“Our Constitution works. Our great Republic is a government of law, not of men.” – Gerald R. Ford
The idea of nationalism, at least in the history of our republic, has never been as subjective as it is today. Democracy, which was once associated with principles like one vote per person, the rule of law, and fundamental rights to the citizens, no longer decides whether the system aligns with the fundamental principles of an ideal democratic government – ‘of the people, for the people and by the people’.
The modern democracy extends far beyond the boundaries of its recognition. The core ideology of a democracy is that it derives its authority from the people, and to serve as a system of government, democracy cannot rigidly adhere to age-old concepts; it has to be flexible, adaptable and dynamic, as and when required. To cater to these conceptual limitations in the form of government, we chose to be a republic.
Today, we mark the 69th anniversary of the adaptation of our Constitution, which replaced the Government of India Act. We celebrate our Republic Day on January 26 every year. But many of us might not know that this date has more significant historic importance than merely our Constitution coming into force.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was chosen as the President of the Congress during the Congress Annual Session at Lahore in the first week of January 1930 and a resolution was passed to support a countrywide demonstration in support of “Purna Swaraj” or complete Independence on the last Sunday of January 1930. The intention was to affirm that freedom is an inalienable right to the people of India and if any government tries to oppress them and deprive them of freedom, then they have the right to oppose that government. The date on that last Sunday was January 26. Every year after 1930, till our independence on August 15 1947, January 26 was celebrated as Independence Day by a very significant part of the population.
A very important question we should be asking today as we celebrate our Republic Day – should we attempt to re-affirm that freedom in its absolute form is our inalienable right? The right to freedom is not questionable when we consider the wide spectrum of activities we are allowed and permitted to carry out in a democracy or a republic but authority certainly has to be brought under scrutiny when our attempts to seek answers are curtailed.
I don’t feel the need to repeat the numerous examples where it was made evident that, those who question authority are a minority, and our government, as Plato anticipated, has turned into a tyranny of the majority. Our attempts to raise our voice has crumbled during the BJP regime. Due to the slightest deviation from their rigid idea of nationalism, the self-proclaimed protectors of Bharat mata, the pseudo-nationalists have threatened people’s lives.
The recent press conference by the Supreme Court judges implies that our democracy is under threat. Anyone who rationally analysed the events that have been happening would understand that our republic, our rights are being oppressed by an ideology so poisonous that it threatens the one factor without which our republic can never exist – secularism.
On this Republic Day, I write on behalf of all those who were silenced when they attempted to speak, who had their nationalist credentials questioned in their drawing rooms or dining halls; this is to let the members of the Sangh Parivar know that we will not be intimidated by their right-wing nationalist ideas.
This is our India and we have the right to shape it as we want. Our forefathers fought a war for independence, and we are ready to fight it again for the independence of our republic from the Sangh’s republic.