Theoretically, it’s not something new. Right from the time we started school, the hackneyed chhabis janvari ki parade essays in all languages make the Indian Republic Day more of a customary event for us as kids.
But for me, Delhi and hostel life brought back the thrill. For one, I got to attend the Beating Retreat Ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Two, I was away from the habitual watching-in-the-hall-with-family and thus I got a chance to assess the Doordarshan broadcast independently. Since then, every Republic Day has been so meaningful!
The observance of silence at Amar Jawan Jyoti memorial for the countless martyrs and the heroic stories of the gallantry honour recipients, especially the posthumous awards rouse reverberating sentiments. Followed by a formidable display of power by the defence forces of India, it rouses deep patriotism.
26th Jan 2015 has set some great precedents! Yes of course, it is a historic day with a US President as the chief guest. But even more touching is the theme of this year’s celebrations: Nari Shakti (woman power). Wing Commander Pooja Thakur led the Guard of Honour for Mr.Obama. It was a celebration of many such firsts: all-women marching contingents of the Indian defence forces and a woman officer hoisting the National Flag. When the people staying in remote areas with TV/radio as the only mode of influence get to hear accounts of these exemplary ladies, there is bound to be some impact on the liberation of the women. Also, I had not noticed this last year, but Doordarshan has started running a parallel sign language commentary in the interest of the speech and hearing impaired citizens. These innovations are heartening.
I will say this Republic Day has moved us as a nation, one step ahead in inclusion.
**Btw, even the first Republic Day Parade took place on 26th January, 1950 (technically significant for the adoption of the Indian Constitution).