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To My Patriotic Brethren – “Is This What A Republic Stands For?”

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By Ezra Rynjah:

To my patriotic brethren,

Two decades ago, Republic Day seemed like such a strange and distant holiday for me in terms of its meaning and significance. Yes, I remember spending the morning in front of a television at my aunt’s, watching phallic objects that could explode being paraded around and followed by swathes of coordinated dancers in over-starched uniforms who only knew one robotic move. I also recall threats against public celebration from local Nationalists who despised such display but dreamed of a chance to exhibit their own phallic objects.

Agni IV missile is on display during the

However, growing up, it was always more about bicycles and games and the drawing to a close of the school winter break (only a month remains!). I never considered it as patriotically as my family apparently did – rejoicing the fact that on the 26th of January, 1950, India as a nation adopted the Constitution – but of course I had more pressing concerns at the time.

Fast forward to today and I honestly can’t say that my perspective of this day of celebration has changed. Imagine this: you’re walking home from a long day at work and all you want is to get back to a nice hot meal waiting for you at home. What do you get instead? A bullet in the back of your head is what your patriotic self will get, that’s what. Shift to another scene where you’ve just enjoyed some fresh fruit picked from the forest next to your home and are washing your hands in a gurgling stream nearby. You hear the alarm call of some birds and wonder what the fuss is about when you see a man in a suit accompanied by some goons drawing near with the usual plans to buy your plot of land so he can start a mine.

I must ask if celebrating Republic day would mean anything to you if you were in either situation. AFSPA in Kashmir and Manipur where innocent people are being murdered in fake encounters, paramilitary forces being deployed in Central India to acquire mineral-rich land– a State that imposes martial law on its own people! Is this what a republic stands for?

I probably seem like a ranting jholawalla at this point to all whose eyes are constantly glued to any manner of electronic rectangle through which scenes of violence keep assaulting the senses. But of course there is a reward for becoming so desensitised: Barack Hussain Obama is coming to visit us for the parade! He seems to have conveniently forgotten that he had denied Narendra Modi a visa for the longest time because of the Premier’s alleged responsibility for the Gujurat riots of 2002. Obama must have noticed that India condoned this violence by electing him to the highest post in the country and if the largest “democracy” in the world does something, who’s to argue? I don’t see why Obama was so uptight about it in the first place though. Granted that he won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2009 but is also responsible for the drone strikes that are killing innocent civilians in the Middle East, and the continuing occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. “War is Peace” as any gun-slinging Rambo-impersonator or, now affectionately known as ‘Leader of a Nation’ would say.

The sad, undeniable truth in all of this is that we have forgotten what a republic stands for. If it is to mean that we are governed in public interest, does the public exclude people under AFSPA? Does it exclude the indigenous who are struggling for survival in Central India? Or does it mean a majoritarian form of governance where the flag of democracy is unfurled only to overshadow the marginalized in our imagination?

With love and concern,
A troubled “Citizen”.

You must be to comment.
  1. Kundan

    This article is once again an example of just high rhetoric and nothing else. You talk about AFSPA in J&K and Manipur. You forget the very reason for imposing AFSPA. While I will not get into the history. I have a few questions. Let’s say we revoke AFSPA, what after that? How do we tackle the problem of a separatist movement or the problem of infiltrators entering our borders with the sole purpose of murdering 1000s of fellow countrymen. Same thing about naxalism, you would want a high standard of living, 24×7 electricity but you dont want coal to be mined. Yes the problem is when the villagers are exploited, not compensated for their losses for the profit of few.
    You talk about the meaning of Republic, it is this Republic that is giving you a chance to voice dissent on national media. So at least for this reason you may want to celebrate the Republic.

    1. Roy

      Dear Kundan,

      High rhetoric? Are you sure you are not just over-reacting? You say you will not get into the history which is quite a sweeping start, as you choose to ignore context. The questions you pose seem to suggest that AFSPA is the most effective and only way to tackle issues in these regions and there is no alternative, which I think is highly debatable.

      Moving on to your point on naxalism, its quite interesting how you become a spokesperson for what others ‘want’ (another sweeping generalization) and then you make it seem like such a trivial issue, almost an afterthought – ‘Yes the problem is when the villagers are exploited, not compensated for their losses for the profit of few.’

      Last of all, your notions of a republic. You seem to suggest that we should be grateful that we have the ability to write freely in forums like this. As opposed to what? A theocratic/autocratic state that completely suppresses all contrary opinion?

      Not everyone wants to settle, be grateful and celebrate. No one is stopping you from celebrating anything. Similarly, it seems only fair that you allow others to constructively critique the notion of the republic.

  2. sumesh

    Yes , India bad , America very bad , hate both of them , and anything remotely phallic.
    Why do we celebrate the anniversary of India becoming a republic , we should hate everything…that’s the point of this article…and to justify these points I will put in some truths about exploitation of the poor. That is the best way to promote a lie , mix it with some truths. I mean seriously , it seems you hate the missiles and the dancers more than the rioters in Gujarat

    1. Roy

      Dear Sumesh,

      You seem to observe something that’s not there in the article. I doubt the author is trying to spread any such ‘hate’ that you talk of.

      Maybe you confuse a ‘critique’ with ‘hate’. If somebody is questioning the republic or posing an alternative opinion about what a republic means or stands for, it doesn’t mean he/she ‘hates’ anything.

  3. Veer

    Seem u r suffering from withdrawal symptoms post de-addiction to drugs ? So sadistic. On a Republic day, you centered your whole article an AFSPA thing. Nothing better can be expected from YKA either. u arnt a mouthpiece for youth, u r a mouth piece for anti national forces.
    Me, my family, my friends, their friends, their family, since childhood have participated in Republic day functions in our school days. We had done Drills, Parede, Dances , been a part of it and always had waited eagerly for this R-Day. And we displayed this love not because we had a perfect honey moon with Indian state. We had our share of conflicts, problems, grievances with the government but we always knew that it happens in every family.

    But there is no point explaining you. You and your ilk can never understand the passion, so i dont even remotely expect u to understand.
    you are like that disgruntled cousin who pops up with his banner of a revolt on the venue of a wedding because some family person did something bad to him somewhere in past.
    Go on, Please go on, with your cribs, complaints and rant.
    I shall we go go with my love.

    1. Roy

      Dear Veer,

      Drugs? Sadism? You seem very imaginative and agitated my friend. ‘Mouthpiece for anti-national forces.’ Come on now, that one has been overused too much, beyond any meaning. Very useful, making everything into a binary and labelling people either this or that.

      Its completely fine that you and your family found meaning in this day and were part of celebrating it through the years. By all means, you may continue to do so, neither this article nor anyone here is asking you to stop.

      Passion and all the strong words after? No need to get so defensive and react so strongly about your patriotic feelings. Please go on with your love, no one is stopping you!

      You could do someone the courtesy of allowing him/her to express what the republic means/stands for from whatever context they come from without over-reacting.

  4. allenage

    Makes us proud

  5. Saravana Kumar

    This is life, it should go on.. and I would like to add something that the foundation of our country during and after Independence was not at all future oriented. The so called leaders failed to think about people at large.

  6. Ashok Singh

    Hi,

    Please be careful when writing in public, with freedom of expression comes great responsibility .
    Republic day is one of the most important day that happened to free India. if all of us decide not to celebrate our Birthdays I would agree not to celebrate Republic day.

    Now coming to point of because there is AFSPA we should not celebrate Republic day. So we should also say because their was terrorist attack we should not do celebrate Diwali . The point being if there is something wrong we need to raise voice to correct this but not stop doing the good things.

    Regards
    Ashok

    1. Roy

      Dear Ashok,

      Please be more considered in your responses. Nobody is asking you to stop celebrating anything, this article least of all. Choosing to celebrate a birthday or a republic day, these are all personal choices.

      Your analogy on Diwali again is reactionary and unnecessary. Once again, nobody is asking you to stop doing the ‘good’ things.

  7. Voice of reason

    Thank god the people are reposing their faith in the system and the celebration of republic day, if people like the author had their way, god knows what would happen.
    Such people want everything, but cant make sacrifices, they want high standard of living, but are not willing to give a single piece of land to anyone ( fair compensation or not), they can boldly talk about AFSPA, but not how Hindu pandits were massacred in J&K, they can only point at problems like immature teenagers but never provide sustainable solutions….

    Too bad it is this republic that guarantees them the freedom to express themselves in YKA, but they fail to celebrate the same, my condolences and sympathies with you and your brotherhood, but rest assured, sympathies is all you will get, because we will continue to roll-on with this machine that we call India, in the way it is and the way the majority deems fits. Keep cribbing, again my condolences with you

    proud to be an Indian

    1. Roy

      Dear Voice of Reason,

      I have been observing your comments throughout different articles (especially by this author). It is quite clear you are not interested in dialogue, as it became evident when the author did try to engage you in one on development.

      You have certain views on development, nationalism and identity which are very rigid and you seem to be intent on imposing your views upon others. There is no room for any questioning, any critical though with respect to any of these issues in your vocabulary.

      If this is indeed your mandate, then why continue reading YKA and trolling the comments section? By all means go to every rooftop you can find, scream ‘Shining India’ and ‘Swachh Bharat Abhihyan’ and whichever slogans you wish, waving the flag along the way. No one is putting any restraint on you, or preventing you from expressing any of your views.

      Coming to the specifics.

      Bringing up the issue of AFSPA in a specific context of the republic does not mean the author condones other forms of violence against any community like what happened with the Hindu Pandits in J&K. If you would have carefully observed that attention to ‘Phallic’ objects you may have grasped that the author abhors displays of weapons with such a potential to destroy other human beings, from any community. But no, you are intent on pushing a pre-set agenda and constructing questionable links between things just to instigate reaction.

      The point about immature teenagers and sustainable solutions. Firstly, most people do not understand this, but critique is valuable in itself. Authors, artists, politicians, sportsmen, any human being, genuinely interested in bettering what they do and who they are, benefit from the critical comments they receive.

      In your version of reality, it is all about celebrating things and not voicing any critical opinion. So we should celebrate development, the republic, everything else. Anyone with any alternative opinion should be drowned out because they are anti-this or anti-that. I think you are in fact in need of some display of maturity to be frank.

      The focus on solutions. Where does the value of your perspective lie, if any? Just by railing against any alternative expression, what exactly are you contributing as a ‘solution’? Just by becoming a staunch defendant of your rather myopic view on nationalism, development and identity you have contributed a great service to society?

      Again you make questionable statements. Freedom of expression. The author uses this through the YKA forum to voice his/her opinion of the republic. This in your view, automatically suggests the author does not want to celebrate the republic.

      So once again in your version of events, only when everyone agrees, and maintains status quo without voicing any criticism constructively, only then they value and celebrate something like the republic, otherwise they are deserving of all your sympathies, knee-jerk reactions, myopic stances, condolences and other patronizing comments.

      The author through articles like this is clearly against any form of ideology or fundamentalism. People like you deceptively take on a cape of a mass national identity and false consciousness while preaching whatever you feel very righteous about.

      I think you are very dogmatic in your approach and quite doctrinaire in your perspective. You are prescriptive in your views, and there is no room for plurality of opinion and perspective in the space you construct. No room for any constructive dialogue. Which makes you essentially, a YKA troll. And definitely, not a ‘voice of reason’ which is definitely a misnomer by quite a stretch.

      Regards,

      Roy

    2. Voice of reason

      Mr Roy, you have your freedom of expression just as i do, and hence my comments. If you do not like what ever i say, too bad for you, i honestly could not care less.

      As for the various points that i have raised, i know that critique itself helps in forming opinions but I strongly believe that you should not criticize any idea if you do not have a better one , period. You do not have any idea on development, the road map, the processes, but only can voice you opinion against the government, then in my opinion you are a waste of time and a hazard to the nation. First bring better solutions then challenge the status quo….

      As for this current article, i have read your comments and honestly you are another buffoon like the author himself, questioning the display of military might and prowess that India has and also its celebrations s because we have AFSPA or Naxals is ridiculous.

      I see you have taken a special attention in my comments, well atleast some one is stirred, i have a strong feeling, you are either the author himself or know him ( deny as much as you want too). Any ways i may be a YKA troll , i do not see you posting any meaning ful comments either, hence you are also a troll right………… Mr fictitious Roy

    3. Voice of reason

      People like you Roy are responsible for preaching anti national feelings and sentiments, you are the reason because of which this great nation of ours will never be united……..

      you should be proud of yourself ( and please we all can get that you are the author himself, so please stop using false names )

  8. Roy

    Dear Voice of (un)Reason,

    Once again you construct binary dualities – opinions may not always be ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than whatever it is that is being examined. They may simply be ‘different’. In your world though, things are very black and white. Who exactly are you to morally prescribe what is ‘better’?

    Now, coming to the plethora of assumptions that you continue to make. How do you know whether I have any idea about development (or not)? I could be studying it, I could be a policy-maker, I could be anyone. But you on the other hand, are a self-proclaimed specialist on ‘the road map’, the ‘processes’ and the ‘machine that we call India’ whatever that means. You have placed yourself and your views on an immortal pedestal, starting from a point where apparently, no one has the right to challenge you.

    You seem to go on and on about ‘better solutions’ failing to understand that something can be examined, reflected upon and then commented upon, all part of a process of critiquing. Everything is not geared towards ‘solutions’ and ‘non solutions’, another severe weakness of your reductionist perspective.

    The last time I checked we were in a democracy. If tomorrow, however unrealistic it sounds, there are people that come out in support of NOT having a standing army, a massive disarmament and so on, then ideally their voices must be taken into account. So you do not get to self-righteously preach on our ‘military prowess’ as if anyone who evaluates such a position is a ‘hazard to the nation’ and other empty propaganda slogans.

    As far as I understand our constitution and what our republic stands for, I think that as citizens of this country, we are allowed to constantly debate and ponder over all the issues that we have been doing so far. ‘Nationhood’ is a construct – it is not something that is set in stone. A narrow sense of patriotism has very valid and justified purpose in a colonial context such as when India was fighting for its freedom.

    In the current context though ‘nation’ has a myriad of blurry connotations, depending on how one approaches it. You would be well advised to read Guha on this. The different forms of identity we inhibit are fluid and constantly evolving. Something as complex as the mix of all communities that this land is constituted of, is definitely dynamic and shifting in terms of what it considers ‘national identity.’

    If this fluid concept of identity makes you uncomfortable, as I have pointed out to other readers, nobody is stopping you from holding on to your version of how you choose to see things and celebrating it, but railing against anyone who speaks any other form than the one you have prescribed reeks of insecurity and defensiveness.

    It is human nature to crave certainty amidst a very uncertain, chaotic world. Your desperation for certainty comes out in this staunch support of a national identity in one specific avatar. There is nothing wrong with adhering to such a belief, but what I have taken issue with, is your relentless attack on other folk for whom, national identity means different things.

    It amuses me that you take such a keen interest in my identity – this once again suggests that you are not particularly interested in what is being said, nor do you have a sound argument; I am not interested in who you are, my concern is to do with the way you try to stifle others voice’s and try to force your ideas as if they are the only ones worth having.

    No, you do not get to brand me anything, ‘anti-this’ or ‘anti-that,’ and accuse me of preaching. My reading of the constitution supports that we are to encourage a democratic society in which plurality of opinions may thrive, and you clearly, are doing no such thing. If anyone is preaching from his or her high horse, you’ve proved yourself more than worthy of the title.

    In fact, I brand you ‘ANTI-NATIONAL,’ however vacant the term is. See, it is absolutely ludicrous using such meaningless rhetoric just to polarize and antagonize people. Who are you to decide what is national and what is not? I identify with the land, the people, the soil, the water, the mountains, and the food just as much, if not more, than you or anyone else who lives in this country.

    P.S: You have done me a great honor by making me fictitious and your itchy speculation on my identity is a great source of humour.

  9. Aditya Singh

    I was born and bought up Nagaland for 17 years. I have seen terrorism first hand. It was AFSPA that kept the terrorists under check. The local police in these states are unequipped to deal with gunned terrorists who had AK-47. The police themselves seek shelter of military. When you have trouble, you call the military and they deal with it. Although now, it has cooled down and is much more peaceful (I have heard from sources – a decade since i left) after the Vajpayee government who cooled them down in a single master stroke ;). These people were asking for another country with some local support. The issues are more complicated than what you and the international libtard politically-correct anti-capitalist media would want to teach you. 😉

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