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.”