It would be in bad form to rain on the parade especially when it features the most powerful man in the world as the chief guest. It is a feather in the Modi government’s cap that it was able to swing US President Barack Obama’s visit to India. But the question must be asked as to why a parade which is meant to celebrate the Republic of the people makes life so difficult for the people, thanks to the iron grip of security. It is no one’s case that VVIPs should not have adequate security and especially when a very high-profile target happens to be the State guest. But, the sense of joie de vivre which should characterise today has been knocked sideways, thanks to the crippling security which has made the run-up to the parade a nightmare for those trying to get from one point to the other in central Delhi. Then there is the question of the parade itself. No doubt, successive governments are anxious to display the might of the State in the form of awesome military hardware. But, does a modern democracy need to showcase its military might like the Soviets did at one time, or the People’s Republic of China does? Of course, we should have the finest in arms and ammunition but just as the army is not in your face in India, perhaps the weaponry too need not be showcased quite so much. If the idea is to impress Mr Obama, then it is a bit thin on the ground, considering the kind of weapon systems the United States has. But that is to digress.
Rather than have organised parades, maybe it would be a good idea if people were left to celebrate the republic in their own ways. Or not celebrate it if they did not want to. To subject school children and young cadets, among others, not to mention government officials and workers to the rigours of preparation for the parade seems a tad over the top. It seems far too forced and deprives the occasion of the joy and spontaneity that should go with it.
This time around, the whole shebang has become all the more complicated because of the security involved in protecting the US President. For thousands of people trying to just get on with their lives, these past few days have been a nightmare of disruption and delays. But thankfully, it is but once a year. A very happy Republic Day to all our readers.