Republic Day commentators, take a bow. It is an art to be able to make the somnolent procession floating down Raisina Hill sound like the Mardi Gras. As you read this, you are probably watching the microcosm of the republic as encapsulated in a series of floats, each more aesthetically challenged than the other. So, there will be the village belles from Rajasthan, a Kerala tourism brochure gone mad, the intellectually inclined Bengal offering, the gay abandon of Punjab and the tribal glories of the northeast, to mention a few. Has all imagination fled that we need to see this celebration of India through the prism of the films division?
If we can force ourselves to get away from concentrating all our patriotism on the promenade stretching from the viceregal ramparts to the emotive environs of India Gate, we should be able to celebrate our republic anywhere. So, why shouldn’t this day be one of a billion festivities all over the country? We should allow people to get a real taste of our smorgasbord of cuisines, our resplendent textile heritage, our energetic regional film industry, our unmatched arts and crafts, we could go on. These could be in different places and you could pick and chose which you want to sample. There is a certain je ne sais quoi to seeing the jets screaming overhead and the mighty tanks rumbling down which arouses the machismo among many of us. And we can live with that.
But if we could use this holiday to dispel stereotypes as depicted in the hideous tableaux, we would be doing a great service to the notion of the republic. So let us not oppress a hapless foreign dignitary to look on bewildered as we try to unveil an India which exists only in the fevered imagination of babudom. Try and make the best of this holiday, after you’ve sat through the fearsome floats. And we do hope you will have as much fun today as we did writing this.