Today as you wake up to our 65th Independence Day, you will be heartened to learn that the idea of India is still a showstopper for the young. In a survey conducted by Hindustan Times-Gfk Mode across 12 cities among people between 16 and 25 years, an overwhelming 89.5% think that August 15 is the most important moment in India’s history.
And, while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s speech on the occasion is never made of the stuff that will set the Yamuna on fire, 61.7% of the respondents have listened to it over the last 5-10 years. Freedom was held to be the most precious commodity, scoring far above material comforts for the young.
But the days when kites in the national colours would be flown from rooftops seem to be getting over. The young and patriotic have other ways of displaying their love for the nation.
Now, cynics among us may dismiss all this as frivolous but we have to accept that Gen-next’s expressions of freedom are very different. So we see clubs offering tiranga cocktails, saffron, green and white dishes. We see merchandise on offer from quirky t-shirts to bracelets in the three colours.
Yes, even this most important of days has been commercialised but the same people who are lapping up these products also revere Bhagat Singh, Gandhi and Nehru.
So it is clear, while there is grave disillusionment with the political class, it is the faith in the future of India as a vibrant democracy on the path to economic superstardom that has enthused the young. That perhaps is the greatest gift our founding fathers gave us, an India in which, warts and all, we still have an enormous stake and pride.
It is perhaps because of this unifying factor of faith in the country that India has withstood all manners of assaults on its sovereignty and integrity. And it has challenged a political establishment which has so often let it down.
While several activists speak of freedoms being curtailed, we’d like to look at the many add-ons we have got over the years. We have the Right to Information Act for one, we have a hyper-active media, we have a vigilant civil society.
Today, the powerful may still get a long rope but eventually they are made to pay as the rapidly growing numbers in Tihar jail show. A fairly deep streak of conservatism also seems to be a common trait among the young. It is still ‘mummy and daddy know best’ for a majority of young people, whether it is choosing a life partner or lifestyle choices.
An astonishing 49.8% even felt that parents could go through their text messages if they were footing the phone bills.
So there you have the future of India, deeply patriotic, rooted in family values, respectful of those who fought for our freedoms.
What more could we ask for? Happy Independence Day.