Tuesday, January 26, 2010
It's January 26th Again...
There is a lot made of Indian Independence day which is on 15th August--and is also incidentally my wedding anniversary, but that's another post. But India goes all out and I mean all out on January 26. There is a grand parade in the capital, major celebrations throughout for the 26th is surely something to celebrate. It was on January 26, 1950, three years after India gained its independence in 1947, that India truly became a nation. It was on this date that India formally adopted its own constitution and became a true republic, embraced its standing in the world as a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular Democratic Republic.
It was no longer a country in a limbo after the departure of the British, but a nation with its own constitution. Yes, it's a flawed one, and at 450 articles the longest in the world, but it is something all Indians, within the country or outside of it, should be proud. The constitution committee was headed by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, a member of the scheduled caste of India, yes, the people now called dalit and those in the West who go by the catchy moniker of untouchable. It was a huge step forward and an inspirational one.
And no matter that I still wonder at some of the foibles of the Indian constitution--the fact that we have one, and the fact that the world's largest democracy had managed to function as such (apart from a couple of emergency years under Mrs. G) in a volatile region (flanked by Pakistan and Bangladesh, with Sri Lanka at its southern tip) is remarkable.
Despite what other problems we have in India we are still a people who are governned by the people and that is no small thing in a nation as large, as diverse, and as populated as India. We the People....could there have been sweeter words at the end of our struggle against colonialism?
"We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, Social, Economic, and Political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship
EQUALITY of status and opportunity; and to promote among them all;
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do hereby ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION”
And so, yet again, I am proud and humbled to share my own birthday with the true birth of India's nationhood.
I've still never made it to the Republic Day parade in New Delhi but I just might one of these days. Jai Hind!