Last year Independence Day coincided with Rakshabandhan and there was general joy and gaiety with two important festivals – one national and one traditional – falling on the same day. I remember our society had organised Independence Day celebrations with unfurling of National flag followed by some patriotic music and refreshments.
While celebrating last year’s festivals nobody would have foreseen what kind of difficulty the nation and the world were to face in the days to come. It started with the ordinance of Citizenship amendment being passed as a bill in both Houses of Parliament thereby becoming an act, CAA. It started nation wide protests with a peaceful sit in by women at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi that was to last for months together. Delhi also witnessed its worst communal riots after a long hiatus and these coincided with President Trump’s visit to India. While the things were settling down, we heard about a highly contagious strain of virus having affected Wuhan province in China, which became a worldwide pandemic over the next few months. As I write this blog, India is in severe grip of the pandemic, recording highest number of cases day after day and the overall infection here being third largest in the world after US and Brazil. In these tough times even the Mother Nature didn’t spare her fury and we saw two of the worst cyclones on the East and West coasts of the country. Currently monsoons are causing havoc in several parts of the country, Mumbai itself is experiencing highest rainfall in decades. Ironically, Mumbai is also facing water cut as catchment areas of its lakes are not having sufficient rains to stock water requirement of the city for the entire year between two monsoons. In fact, this is the pattern of rain in most places – either excess rain and floods or drought like situation.
All our festivals just came and went by. Institutions of learning are shut down. Railways and flights are shut. People handling essential services, our Corona warriors, are on the field risking their lives while others are facing problem of a different kind – more psychological – due to extended period of work from home. While we saw several celebrities falling victim to Covid infection, lockdown led to increased cases of depression, domestic disharmony and suicides.
As if all the above was not enough, we saw ugly clashes with China at Galwan valley that saw India losing 20 of its bravehearts, while for Pakistan, it was business as usual with skirmishes on LOC and that country fuelling the fire in Kashmir with false propaganda. Nepal only complicated things further.
In the face of all negatives, the country saw some positives too. Decades old dispute of Ramjanmabhoomi got peacefully settled with both sides respectfully accepting the legal verdict. In the in unlockdown process, the Government and RBI came out with huge financial impetus to facilitate restarting of commercial activity in the country. India managed pandemic better than several advanced countries. The valour of our bravehearts in Galwan has been taken note of by the entire world and while China has been isolated, other enemies have also got strong message of India’s strength. Good monsoons are likely to fill country’s granary. People have imbibed learning from Pandemic to start new style of living.
As a country, we have faced it all and worst – wars with enemies, internal strifes, inflation, natural calamities, hunger and poverty, corruption, crime, and if we could come out of 200 years of oppressive British rule, I have no doubt that the future belongs to us. Whether it’s honge kamyaab, India shining, Aatmanirbhar Bharat or any other slogan to be adopted as per the need of the hour, we should all face current down slide with strength and optimism, contribute to the nation building and join hands together to lead the world. The past is past – the period gone between the last and this 15th August was fait accompli. But the period between this and the next 15th August is future and we can definitely shape our future by being united in our fight against all monsters – enemies, pandemic, economy, communal frenzy, unemployment and hunger.
Happy Independence Day.