices and inflation...
- who was alright with bus strikes and bandhs as it gave a day off to stay a home...
- who took for granted, the lives of hundreds of armed forces - army / navy / air force, who fought day and night guarding the Indian border
- who had taken a back stand for everything and looked for "Whats in it for me?"
This ordinary citizen was - a Hindu, a Christian, a Muslim, a Sikh, a Jain.
But definitely not an Indian.