75 Years of Independence: Nation First, Always

by- Utkersh Bora, Science Editor, J.A.N.D.R.I.

This year marks the 75 years of independence of India and is being celebrated throughout the country as “Azadi ka Amritotsav”. It was on this day, back in 1947, that India took its first baby steps to become one of the largest democracies in the world, overcoming a plethora of challenges to earn global recognition. India has come a long way since, leaving behind a string of landmarks that define its journey from the agony of Partition to a strong and powerful nation.

In its 75 years of independence, India has added countless achievements to its credit. It has built a modern economy (second fastest growing economy), remained a democracy, lifted millions out of poverty, has become a space and nuclear power and developed a robust foreign policy. Despite all that we have achieved in the past years, we seldom hear that the young generation has lost the love for the nation. Through this post, I’d like to address what the Indian nation truly stands for.

“India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters. I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage.”

When we say we love India, and someone asks us, “What exactly do you love?” What’ll your answer be? Beyond the area marked on a map, what does India mean to you? How do you communicate it to, let’s say, a Dutch national? How do you communicate it? It is quite possible that your answer is masala dosa. Maybe you have a few other things, like Bollywood, the bhangra, the cow—the cow sitting in the middle of the highway that is—the monkey riding the elephant, peeing by the roadside, no? You’d say, “Mahatma Gandhi!” or you’d probably talk of the colours of Holi, or you’d probably talk of the Diwali lights. These are all good, nice, vibrant images of the Indian landscape. Can you fall in love with these? I mean, it’s not so easy loving masala dosa, or is it?

A nation at its root represents a community of people united through certain values. For someone to really love our nation, it is important that we firstly know what those values are. Those values must be worth loving, and even more fundamentally, cannot be just theoretical, ideals on paper.

When we say that youngsters of today have lost love for the nation, what exactly have they lost love for? Do they know what the Indian nation stands for, and do they know what is worth loving?

A nation does not become admirable or respectable or lovable just by its geographical boundaries and political governance. There are nations that have been founded on hatred towards a group of people? They exist because of a certain dislike towards something. We have had nations in history that existed just to obliterate other nations, and we have had nations where the connecting thread is as fragile as a shared language, shared ethnicity, shared food habits. So, a nation is not necessarily lovable on its own. I’d like to quote some words from Swami Vivekanand’s speech here:

“Civilizations have arisen in other parts of the world. In ancient and modern times, wonderful ideas have been carried forward from one race to another…But mark you, my friends, it has been always with the blast of war trumpets and the march of embattled cohorts. Each idea had to be soaked in a deluge of blood….. Each word of power had to be followed by the groans of millions, by the wails of orphans, by the tears of widows. This, many other nations have taught; but India for thousands of years peacefully existed. Here activity prevailed when even Greece did not exist… Even earlier, when history has no record, and tradition dares not peer into the gloom of that intense past, even from until now, ideas after ideas have marched out from her, but every word has been spoken with a blessing behind it and peace before it. We, of all nations of the world, have never been a conquering race, and that blessing is on our head, and therefore we live….!”

– Swami Vivekanand (Indian Philosopher)

It is not our Geographic boundary, the LOC, and the ruling parties that make India a nation, it is the people who live here and the beliefs that we all share. Any attempt at defining our nationhood in terms of dogmas and identities of religion, region, hatred and intolerance will only lead to dilution of our national identity. There are several founding principles or common values that makes India, India. Some of these values include:

• Tyaga, which is renunciation

• Dana, which is liberal giving

• Nishtha, which is dedication

• Satya, which is truth

• Ahimsa, which is non-violence

• Sehensheelta, which is forbearance (the quality of being patient and sympathetic towards people, especially when they have done something wrong)

Respect is an extremely valued component of the everyday life of people in India. Children are taught from a very young age to always respect their elders. Even as adults, the elderly are still at the top of the totem pole. Children take care of their parents once they are adults, and their parents will most likely live with them until their lives have ended.

Family is also an extremely important component of Indian culture. Families are valued highly and are a part of an individual’s life until death. Often when people get married, they take in their older relatives and other relatives and provide support of them.

We as Indians seek harmony throughout life, and we all share these values in our everyday lives. These are the values that make us fall in love with our nation.

Today Western influence is rising on the Indian society by leaps and bounds and its intensity is rising with the passing of each year. The Indian values which is one of the oldest and richest culture is under threat as western culture is establishing its strong base in India and gradually wiping out the Indian culture. Slowly all our values for which India has its pride are vanishing. People are following the western culture without knowing its consequences.

The concept of joint families is abating. Western food is replacing the Indian food which has increased the rate of obesity in India. Children are affected by this westernization as they are not getting the care and love from their grandparents as they have moved to the old age homes.

There is no harm in taking good things and gaining knowledge about other cultures and traditions. No doubt western culture is versatile and has taught us to be self-dependent but this does not have to happen at the expense of centuries old values.

We should feel proud that we are Indian and have such a rich cultural heritage which is rare. Mahatma Gandhi once said,” The culture of a nation resides in the souls and the hearts of its people”. The Indian values do not require protection, but it requires practice. Each of us should commit ourselves to this cause and spread these values through practice. Do as much as you can, and do things wisely. Don’t get identified with it, don’t become its patriot. Share as much as you have experienced and understood. Existence will take care of everything.