67, and going strong!



We turn 67 today, and this is our 68th Independence Day.

I don’t know how many people outside India, or South Asia, know this but, our country was finally born as an independent nation on the rivers of blood. I do firmly believe that the partition of India in to (at that time) India and Pakistan was largely the result of the ambitions of two men. They believed that what they were doing was right, but to a large extent, the partition was driven by rivalling ambitions. Finally, when the two countries were born, millions of people came from what is now Pakistan into India. Millions went from India into Pakistan. Millions were killed. Blood was shed, and hate and bigotry ruled.

We are one people really, but now we are three countries. Our relations with Pakistan have been built on the bedrock and foundation of suspicion and hate. This is not good. This can never be good.

My father’s family came over at that time, leaving everything behind. I would call myself as part of the transition generation, the generation that did not witness, but grew up on the stories of the partition. My kids don’t have that same feeling. They look ahead.

Our flag, the design and the colours were chosen with care.

The saffron represents strength and courage. What is strength? What defines it?

The white represents peace and truth. It contains the Dharma Chakra, and is found on the on the abacus of the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka

The green represents fertility and growth.

Good values all.

When I was growing up, there was a strong North-South divide in India. Anyone in South India were called “Madrasi”. Things have changed, and since 1991, we have started to develop a stronger sense of nationhood.

We have problems galore, and it is for all of us to solve them. At one point, when I was living in Singapore, I was tempted to chuck my Indian passport and get a Singaporean one. It would have made my life easier in terms of international travel. My boss told me that a passport is just a piece of paper. But, something held me back. Some deep emotion for my country. Call it love, if you will. Being Indian defines me. My Indian passport, despite all the shit in my country, increased in value in my eyes and I realised that this is more than just a piece of paper. It is part of me, a part of my culture, a part of my history.

I think we need to build peace with our neighbours. We need to build peace within India. Hate cannot define our relationship with our neighbours.

We do need to do our bit to build India.

Enough said. I will just end with one more quote from Swami Vivekananda, who said it much better than I can ever do:

Out of the past is built the future. Look back, therefore, as far as you can, drink deep of the eternal fountains that are behind, and after that, look forward, march forward and make India brighter, greater, much higher than she ever was. Our ancestors were great. We must first recall that. We must learn the elements of our being, the blood that courses in our veins; we must have faith in that blood and what it did in the past; and out of that faith and consciousness of past greatness, we must build an India yet greater than what she has been.”



    1. Yes.. We hoist the flag all over the country. the Prime Minister addresses the Nation from the Red Fort in Delhi. That’s about it. The big celebration is on the 26th January. That is when we dissolved the 300 odd princely kingdoms and became a Republic. That parade is worth watching

  1. Well said Rajiv! well said! And as we celebrate nationhood and nationalism and remember all the sacrifices our forefathers made for this independence – there is something else our distant ancestors in their wisdom invoked – the concept that humanity itself was one and the universe our home. As entire regions burn I remember this Sanskrit shloka –
    Sarvetra sukhinah santuh
    Sarve santuh nirahmayah
    Sarve bhadrani paschyantu
    Ma kashchit dukham aapnuyat
    Om shanti shanti shanti…

    1. Thanks! I don’t understand the Sanskrit. I came from the generation who had Sanskrit shoved down their throats, without any regards to its beauty.

      1. I didn’t learn Sanskrit either – but these were hyms that my parents taught me as a child and explained their meanings me as well – and I never forgot them 🙂
        It means:
        May every being be happy,
        May every being be free from all diseases,
        May every being feel and appear blissful,
        May there not be trace of sorrow with any being.

  2. Very nice post. Hate and suspicion – whether for other countries or within our country itself – isn’t going to get us anywhere. We should value the progress we have made till now and keep moving forward. Happy independence day, Jai hind!

  3. This is a great post, Rajiv! I learn a great deal from your posts and enjoy understanding your connection and love for India. I look forward to a day when I can experience India with my own eyes and heart!

  4. Very interesting and educational, Rajiv. Having deep rooted love for one’s country but also being cognizant of the problems that are present. You appear to be more than aware of the issues, but the fact that you still have hope for India and its neighbors is very important. Cheers.

  5. I only know a little about the Partition but I’ve always thought that the UK has to shoulder some of the blame, for want of a better word, for the ensuing bloodshed because they wanted it to happen sooner rather than later. Perhaps I’m wrong. Your hope for and love of your country is an inspiration.

  6. It’s a sad story, that of the partition of your country. So much in the world makes no sense right now. We seem to find it so much easier to fight each other than to join hands. I wish that it were different but we can only hope and try to find a way.

  7. Beautiful, R. I am so ignorant. I knew nothing of India’s history. The meaning of the flag colors, profound and lovely. What IS strength, indeed? The brutal kind calls upon the invisible kind to make amends and help heal. I appreciate your take on the passport. Yes, it is more than a piece of paper, isn’t it? Because our motherland is more than a chunk of land in the ocean somewhere.

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