The 26th of January has become a red-letter-day in the history of our nation. We celebrate Republic Day every year with due regard and enthusiasm. Indians, all around the world, celebrate this day with a sense of pride in their eyes. Republic day is a lot inspiring, that promotes nationality and patriotism among every citizen of the country. We, the people of India, gave ourselves our Constitution, thereby becoming the citizens of a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic. The words sound great indeed, but in reality, it is hard to achieve. To what extent have we successfully implemented these notions will still be debatable indeed; nevertheless, we must not cease our continuous efforts to march forward to achieve these goals.
Republic day is the day of commemoration of our Constitution. The Indian Constitution is the upshot of the debates, deliberations and research of the sovereign Constituent Assembly. The Constitution was enacted by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949, and came into effect on 26 January 1950, making every citizen hum, “Sare Jahan se Accha Hindustan Hamara.” The date 26 January was chosen to commemorate the Purna Swaraj declaration of independence of 1930. With its adoption, the Union of India officially became the modern and contemporary Republic of India and it replaced the Government of India Act 1935, as the country’s fundamental governing document.
We are now confronted with the question of what do we mean by Republic? The word Republic is derived from the Latin res, which means thing, affair or interest and publica, which means of everybody. It literally means everybody’s interest. In a republic, the government is an instrument solely for the collective security in which people are served rather than regulated; represented rather than ruled. Hence republic means, a state in which the supreme power rests in the people via elected representatives. Our great Indian freedom fighters have struggled to bring this swaraj to us, the people of India. They did so with great passion and deep desire for the future generations, that we may savour freedom and live it leading our country to its splendour. It is because of their selfless sacrifice, we can today think and act for ourselves in liberty, without any force. Our Tricolour-fluttering high at various international forums for its accomplishments makes us proud. But, on the other hand, it is disheartening to see people engage in crime and violence. Prior to independence, crime and violence was named ‘the British Dominion’. Present day’s crime and violence has the names of communalism, corruption, terrorism, etc. Poverty, unemployment and illiteracy are shadows of the falsely glorified digital India.
Baba Saheb Ambedekar, one of the chief architects of our Constitution during the deliberations, had once said, “However good a Constitution may be, if those who are implementing it are not good, it will prove to be bad. However bad a Constitution may be, if those implementing it are good, it will prove to be good.” Today we are witnessing a political upheaval which is divisive, dehumanizing and deprecating, backed by the hijacked media. There is a consistent attempt to divide people by creating oppressive myths and symbols such as anti-nationalism, instilling hate by anti-social acts, caste and religion based systematic oppression, portraying a utopia of false promises so on and so forth. As a result, there has been an assault and on the very secular and humane fabric of social life of the people. Indian citizens are made slaves of particular ideologies, that are contradicting the spirit of our constitution. What we have witnessed in the recent past is the increase in the appropriation of cultural ingredients in the political narrative. This has resulted in cultural alienation by which several groups of people are excluded and discriminated against leading to breach of trust and breach of peace. In this conflicting situation, the bitter cry of the aam aadmi is not heard. Today, there is a need to shape an alternative consciousness by deconstructing the oppressive myths and symbols. The Indian mind is deeply religious and reality is grasped symbolically rather than conceptually. Hence, we need to engage in a process of awakening the consciousness of people of liberative myths and symbols.
Our God heard the cry of the sinful and suffering humanity and it was radically articulated in the Incarnation. We have a beautiful model in Jesus, who deconstructed the oppressive ideology of the Romans and the Jewish Leaders, by means of an anti-domination discourse. George Soares Prabhu names the Indian Context as, “Cry-for-life” situation. As believers of this God we need to ponder over the cries of our Indian brothers and sisters. In our own times, St.Mother Theresa has been instrumental in shaping an alternative consciousness of service amidst the paradigm of self-will and self-interest.
As striving to be organic intellectuals and potential intelligentsia, we have a greater responsibility in shaping an alternative consciousness which is liberative and redemptive. For this we need depth in our analysis and our articulation needs to be strong. Thus, we can bring in this profound and much needed difference by our writings, through the social media and in our places of ministry. As responsible citizens of this country let us join our hands in this ministry of raising the consciousness, awakening consciousness and rekindling the consciousness of our people. We need to be free of prejudice, pessimism and pervert attitude so as to be faithful to the values which the Constitution of India upholds. We are optimistic and hopeful, to usher in a new era where we could boldly say in the words of Rabindranath Tagore, “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; Where knowledge is free; Where the world has not been broken up into fragments, By narrow domestic walls… Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”
Norwin Pereira SJ
[Norwin is a III rd year student of theology]