As children growing up in the 80s, we woke up early every January 26 to watch the Republic Day parade. This year too, the parade happened, but on Kartavya Path. The government, deciding to shed the symbols of the Raj, not only renamed the boulevard last year, but also replaced the statue of King George V with Subhash Chandra Bose’s under the India Gate canopy.
We pretend that the emperor has new clothes, but continue to be part of the Commonwealth (the games are just a distraction) under the watchful eyes of the late Lilibet and now, the new King. In fact, India is the largest member of the Commonwealth and the fourth-largest contributor to its budgets.
On January 26, 1950, when the Constitution was adopted, Dr Ambedkar had a Nostradamus-like epiphany when he predicted, “We are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics, we will have equality, and in social and economic life, we will have inequality. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life?” No truer words had been said. Have we been reduced to a soul-less republic behind a smoke-screen of PR and all is well?
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The Preamble presents the principles of the Constitution as:
We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India (we are jolly good till here) into a:
Sovereign: There is internal and external sovereignty. We may be an independent country, but we choose to remain under the Commonwealth.
Socialist: Here the interpretation is that since wealth is generated socially, it should be shared by society. A recent Oxfam study reported that billionaires in India increased from 102 (2020) to 166 (2022). Since the pandemic, their wealth surged by 121 percent per day.
Secular: Let’s just say we are, or else this article will be labelled propaganda.
Democratic: We, the people, adhere to the principles of democracy, but our politicians often make a mockery of it when they are ‘won’ over and jump ship. As per an RTI, 19 lakh EVMs remain missing since 2018. Recently, the Centre blocked tweets sharing the BBC documentary critical of the PM.
Republic: Nothing to report on this, apart from the pandering journalism of a namesake channel.
The Preamble also guarantees liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship. Last month, we saw churches vandalised in Mysuru, Chhattisgarh and Mumbai. In October last year, a mob in Gurugram attacked people offering namaz and vandalised the mosque.
It provides for equality of status and opportunity, but NSS data from 2017-18 shows caste discrimination accounted for 70 percent of the difference in employment levels of SCs and high castes in certain jobs.
Fraternity is promised, but we have been divided on lines of bigotry and hate. Last November, a Dalit man was beaten to death over drawing of water from a tubewell in Jodhpur; another met a similar fate for plucking guava from an orchard in Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh.
So, let us shed all the pomp and strip away the jingoism. Are we truly adhering to the promises that the fathers of our Constitution built this nation on? Are we truly Indian at heart? Or are we hypnotised rats following the Pied Piper to our doom?
Author, actor and standup comic