The doors of Noah’s ark seemingly open the week before January 26 each year judging by the wildlife on the Capital’s roads. As you make your way past assorted camels, elephants and horses, you cannot help but wonder if this incongruous display of animals and armoury is what the republic is all about. Does the State, powered by one of the fastest growing economies in the world, need this sort of Stalinist display of strength, once the pride of east Europe and the erstwhile Soviet Union? At last count, we thought the republic belonged to the people. But in these parades, the least consideration is the people who are hemmed in by massive security and can watch the proceedings from a distance.
For days on end, citizens have to endure delays in getting to work or elsewhere thanks to thoroughfares being shut. The sight of little schoolchildren sleepily performing at the show on a cold morning does nothing to warm the cockles of one’s heart about the glory of the republic. The State should not take it upon itself to demonstrate how to celebrate the wonder that is India. It should be left to us, the citizens, to do so. The format of the parade does nothing to convey how far India has come from the days when we pleaded with the world to take us seriously. In more innocent days, it was possible for people to get up close and personal with leaders. Now no one can get within shouting distance of any of them.
The State has its work cut out, and self-congratulatory parades are not a priority. If the idea is to elevate the mood of the people, to inspire patriotism, it hardly seems likely in the light of the scams, price rise and the general disillusionment that people feel with the custodians of the republic. So it’s time to put the fun back into Republic Day, but let the people decide how best to do it. Wishing you a safe and joyous Republic Day if you want to be part of the great Indian parade even though we don’t think we need an organised one.