The 71st Republic Day of India doesn’t excite me much. Our constitution came into effect on this day, and we celebrate to commemorate the hard work that has gone into the making of a democratic republic, India. However, we’re at a juncture where we must reconsider why we must celebrate this day.
Following questions and doubts can help you empathize with my disinterest in this year’s Republic Day celebration: is the government of the day respectful to the constitution that celebrates plurality? “We, the People of India,” so begins the Preamble of our constitution, but I don’t know how my government will define “Indianness”, as it is hellbent on articulating citizenry on the grounds of religion.
I don’t know how to react to Jair Messias Bolsonaro’s invitation to India as the chief guest, a man who is well-known for his misogynistic, homophobic, racist, sexist remarks—so disgusting that I don’t want to repeat them here. His invitation demonstrates the present dispensation’s Hindutva agenda. It reeks of polarization and divide.
It disgusts me to think of another monologue by the Prime Minister over what he thinks he has done, and how well it’s for the whole country. I cringe at the thought that he’s once again going to address the nation and say how locking Kashmir down is the solution to curb militancy, how banning the internet is good for the country, and why he and his party won’t take a backseat on CAA and NRC.
When I say that I’m disgusted, in no way, it means that I’ve lost faith in the democratic structure or the basic overarching structure of our constitution. But the “why” and “how” of the celebration. Isn’t it a mockery of the citizens of the country when they can’t even participate in any way to uphold the body (constitution) that guarantees their rights and then have a Republic Day celebration? Aren’t we being hypocritical here?
Jair Messias Bolsonaro is definitely not someone who represents what India stands for. Neither does Narendra Modi or Amit Shah. If you want a “Why so?” for this, then either you belong to the league of people who’re the torchbearers of embedded journalism and sellouts, or you’ve been living on a different planet altogether.
It’s not for no reason that the makers of a free India had several doubts about India continuing to stand for the principles it did against the colonial regime. In this stifling environment, when facts and evidence are manufactured, when blatant lies are being told on social media and sold as our ‘History’, when lawsuits are slapped against institutions and people who raise their voice against the government; when students are beaten up because they want free education; when the people of India are being bullied into accepting several draconian laws; when marginalized people are facing the worst; when all sorts of mechanisms are placed to orchestrate well-organized exclusion campaigns, then what hope do I have from the constitution?
We have, or some clever people have ensured the weakening our constitution. And now, if it’s incapable of persevering the idea of India, which is subject to reinvention as the civilization progresses, then we definitely need to reevaluate and reassess its structure. And if it’s well capable of doing so, which I think is the case, then the people, especially the bigots and dividers-in-chief, must be dethroned—because they’re the are the ones who have demonstrated little to no capabilities of granting the citizens of India what they want: Freedom.
And if in the absence of this freedom, one asks me to celebrate the provider of this freedom—the body that enshrines my rights—I abhor that celebration.