My earliest memories of Republic Day are probably from the mid nineties Doordarshan telecast of the Parade. After a cursory glance of the headlines in the paper my father would switch the television on right after the morning dose of patriotic songs on Vivdh Bharathi. I was lost among the aggressively swishing hands of the thousands of soldiers marching and the greater wave of humans witnessing the spectacle on Rajpath. As the National Anthem would sound I would stand to attention ignorant of why the Red Letter Day was constantly being mentioned and also quite stumped by the commentary alternating in a rather officious sounding Hindi and sonorous English. As soon as the aero display finished I would run off for things which I presently donot remember.
Through the years Republic Day's significance (at least in historical terms) dawned on me, apart from the fact that its a day of rest and general display of patriotism at the local welfare hall. The last few years have also been taken over the manic thirst for consumer gratification through reduction sales to a new height by that 'Retail Raja'-so to speak, Kishore Biyani, whose Big Bazaar sales culminate on Republic Day.
The media typically playing to the gallery takes on 'tough' debates to dissect the Indian socio-political scenario, raising our polity's consciousness, covering stories which cover the spectrum of the burning issues of the hour. Sagarika Ghose in a poll on State of the Nation deciphers that one in two people across India consider themselves a misfit in age terms while the ungraciously aging, Shobha De with a sprinkling of vampish grins declares she never felt better. Such is the state of the nation not worth a nano-glance rather than a whole hour suffused with the necessary 'inflows into coffers' breaks.
India has come a long way since drafting and amending the longest written Constitution of any sovereign nation. Its role of inclusiveness rings in its assurance to citizens- of justice, equality and liberty. A fact belied in Manmohan Singh's response to India being a slow elephant at the recent Pravasi Divas function, he said- India is a slow elephant as it has to accommodate the various sections of society which believe in the process of a democracy, but when it moves it leaves a deep imprint.
In an age of instant gratification and messaging not many subscribe to the old school of thought of informed deliberation and much want the pachydermous pace to hasten. Speed and development would come at a cost though, but surely not at the cost of the ecology, human dignity and the society.