Prez shows the way | india | Hindustan Times
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Prez shows the way

In the midst of pop patriotism in overdrive, Prez Kalam's R-Day speech truly shows the way to shine, writes Vijaya Sharma in India Diary.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2004 21:40 IST

The Republic Day, when most of the establishments and offices are closed, also becomes a day of parade for those civilians who do go to work - like we journalists. The entire route from where the magnificent parade passes, India Gate and Rajpath to Purani Dilli is cordoned off for security reasons and so also are all direct and adjoining bus routes close to the parade route. So, buses travel only halfway and the rest is to be trudged. You are lucky if your place of work happens to be close to where the bus dropped you off, otherwise one has to go through the whole rigmarole of finding connecting buses.

But no one minds the route diversions. People will talk and discuss lustily about it, but hardly complain. After all, it is for Janury 26.

The roads spilling over with colour and noise on weekdays are sparsely populated today, but you are sure to hear popular patriotic songs echoing all around while police patrol the streets till well into noon time. Some of the popular songs playing are, of course Kavi Pradip's immortal Ae mere watan ke logon, Kaifi Azmi's Kar Chale Hum Fida Jaan o Tan Saathiyo from Haqeeqat, Mera Rang De Basanti Chola from Shaheed and the number from our times which is a big hit is AR Rahman's version of Vande Mataram.

It is patriotism full blast on TV channels, too. There are special packages being planned by channels. One goes by the name of Sarzameen special. Other movie fixtures on TV channels screened dutifully every year are the noisily patriotic Dilip Kumar-starrer Karma, JP Dutta's Border, Aziz Mirza's Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani and Mani Ratnam's Roja. Border has become a Rebublic Day/Independence Day anthem for TV channels and is screened ad nauseum every year like Richard Attenborough's Gandhi was, once upon a time, a must on all days related to Mahatma Gandhi. So much for imaginative programming!

In years to come, it is not difficult to predict which patriotic Bollywood masalas will dominate TV screens on R-Days: LoC Kargil, The Hero, Sarfarosh, Gadar. Even prominent hotel chefs have come up with special R-Day dishes such as Chicken Republic and Indiana Cones, Trio Panacotta - all dipped in the tricolours of the Indian flag.

Papers are splashed with full page advertisments. India shining, says a proud BJP-led government and Amul butter's topical take on India Shining is India Dining. In the midst of this pop patriotism, and India shining, wining and dining, President Abdul Kalam's R-Day speech has stood out as a significant departure from tradition.

His attempt is a critical pointer to the fact that there is more to be done than just cosmetic makeovers to get India to shine at all levels. India should shine not just at the upper layer where the rich clutter to cast their glow but those rays of hope should be able to cut through and illuminate the middle and lower segments of society, too.

President Kalam has made 100 youth take 10 pledges on R-Day. Some of the pledges are:

- They will educate 10 children each
- Plant at least 10 saplings and ensure their growth
- Visit rural areas and wean 5 people away from addiction and gambling.
- Will not support any religious, caste or language differentiation

Small, achievable targets. And necessary if the whole of India is to be made a part of Developed India Vision 2020 and Mera Bharat is to be truly Mahaan.

Imagining a better world

A recent exhibition in the capital New Delhi, "Imagine", put together by a Berlin-based journalist brought together 500 children and young people from 45 countries who took photographs showing how they live - some students, some housemaids, some fruit sellers, all of them non-professionals but they all show the ability in children to survive even the toughest circumstances and yet return a smile. The hope stretches all over - from Nepal to South Korea to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Bettina, a photograpy student from the American school in Delhi who had come to see the exhibition was mesmerised by the photos. She said: "At first, I didn't even know that the photos were made my people my age. I was mesmerized by the many interesting images, especially the colorful ones, like the photograph taken by Moav Vaadya, from Israel. It depicted three young children jumping on a trampoline. It was, to me, hopeful; an indication that life goes on, even in a place as war-stricken as Israel."

India's entry showed a young girl teaching in a rural school and asking: "Why is it that education is not available to all of us?" Log on to their website to see more pics: www.imagine.gtz.de

We need to ask these questions more fervently and more frequently. We need to ask how can a nation move ahead if a majority of its children are uneducated and are being left behind in the race.

In J&K, a fair deal for the fairer sex
A landmark judgement in Jammu and Kashmir will change the future for women in the state and the protection of their rights as a state subject. For 25 years women in the state have been fighting to be recognised as state subjects.

Now the court has ruled that a girl-child born to a state subject will no longer be treated as a non-state subject after getting married to a person not having the status as that of her parents. Her constitutional status as a state subject will remain unaffected unless she herself decides to snap this link. Now such women will have the right to property inheritance, government employment, etc, like their male counterparts.

And to close with a whodunit...
It is a royal puzzle open to all from all over the world. The mystery stems from Hyderabad. An old wooden cabinet in the Nizam's Museum at Purani Haveli has been an object of curiosity and debate. Nobody knows what it is or for what purpose it was used.

"Do you recognise what this is? If you have any knowledge or a sound idea please let us know. We would be delighted to hear from you," screams a signboard at the museum.

Some cabinets in the museum have the stamp of the sixth Nizam who died in 1911. So that is one clue to the period it belonged to. But apart from that it has all visitors foxed as to what purpose it was used for since the past four years when the museum was opened. The antique beauty is certainly a joy forever but certainly does not have to remain a mystery forever.

Any budding sleuths out there, or experts on antique furniture who would care to throw some light on the matter?