HYDERABAD: August 15 the day we celebrate India’s freedom from the British, the day we show our love for our country and the day (apart from Republic Day) most of us feel patriotic.
While we are caught up with our daily grind and make time to reflect upon the sacrifices of our jawans and the fight that our freedom fighters put up, for some, being patriotic is their way of life. Ahead of the 75th Independence Day, we speak to the real heroes about their sacrifices and the people who have witnessed pre-Independence India.
Nawab Najaf Ali Khan, the grandson of H.E.H late Nizam VII of Hyderabad Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan and the son of late Prince Hasham Jah Bahadur, recollects how Hyderabad was during the pre-independence era and how the city has changed now. “Before Independence, Hyderabad was one of the best States in all aspects.
It had all amenities of its own and was truly an independent State — a well-functioning transport system with its own railways, airways, roadways, thermal power stations, world-class universities which admitted students from all religions, castes and creeds, etc. Hyderabad, under my grandfather’s rule, was the most well-governed and prosperous State of pre-independent India. Today, it has become fast-paced where there is no harmony among people of different walks of life. Religious intolerance towards other faiths, harbouring of enmity between communities which is encouraged by politicians — all of these make today’s Hyderabad vastly different from what it used to be in my grandfather’s time,” he says.
For Najaf Ali Khan, the concept of patriotism has changed over the years. “Times have changed; different people have different perspectives about patriotism. Patriotism means loyalty towards your motherland and being compassionate to the people you share this beautiful motherland with. My family has ruled this land for more than 200 years, and patriotism to me is ensuring that the work and efforts of my grandfather don’t go in vain.”
Every defence personnel in the country lives their life based on the Chetwode Credo. ‘The safety, honour and welfare of your country comes first always and every time. The honor, welfare and safety of the men you command comes next. Your own ease, comfort and safety comes last always and every time.’
Col Tarun Kumar, who had volunteered to go to the Siachen glacier for Operation Meghdoot as the observation post officer (OPO), lives by the Chetwode Credo. “Every dictionary defines patriotism as one’s love and devotion to the country. To us, in the uniform services, especially in the armed forces, this is the very ethos on which we have been brought up. This exactly what the Chetwode Credo is based on. Most people talk about patriotism on August 15 and January 26. All of a sudden faujis are remembered and when a soldier’s mortal remains arrive in the city, they raise slogans,” he says.
But patriotism, Col Kumar says, comes naturally. “It is the environment that creates this upbringing. The goodness of people gets suppressed because of the surroundings. The younger generation will not follow us till such time you do something good. As a commanding officer, your lonely at the top, you need to make important decisions. But at the end of the day, were my decisions for the people’s good or worse? That’s all that matters.” Speaking about what is freedom, he says: “You have to work for yourself and that is where your freedom lies. When you are strong, you become an inspiration and that’s where your journey of growth begins. Find your own pace and that is what freedom, liberation and empowerment are.”
Aparajita Acharya, the daughter of late Major Padmapani Acharya, was raised by her mother alone. Based on the stories her mother told her about her father, she had penned a coffee-table book, Our Babloo, The Hero of Drass. Aparajita does not believe in chasing an ideal abstract definition of ‘patriotism’. “Patriotism to me is a non-negotiable aspect of my life; a feeling and duty I owe to my nation that has given me so much. I believe a lot of us question the smallest, harmless gestures of patriotism, demanding a logic that raises the question of hypocrisy.
"Not everything in life needs scientific reasoning. We love our parents every day, yet we unapologetically voice it on corporate-invented celebrations such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. How are these celebrations any different than freedom over the years? We need to make a larger effort in reinventing the definition of our nation time and again. Let us be grateful for the good and constructively work towards betterment. Let this year be all about giving deserved credit, recognition, criticism and realistic goals rather than chasing an ideal abstract definition.”
Charulatha Acharya, wife of Late Major Acharya, lost her husband when she was pregnant with Aparajita. For her, patriotism was always about having a deep connection with her country.
“Whichever country you are born in, we call a country as motherland and we cannot point fingers at it. We have to be loyal to our country and not think about it only on specific days or occasions. We remember the sacrifices of soldiers and leaders on a few occasions only. The way we believe in our religion, we should have the same faith in our country as well. We should instill these values in our kids, talk to them about the sacrifices different people have made for the country to be independent. Not only during national celebrations, but we have to remember the essence of Independence always,” she says.