Festivities of national fervour that now have become over a
fortnight long kaleidoscope grip the whole nation. And it has always had a top
down orientation - from the government/administration to the public. Tomorrow,
on our 70th Independence Day, prime minister Narendra Modi will deliver his
third address to the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort. As the tradition
goes, President Pranab Mukherjee addressed the nation this evening on the
Independence Day eve.
Every government dispensation, from ministries to government
institutions to educational institutions, all are coloured in shades of the
tricolour - in letter and spirit (irrespective of its source). What is new with
this NDA government is that is trying many new things, looking to revive the tales
of nationalism which existed only as the subjects of school text books so far.
So, that is a welcome step in that sense.
As the whole nation bathes in the tricolours of the
Independence, there is a rush to cash the sentiments on, as happens every year.
As happens, even our Independence Day has graduated to the scale where it has
become a truly social event. While being a landmark day for us to revisit our freedom
struggle and pay tributes to our nation liberators and builders, it is now also
an extended occasion to enjoy some quality free time with family and friends. Add
to it the marketing inventions. Every operator/vendor, from
electronics/consumer durables industry to FMCG companies, is busy in extending
'bumper discount offers'. With aviation boom in India, every carrier is
shelling out cheaper air tickets than trains. Hotels and restaurants come up
with customized menu for the occasion.
Restive parts of the country, i.e., Jammu & Kashmir and
Naxalism/Maoist insurgency hit areas, see regular diktats appealing people to
observe black day on the day. In the latest addition to the government's
crackdown measures, now internet and telephone services are halted to prevent
rumour mongering, something on which these separatists/insurgents/scavengers
thrive. The regular exercise is to detain the major separatist leaders of
J&K and to heighten the security apparatus of the nation to the maximum
level to keep in check the terror designs.
Another regular feature of the Independence fortnight is the
'war of words' between India and Pakistan and the situation is really tense
this time. Prime minister Narendra Modi, who so far had taken the initiative to
normalize relations with Pakistan with unscheduled messages and visits, didn't
tweet to congratulate his Pakistani counterpart today (Pakistan celebrates its Independence
Day on August 14). As Modi rightly stated yesterday that any outstanding point
on Kashmir between India and Pakistan is PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir), the
atmosphere is going to vitiate further. And an increased Indian focus on
Pakistan's atrocities in Balochistan would only add to it. An indication was
seen in Abdul Basit's response, Pakistani High Commissioner to India, who said
that the theme to this year's Pakistan's Independence Day would focus on