The day has come to an end. Another day in another month in another year to most people all over the globe. But it’s not! This very day 63 years ago, India got Independence from the British Rule after years of struggle. It is a special day. It should be a special day. A day when you remember all the sacrifices made by so many great men and women, thanks to who, you and I live the kind of life we do today.
My guess would be most of urban Indians living in the India ‘metros’ take 15th Aug as another public holiday (and this year they would whinge how it falls on a Sunday and hence they ‘lost’ a holiday). And most people living outside India, well it’s just another day...if it’s a weekday, you get dressed, drop kids to school, go to work, come back home, sleep, the usual humdrum. And if it falls on a weekend like it did today, well then there is no need to get early out of bed is it?
But that’s not true right?
We get up early on weekends for various different reasons:
- Morning run
- Morning sex
- Brunch with eggs Benedict and Mimosas
- Or simply because kids don’t let us sleep in
- Etc, etc
So why could you not have got up today and gone to the Indian Embassy in Singapore for flag hoisting?
It started at 9.00 am and lasted less than 10 mins. The flag is hoisted and you sing the National Anthem. If you don’t the words, you just stand still, and sink that amazing patriotic feel in the air. After which you need to stay only if your kids were performing on stage, or if you simply feel like it.
10 minutes. That’s all. And in Singapore travel time cannot exceed more than 20 mins in cab at that time.
So what was your excuse?
- Not worth getting out of bed for?
- Or worse of all- it’s just not something professional expat Indians do?
In all the years I have lived here, I cannot help but notice that the majority of the audience are young students and people in the diplomatic circles. From all my expat Indian friends, only a handful (think I need only one of my hands to count) attend the flag hoisting.
Why is that so? I simply cannot fathom!
1) Are you ashamed of your country? Then f&**ing give up your nationality! The Indian passport does not come with very many privileges in the first place. Give it up. Don’t bother being an Indian any more.
2) Or are you ashamed of yourself? How can an educated, rich, professional, expat be seen with the riff-raff of students, workers and government babus? What would it do to your reputation amongst your colleagues and friends? Won’t they laugh at you? Poke fun? (I know! It happens to me all the time. But it never fazes me)
3) Or you simply don’t care? The thought just does not cross your mind perhaps? But yet, you never forget to watch the latest SRK blockbuster do you? Or trying out the latest Indian restaurant in Singapore? Then why can’t you remember this day?
4) Or is it just that you don’t think it’s important enough? You feel you love your country and are proud of it, so why do you need to attend a flag hoisting of Independence Day? I think many of you would probably fall in this category. (Though I personally know many people who fall in the category 1 and 2 as well). I would like just to remind you that expression of an emotion is almost as important as an emotion itself. Doesn’t your spouse get angry with you when you don’t tell her enough that you love her? You know and she knows that you do. But she needs and desires that expression. Don’t you express your admiration for children’s smallest successes? Don’t you call long distance to wish your parents on their birthdays and anniversaries? Don’t you leave funny and caring posts on friends Facebook profiles?
Then why can’t you express your love and gratitude to your Motherland? Is attending flag hoisting the only way to do it? Of course not! But is it a symbolic expression of patriotism? Yes it sure is!
And it will do wonders for your own soul. To be with your fellow countrymen, singing (or humming) Jan-gan-man, seeing the tiranga flying and knowing however far you may be, you always have home to return to- there is not a calmer feeling in the world.
And after those 10 minutes are over, go lead your regular life. (I went for a breakfast at Jones, read Life! and then headed home)
But the feeling of pride in my heart of where India has reached today, makes my heart bigger, my smile wider and my courage stronger. Coz if we survived the colonial rule and started with next to nothing just a generation ago, we can pretty much do anything.
Today India is the largest democracy which has elected a women and a minority Prime Minister (USA has never had a woman President till now, and elected its first minority President only last year). It is slated to be the 3rd largest economy in next 40 years (after USA and China). Is home to the great invention of our times- the cheapest car in the world, Tata Nano. And has given the world visionaries like Narayan Murthy, creative geniuses like Tagore and legends like Gandhi (amongst the trivial though commercially viable Ms. Universes and Ms. Worlds).
As Indians we not only survive the odds, we excel.
So let’s please just give due to the country that makes it all possible.