Thursday, September 20, 2007

Independence Day Now

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By T.V. Vinu

Cochin: I still remember those days. Only a few owned television sets at that time. On Independence day, I and my friends would run home from school, after the morning "mass assembly", to reach in time to watch the parade telecasted from Delhi.
We would watch the school children march by; the tableaus and the dancers; the armed forces - on foot, on horses, on camels...and there would be the fly-past. The fly-past used to give us goose bumps. The bands would march by, playing tunes
that excited us. We would watch with awe, as the tanks and missile carriers rolled by.

There would be the Presidential Address, which none of us would really listen to (that was a boring part, then.).
And in the end there would be the National Anthem. We children would stand up in 'attention', in front of the television. In the end, we would cry at the top of our voice "Jai Hind"!
August 15th, 2007 just passed by and it was just another holiday. I slept a little longer than usual.

When I woke up, I could hear the national anthem being played in the nearby school. I didn't even think of turning on the TV. Watching the celebrations live from Red Fort on Doordarshan is...a cliché. But then, no other channel broadcasts the celebrations live.
There are "Independence Day Special" programs and "Independence Day Special Movies" on every other channel. Any programme with the tricolor as background is an "Independence Day Special" programme. Any film in which Shah Rukh Khan or Amithab Bachan is seen with the national flag is an "Independence Day Special" movie. Every programme or movie has a "short break" every 10
mins, lasting 10mins. All the companies, especially the MNCs, are eager to wish the viewers a Happy Independence Day.

A good part of the TV viewing is spent viewing the advertisements. But then, it is only a matter of choice - to see or not to see.
So, I picked up the newspaper and felt it heavier than usual. There were some additional pages to commemorate the 60 years of Independence. There were some rare pre and post independence photographs, editorials and articles. They were inspirational and gave a feel of India at that time. But the most depressing part was that, the articles and photographs filled only half of every page. The other half was full with advertisements. Almost 3/4th of the page on which the famous "Tryst with Destiny" speech of Shri Jawaharlal Nehru was printed, was filled with advertisement.

Did I tell you I was reading a national daily which celebrated a Hundred years long back in 1978? The paper claimed that the press had played an important part towards an independent India and boasted of their commitment to the people of India. Well I see it!!
My mobile phone beeps as the Independence Day messages keep pouring in. My Orkut scrap book is full of Independence Day wishes and Gmail inbox is full of messages asking me to change my photo to that of a tricolor.

But I don't find that old excitement. As I lie on my favourite arm chair, with a TV remote and a copy of the national daily by my side, I remember the good old days. That excitement, that togetherness, those goose bumps... Some day I would like to be free... Some day I would like to stand in sing the national anthem... Some day i would like to cry on top of my voice....."JAI HIND"!

Courtesy: Mindtext, an e-journal brought out by students for Centre For Public Policy Research, Cochin, Kerala.

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