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Importance of August 16

entertainment Updated: Aug 18, 2010 12:07 IST
Riteish Deshmukh

'At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom...' Almost every Indian knows these words spoken by the first Prime Minister of free India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to herald in 15th August 1947.

The day our motherland got its Independence. But, in sharp contrast, the very next day on the calendar, August 16 dawned quietly, unheralded and without any fanfare. Much like a younger brother living in the shadows of the achievements and accolades received by an elder sibling!

I often wonder year after year since that moment how much has this affected the self-esteem and confidence of this particular day! Is it content living in anonymity or does it too long for its moment of glory?

Is it jealous and vindictive or has it magnanimously accepted its fate? Is it hurt by the fact that its unloved and, in a way, is almost like the hangover that follows the next morning after the euphoria and celebration of the previous night!

Does it feel pained that it’s considered as a kill joy and a headache because it represents our return to the grind after the wonderful luxury of a national holiday? Does it forgive and graciously pardon us for treating it so badly? The answers to these questions can only be answered by the day itself. But the question is, does anyone care to ask the question? I guess that ‘someone’ is me!

For me personally August 16 is a sad reminder of the fact that all the flags that were so proudly and patriotically hoisted the previous day or displayed on vehicles will be found floating in the gutters or abandoned in the garbage by the side of the street.

It’s a rude wake up call to the hypocrisy that exists and lurks secretly in our hearts. It represents the callousness we show towards any day that is not deemed ‘holy’ or ‘special’ or ‘pious’ or ‘of historical importance’.

The days when we don’t think twice before abusing our freedom or taking our independence for granted. When we conveniently forget we are ‘Indians’ and allow caste and creed to dictate our actions. When we forget that by just celebrating and rejoicing on August 15 we don’t necessarily redeem our wrongdoings on the other days of our lives.

To be independent of greed, terrorism, violence and corruption we need to treat not only August 16, but each and every day of the year with as much love and patriotism as the day before. That’s when we as a nation will truly be free.

Read more Riteish Deshmukh columns