Republic Day: Then and Now


I belong to the generation born a decade or so after independence that was lucky to have opened its eyes in an India high on the euphoria of newly acquired freedom. It was the time when memories of freedom struggle were still fresh in the minds of our parents and elders. Inspired by the stories of freedom fighters, we grew up steeped in patriotic fervor. As kids we were enthused by the patriotic songs like “Nanha munna rahi hun  desh ka sihahi hun…,” ‘“Kar chale hum vida jane tan sathiyoan , ab tumare hawale vatan sathitoan..”  Many of us would recall watching patriotic films like ‘Shaheed’ andHaqiqat’ with the school mates as a part of the school outings.

I can’t forget palpable excitement on Republic Day when the entire family would sit close to the radio listening to the running commentary of the parade at Raj Path in Delhi. There was no telecast; no live visual of the grand parade ,but we were spellbound by the commentary on All India Radio, the sound bites of the marching contingents of the armed forces, NCC cadets and  the bands playing  captivating music. The account of the tableaux showcasing the culture and progress of different states caught our imagination.

Also, nostalgic are the memories of Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations at school when we participated in the march past . Can’t forget how delighted we were to get the laddus, occasionally a samosa, and also a piece of barfi at the end of the function. Things are so different today. Functions are held in the schools to mark the National Festivals but not on the due dates. Days of national importance are just public holidays-extended ones for the schools as the next day is also declared a holiday, supposedly for the benefit of a handful of school children who participated in the  functions organized by the government .

While it has always been a practice to celebrate the spirit of patriotism on Independence Day and Republic Day, lately it has become fashionable to profess the love for the nation on social media. Patriotism, nowadays, is social media post evident in deluge patriotic messages on Independence Day and Republic Day. As a matter of fact, the tremendous surge in ‘Jai Hind’ and ‘Vande Matram’ messages is not just confined to the national festivals. Any crisis on the border is sure to erupt in a wave of patriotic messages on social media.

There is emergence of yet another form of firebrand patriotism – jingoism flaunted on many TV channels by the anchors and the studio guests. Blinded with arrogance, they dismiss the loyalty of others towards the nation while airing their own opinion emphatically. For the chest thumping nationalists anyone who questions the state is dubbed as anti- national.

                                                                                                                                                    However; nationalism and patriotism are not about chest thumping or symbolism. All of this is empty rhetoric unless love for the nation is translated into action. The best expression of patriotism does not lie in bold nationalistic proclamations but in humbly performing our duties as citizens. Real patriotism is  in being responsible citizens – in obeying the rules, keeping our surroundings clean, doing duty sincerely and honestly, treating all the country men with respect and sensitivity irrespective of caste, creed or religion.

Let us play our part to make India great so that we can take genuine pride in our nation.


(Published on 26 January 2020 in HT Chandigarh)


9 Replies to “Republic Day: Then and Now”

  1. When I was in school, my father who was an ex army officer used to be invited for the Republic Day Parade and days before the occasion he used to get his uniform readied with medals and colours for the big day. There used to be a lot of excitement in the house. We also accompanied him to the parade ground with patriotic fervour. These days only those people are considered patriotic or nationalist who chant Jai Hind or Vande matram who may otherwise be insensitive to other fellow countrymen.

    1. Thanks Mrs Rahi for sharing your childhood memories of Republic Day celebrations. Indeed sad to define patriotism in terms of symbolism !

  2. Rama, your article is eye-opener.periorties are changed in our time Independence day orRepulic day were holydays and now it’s holiday. The grendur, pious ness and glory is missing law has lost its dignity and beauty of unity in diversity is no more seen .Probably, we are the last generation to rememberहम लाये हैं sतूफान से किश्ती निकाल कर

    1. Mrs Behl , you have put across your point so beautifully….national festivals are merely holidays and not holy days ….perhaps it is the disillusionment with the state of affairs in the country that has led to dampening of enthusiasm..

  3. DearRama
    Thanks for a very beautifully written thought provoking write up again.
    I am really glad that l am not alone in voicing certain concerns on our ‘national days’ such as Republic Day and Independence Day, amidst all the fanfare and patriotic euphoria in social media and mass media.
    Which India we salute and call ‘mahaan’ when increasingly more and more of us are considering our ‘bharat’ unfit for our children to live and settle in future?
    You have very aptly defined true patriotism but my concern goes still deeper. I feel it is high time for general public , leaders and policy makers to do some honest soul searching and brain storming on these occasions to do something solid to reverse the trends and make our country suitable for younger generations to grow up and flourish instead of fleeing for greener pastures!
    Let ‘Proud to be Indian’ and ‘Mera Bharat Mahaan’ be honest admissions and not just formal proclamations.
    Grave thoughts aside, kudos to you for mirroring reality, harsh though may it be.
    Thanks for a very very commendable write up.

    1. Thank you so much ma’am for the heartfelt, hard hitting soul stirring comment…can’t agree more with you. No hollow proclamations but real work!
      Ma’am , I have been your student and continue to be your ardent student..a die hard fan .Salute you ma’am .

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