We could use a safe public park /parks in different parts of Delhi, such that no one has to travel too far. It should be as inclusive as possible. But to have a people behave within confines of decency, each park activity/activities should be coordinated by various voluntary agencies, who will be able to manage their own children and people they get with them
More ways could be thought out. We need to use the public space with more creatively and responsibly.
Was delighted to read a wonderful piece and wishes to assure my fullest cooperation for any meaningful exercise to creat awareness on the issue.
Your idea for togetherness with alternative vision is appreciable. Dialogue India is with u in your future effort in this direction.
Good idea, Madhu. it's time to get the public back in the republic day. right now, it looks like a show of strength by a tin pot dictatorship.
But will the government listen to us lowly citizens?
I respect your views and feel its absolutely in-cohesive for someone like me , brought up on military Base / environment.
Here is Why.... My father fought two wars for the country, which saw my family being brought up on a military base and we taught the basic ground reality of life that i am very sorry to say many of the civilians have absolutely no idea about. i remember my childhood where it was a matter of great pride to know my father did he part to make our country a more secure place, without being recognized duly for his efforts. Civilians would look down at family from the armed forces as we would not make as much money as businessman in the early 80's. my father survived a helicopter crash that made him permanently give up flying and eventually quit the air force prematurely so he could provide a better life for us, which he did. However his heart and soul was part of what made him a well balanced man, unlike most civilians, who have a strange knack of making a nuisance of themselves and who would be the first to soil their trousers at God forbid any National disaster or at worldwide catastrophic event where one would risk their life for another. No, but what you do hear is these neanderthals, taking life of innocents Under the influence after some flim flam uncouth caper. The military men have a completely different upbringing and class, and if One day is taken out to showcase them and what they work so hard to protect, i think 99.9 % of gutless civilians might learn to appreciate them a little more, just using their canteen cards to get cheaper detergent cause frankly that's all we are linked with, sadly! So the "public" need to have a reality check for all the unsung hero's such a my dad too, who passed away with just fond memories and blessing of the many he saved during his tenure with the Indian Air Force.
And the "Public" should should be properly educated on the blood sweat and tears each of these men have to go through to keep them walking safely on the streets. The government should make it mandatory for all to enlist for a minimum 2 years of service for the armed forces so to be at least half of the man my father and many many not even known to me were.
If the ministers were bored, Enlist them for two years they'd appreciate it more, if the tabeluex's were boring, the "public" should help support their states and positively promote them. The soldiers who marched practice for months together and wait in the bitter cold for hours and hours to get their few moments of glory is absolutely without a doubt important!who also wait every year to be a part of this prestigious event where afterwards they are rewarded by a "Bada Khana" with the Head of command from their respected contingents/forces, and i think instead of being so critical we should applaud them.
If the show was soo boring, then one should help in whatever way they can, not talk about it and pretend it's an inconsequential "sarkari ritual".
I Apologize for all my shortcomings, but i was really offended by what you wrote. You always have my respect and support Ma'am, but not here.
First of all don't use word civilians. This is the British legacy using civilian word. You father was also civilian and you are also civilian. Military is a profession and there are so many things which is the part of duty. It is being paid by the government and try to take care of all defence personal. My dear officers call jawan as a jonies that is like a bad name. Many officers are considered jawan as a servant and you better know it.
I am writing because you use word civilian. What about the farmers position? My dear farmer do the work without any pension or award. He works throughout the years for feeding us. Can you call farmer as a civilian and behave like hatred people? My dear don't use word civilian like Britishers used. Now a days people don't prefer to join Forces beacause there are plenty of other jobs. That is why I wrote that it a profession. How many people join army for the protection of the country? I can say a few and what they do, it is a part of their duty. There are other jobs also like RAW.IB etc they also do their work and nobody knows about their status.
The debate on Republic Day can be held but the mind set should be changed. It is the strange thing in army that the records of General of the country is not up to date. There are corruption within the forces as same as other institutions. We all are civilian basically and we have a different role and profession. Don't make any separation and remeber we are all civilian basically.
I really sympathize with your very valid point being a military postal historian myself, but on the other hand, I did read Prof Kishwar's original posting and also think she has a point too.
I did have two very close friends when I lived in India briefly, one joined the IAF and died tragically a few years ago when one of the latest and 'ultra safe' latest MIG's crashed with no apparent explanation; it was devastating as he was so young and just started a family and the kids must be missing their dad terribly. On the other hand, I had another friend who had relatives working for the Indian Army and enjoyed the cut-price shopping at these canteens. He never bothered about the pains of being in the uniform, but liked the benefits of being a relative of someone in it.
There are a lot of events that get held in India with no planning at all. Just because there is money to throw around, it does not mean one gloove size fits all hands. The Commonwealth Games made India a laughing stock, it was a showcase of incompetence, corruption and ego.
I am sure things will improve with time, but one needs some fresh blood at decision making level and planning all across the board. People with clean, uncorrupted minds where personal gain is not the main driving force in life.
Joao Paulo Cota
Hear hear, Melanie! As fauji son myself, I endorse your views 100%. My father was in 3 wars - 1948, 1965 and 1971.
Now, I don't know that we need a Soviet style parade. I don't think so. But we do need to let the whole country - not just the vile chattering classes in Delhi - know what it takes to keep the country from falling apart, and Lord knows our politicians, media assorted thugs allied with and often indinguishable from them are try to do their best to tear the country to shreds.
If we are to 'reclaim' - whatever that means - Republic Day, how about Independence Day? It's been 65 years since the last British ship departed: must we continue to define our ancient nation in terms of just one of dozens of invaders over the millenia? I'd like us to stop celebrating August 15 - or at least as Independence Day, not the least because the term is so utterly meaningless except to the mafia that seized control of the nation on that day in 1947 and continues its despotic hold on 1.2 billion people.
There's a stronger case to 'reclaim' Independence Day than Republic Day.
Thank you for your initiative to put our heads together and start thinking of ways in which citizens can reclaim the Republic Day. It is high time we reclaim the citizens' rights. In the name of VIP security and status the freedom of common people is being robbed more and more. Those who rob it or get the benefit of such robbery are afraid of people and should be removed from public life. People's freedom is the primary object for protection and that is what our constitution guarantees and all free nations ensure. This encroachment by those in power is going on unchecked in all areas and it is high time we stop it and reclaim our democratic rights.
Dr. N. N. Panicker
I nostalgically remember that in my younger days, I had always enjoyed the fine marching by the various contingents which, for the ordinary civilian, was the only glimpse of the ceremonial grandeur of the uniformed forces. I also recall that, during my days in the NCC, it used to be the dream of every cadet to be chosen to participate at the "R-Day Parade". The fly past still enthralls me. My daughters delightedly look forward today, as I did then, to the charming displays by the school children.
Unfortunately, time appears to have stood still and one cannot but help agree with your observations. The parade is today, what it was 50 years ago: the same old stalls/seating, the same, as you put it so well, "series of mostly unimaginative tableaux put together by various state governments and Public Sector Undertakings". Surely, the country has moved on and the whole concept needs a thorough revamp.
Only, I would not go so far as to refer to this as "reclaim Republic Day". One parade (even if replicated in the states) does not constitute the Republic Day.
There are many alternatives, many options. As you rightly said, we must put our heads together and start thinking of ways in which to do this.
Sure I will be happy to Join you.. Regards.. Jai Hind!
Hi Madhu, I was just thinking how very officious and pompous these days have become. Worse than the Raj. We indians seem to love this VIP culture. In Meghalaya we are trying to fight this arrogance of power and office.
Marvelous idea. Please collect the best articles and commentaries and publish them in book form entitled "The Ideal Republic" before the next Republic Day.
Organise a neighbourhood festival where children can dance and sing and others can do skits, read poems etc.
Just a note to thank you for that Republic Day posting. Thursday the 26th was a day when my oft-taught basic Hinduism class was meeting. We started with you.
Will apply me mind after I am through with my Greening the Slum project. Maybe if nothing happens we should organize Jhankis of our own to highlight Citizen Problems .These can come after the Republic Parade is over .I can organize a Jhanki to highlight the need for Slum Eradication. You can have Jhankis to highlight problem of Rikshawalas,street Vendors etc.Anna Hazare's team can have one on Jan Lok Pal/ Lok Ayukt Acts and Citizens Grievance Charter etc
I have been reading your articles with interest.
I have felt for a long time that the Republic Day Parade has lost its enthusiasm for a long time now. It does not serve any useful purpose any more. It is a drag and wasteful expenditure. There is no point being afraid of a terrorist attack on one hand and showing bravery and war machinery on the other.
If it cannot be scrapped altogether it should be phased out to once in 2 years in the beginning and then once in 5 years.
Just to add that I too found your comment meaningful and appropriate.
l like the following elements in a "people's Republic Day" celebration, in no particular order:
-- lots of good food & drink
-- sports & physical activity: if not participating, at least watching
-- live street plays on the themes of the Constitution
-- making the functions inclusive of all segments of society
-- having realistic, meaningful debates about constitutional matters & how they affect normal people's lives, maybe run mock constituent assemblies
K.V. Bapa Rao
Dear Madhu, read your thoughts on the Republic day and felt really sad. Millions are spent ,to prove What? While the majority suffer malnutrition,are illiterate and job less.If only the parties who are in the opposition could work together ,instead of fighting each other,and try to do some thing about poverty. Where do these people in power get so much money?Who says India is the largest democracy.How can there be a republic with unequal distribution of wealth.Madhu, I enjoy keeping in touch with Manushi.If you need further illustrations, I'll do it for free from now on.love,
I agree with the need to have a more "people friendly" Republic Day celebration. But I have to say that I do not agree with Madhuji's idea that the military display should be eliminated entirely.
Right from childhood, I have always had a great deal of respect for our military forces and this has not diminished over the years. While growing up, for a while I (and I'm sure many other little boys all over India) dreamed of one day becoming an Army officer. To this day, I follow military matters with great interest. Despite all its flaws, I feel that our military is one institution that all Indians can be justifiably proud of. I see no reason why we need to be apologetic about our military might. I feel that we celebrate our military too little, rather than too much.
This is not to say that Republic Day is the most appropriate day to celebrate our military. Perhaps another day would be more appropriate. But better to do it on Republic Day than not at all.
It is also really unfortunate that the general public is denied access to the parade on the grounds of security. It would be much better if the VIPs - with all their complex security arrangements - were to say away from Rajpath that day so that Indian public could watch the military display from close quarters.
Madhu can correct me but I think she was objecting to the impersonal brutish nature of the show which seemed more to celebrate the netas than the men & women & their service.
It would be nice if the military "came to the people", did PR-type outreach events for exposing people to the twin ideas of serving the country and using massive killing machines. :-) I had been to one or two such events as a child and remember them more vividly & fondly than the parades. Both in such events and in the NCC, the down-to-earth naturally friendly attitude of the NCOs, JCOs etc., was always heartwarming, though their variously-accented renditions of Hindi always presented challenges. :-)
K.V. Bapa Rao
"did PR-type outreach events for exposing people to the twin ideas of serving the country and using massive killing machines."
The military "parks" itself close to the start of the parade point, and a curious crowd always gathers (or so I remembe from my own curiosity many years ago). This could be made into a proper PR outreach.
We need the military, and shd take pride in it!
Krishen Kak email@example.com
With some creativity and talent R-day could be a wonderful and inclusive celebration; as for the military, it has a natural appeal, and all it takes is to have grassroots level contact in a friendly setting.
The present problem is the ruling elite have grown increasingly heartless and barren--this was always a problem, but now it seems to be metastasising. Whatever they put together ("create" is not the word) reflects those qualities and feeds it. If not counteracted, this can spread till society itself becomes soul- and brain-dead.
Probably cross that bridge when it is reached, no? To start with, they will probably not even look at the humbler people's celebrations anyway.
There should be no problem having any persons around, as long as they they jettison the "very important" part of themselves and are prepared to be normal human beings.
K.V. Bapa Rao
I regularly recieve your articles and have been reading them with interest. For the last 6 years I have been running a magazine here in Canada with an aim of promoting Hindi here.
However, due to recession, I am not able to continue printing for the time being. Just waiting for the situation to improve but want to post your interesting articles on the website as I still have dedicated readers who continue to visit.
I would like to post your articles on my websitewww.outlookcanada.com with your permission. If it is ok with you, can you send me your picture. I might even google it.......no worries I recognize you as I met you a few times when working in New Delhi. I know you will not remember me.
Anyways, I am excited about your positive response as I thoroughly agree with your Republic Day article. I always felt the same way. As kids I remember going to a few Republic Day parades as my dad worked for the External Affairs ministry and was able to get passes. But once he retired, I have never been nor have been able to take my kids. As a result, my kids don't care about the event any more. Living in Canada, I try to remind my kids about our history and past and these are important for me. But this question always comes......can we see the parade one day when we go to India? I have no answer.
Could it be that all shops are closed voluntarily due to 26th January rather than government forcing Hartal or closing of shops? With best wishes, and regards, Sincerely, DS
The day appears not too far when Republic Day or Independence Day shall be celebrated in the closed precincts of Rashtrapati Bhawan in the presence of no more than 100 dignitaries. The "people" will be entitled to just watch a TV report. I have been to USA and watched the openness of the system. I could go inside UNO and even in the main hall of the Capitol. Can we see Parliament? I am constrained to say that we are one of the worst societies.
But Madhu , shopkeepers & traders want a day off . So why not this occasion?
Many a market such as defene colony had many shops that remained open . Maybe that was because I was there after the parade, since I went there in the evening.
I think Delhi is certainly not like Srinagar.
How right. I was once in Chennai, 2 decades ago, and on official work, and delighted to see people carrying on normally, with their lives.
This is Delhi centric and somewhat incomplete. Granting that Delhi and commercial centres perhaps everywhere have to change the way of celebrating R Day, I would like to point out that throughout the country at all levels flag hoisting and cultural activities take place - state, distrct, panchayat, every institution including educational ones, residents' assns have such activities. My Residents ' Assn had it this year also as usual. I am sure this is the case in other places. Perhaps Delhi is concentrating too much on the parade!!
Dear Madhu Ji,
We Kashmiri are used to see 26Th Jan / 15Aug as it is these days at Delhi.
Madhuji is very correct but here the government strictness is due to Kashmiri terrorists, Islamic terrorists and Mao wadi terrorists. If such terror threats are not there country will be free and safe.
This was a good one, and a sad one!
Could not agree more with you
Am sending u a piece i did for the TOI in Jan 2008.....
I recd. a lot of brickbats....and hate-mail...!
But am still hoping that some of our more enlightened MP-s / senior military offrs. will at least consider this view...
Regards...and yes, greetings for the 26th!
C Uday Bhaskar
The absolute truth and you have put it so well. I hope I have your permission to reproduce it in the March issue of Freedom First.
Ms Madhu Poornima Kishwar
True many of the occupiers of those high offices are unworthy, but symbolism binds and unites us. Every Regiment or its company when going for hand to hand fight have their war cry.
What is being suggested is a white flag when confronted with the enemy? Though our National Leaders do that often. Unfortunately media is in the forefront-they have got used to cozy life.
With best regards,
Commander Prem P Batra Retired
It may be time for the people to claim control of Republic Day and devise their own fun and joyous celebrations, bypassing the dour officials entirely. The present "celebrations" reflect the officialdom's paternalist fantasy of an infantalized nation consisting of obedient and orderly good boys and girls, who will study and work hard and take care of them. They are mostly old men and women, in spirit if not in body, who have given up all hope of experiencing anything fun or uplifting. Like all old people, their hold on the young is very fragile and can be easily toppled.
K.V. Bapa Rao
The Republic Day celebrations are a sham. I could not agree with you more. It is important to involve the common man in the celebration. This is yet another manifestation of the Delhi Durbar unfurling its pageantry to feel better about its power. It angers me to see the VIP syndrome take over and even as an IPS officer I refused to attend the celebrations as I did not want to salute crooks. I spent the day instead visiting remote Naga villages as those are the people for whom the Republic was declared.
With all due apologies, we do not have enlightened MPs. I saw Pranab at the IMF annual meetings a few months ago and he was a bloody disgrace. We lack leadership and by that I mean political leadership. With the current monkeys in charge I find it hard to buy into the hype and hoopla about India.
I hope you are well and wish you a wonderful Republic Day!
Thanks for this article. I remember, when I was young, the excitement around Republic Day. My parents were still genuinely thrilled about an independent and democratic India. My Dad worked for the Defense Ministry at the time, and left pre-dawn to act as an usher in the VIP enclosure. And my mom would pack some snacks and escort us to the parade... which was thrilling (with some admittedly boring bits). There was an air of festivity and celebration.
It's sad that's gone. I went back once, with my own kids, in the 1990s. Even then, it was losing its gloss. I put it down to my growing older - but maybe it wasn't that. Maybe it was just that the enthusiasm of a new country - I'm only a few years younger than Free India - had dissipated.
You have perfectly analysed the pulse of everyone.
Why can't we Indians think differently, facts and experience expressed by you are well known to each one of us but no one puts it on paper, rather everyone should appreciate your experience and attempt to change our attitude and working styles instead of following the monologues and government rituals.
Great expressions......appreciate from the bottom of my heart.
Very aptly put.
Yes Public is missing from REPUBLIC, it's replaced by RECOLONISED!
in full agreement,
And we all push ourselves to be present at Republic Day function as a part of our national duty.
I think these celebrations need to change with the times so that connect with public is not lost.
Actually it is one day late to say happy republic day. it is all due to Government of Kashmir as all the phones were blocked and whole city was under restrictions.