Saturday, August 13, 2011

Pride



It may have had something to do with the fact that at every Republic Day parade, every single year in school, I'd be the first to be thrown out in the screening process with my woefully un-coordinated marching while my sister would be chosen to lead the contingent for the parade resulting in intense sibling jealousy. That I assume would be the primary reason why I had very little regard (at least superficially) for formal ceremonies like hoisting the national flag and marching.
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I think this incident was before I turned a teen, a point in life upto which you take everything that your Parents (Notice the capitalization) teach you as the equivalent of the word of God without questioning it or arguing over it. So one day my dad read out to me a newspaper article about a guy who ran up to the roof of his burning office building and brought out the national flag hoisted up there before escaping the building. "Ha! What a donkey!" I guffawed out cheerfully. 
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Wrong answer, it seemed, a very wrong answer. I knew instantly because my Mom and Dad rarely agree on anything, back then or even today, yet in sync with a surprised stare at me from my old man, I heard Mom's voice address me from the adjoining kitchen "What? What did you say?" I went "Uh! I mean... you know... like I thought..." and trailed off. Dad isn't the lecturing type so he came up with a short "It's OUR national flag, after all. He's a great guy for doing what he did." and promptly went back to scanning his newspaper. That's all the conversation we had over this topic and I was left pondering.
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I know that our flag is grossly misused, by those criminal politicians who mock salute it at every parade; by fundamentalist pseudo-patriotic, religious and regional forces to spread hatred amongst brothers and by those thieving businessmen who build the world's most expensive home out of stolen taxpayer's money, then sell products which harp on the patriotic strings of their customers. But I refuse to link it with them despite their desperate urge to somehow project themselves as extensions of that inspiring image of a tri-coloured cloth fluttering in the wind. 
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Would I run into a burning building to 'rescue' our national flag? I probably would not find the courage to. Would I stand still at the side of the road if I were running a very important errand and the national anthem starts playing? I would not. That would feel ridiculous as I am an incurable cynic. Yet what I would also not do is laugh at people who do those things. For the flag and the anthem are potent symbols, of glorious ideals that may be never be fully met yet must always be aspired to.
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We owe the respect to the hundreds of millions of peaceful, self-respecting, hard working, honest men and women out there who end the day with a happy conscience and of whose ranks we are hopefully part of. We owe the respect to a land which has shared its beauty, its craziness, its people, its memories, its knowledge, its resources, its history, its cultures and its influences to bring us to where we stand in life today no matter how much we choose to refute it. We owe it to ourselves if we have the slightest bit of pride in who we are and what defines us as the flag is the common representative of all of us and each individual at the same time. 
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There was this ill-fated field hockey league which ran for about two years before shutting shop, India being the unhealthily cricket-obsessed nation that it is, called the PHL [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premier_Hockey_League]. The League may be gone but their TV promotional slogan stuck like glue in my head and I tend it to overuse it on every appropriate and inappropriate occasion because I feel that it is always so relevant in life. "Garv nahin toh kuchh nahin..." (roughly translates to "What's worth living for but pride...")

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5 comments:

Kumar Bibek said...

Running into a burning building!!! I don't know. It will probably depend on the situation. It does sound crazy, but I guess, you would find a few people who could actually run for it.

As for the looters, the so-called politicians, I have no words for them.

It will take generations now for India to change from what it has become. I don't think this change is possible within a span of few years.

Roy said...

I agree that it'll take some time... lots of time... maybe too much time but it has to begin some day and with some people. I think it has already taken some baby steps. I am an optimist about all matters India. It took 26 years of optimism to help India win the WC. :) I am the patient hopeful type! :)

Vishal Jain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vishal Jain said...

We all curse politicians but do not you think, we should be blamed equally for their culprits/scams/corruptions. While voting most of us give preferences to caste, religion, region and what not, so why will someone think about us or think about country. Aam Aadmi without power do not think about others, why should a powerful person think of amending such favourable conditions. Things will change when we will change. I hope we all will change soon.

Never the less we all feel proud to be Indian whenever we hear national anthem, national song and this proud will persist forever for most of us thats what I think ;)

Roy said...

@Vishal: Very much in agreement that we are the only ones to blame for the mess we find ourselves in.