Where has our self-respect gone?

Representing the dignity and power of our democratic ideals were men, machines and animals in precise step, formation and uniform...

Contingents from all defence and protection forces, military bands with swashbuckling leaders, delightful floats from far-flung corners and the mesmerising fly-past by those men in their magnificent machines developed our national pride in a way nothing else ever came close to doing. Respect for the Indian Constitution was writ large upon the face of every participant in the parade and echoed in the voices of every spectator as they cheered unreservedly for their compatriots.

But that was 50 years ago! While the parade is still thrilling to watch, it can no longer be seen as symbolic of national pride and integrity. The long-toothed among us have watched as the country’s gone down the tube into a sort of national drain with the Big ‘C’ being corruption in every walk of life earning us the dubious distinction of being one of the most corrupt countries on earth with our beautiful state of Karnataka being the worst within it!

Picture a few of our grimy realities today...tainted guns and generals that have robbed the military of its sheen; bullying and bribe-taking policemen who have made a mockery of erstwhile protection force; greedy traders who manipulate supply, demand and price at will; all of whom make so much money that the mint in Kolkata is almost out of business! As for our political leaders they’re in a league by themselves in the many ways in which they’ve covered themselves with shame and scandal… 2G, palmolien, denotifying land, food prices et all.

Shrill with self righteousness and holier-than-thou posturing even as they fling files at each other in full view of the citizenry! Need anymore be written? Not to forget the 2,400 nursing students who were made to cheat en masse by their college management who distributed pre-prepared answers along with the question papers.

Up to about fifty years ago, as Indians, we’d stood very tall in the unmatched heritage of our 5,000 year old civilisation, very sure of the beauty of our culture and authenticity of our integrity as we marched down through fifty centuries. No invader could conquer the Indian soul or difficulty break the Indian spirit over that long period of time. For the last few months, as evidence of ubiquitous corruption spills out relentlessly every day, I’ve been questioning myself as I’m sure millions of us do: what’s happened to our fine collective soul and spirit?

 Are we really cut from the same piece of cloth that our worthy ancestors had been cut out from? Where have the ways of honesty and self respect, of secularity and equality gone? To the index that says we live in one of the world’s most corrupt nations, perhaps I’ll add ‘most retro’ to that if just to make my point that we are in deep trouble. For here, in this day and age where on the one hand, calls are being made to increase the status of science and research to world class levels, on the other our leaders blame black magic when caught with their hands in the till. What’s more, they are being ‘advised’ to perform suryanamaskar in the buff to appease the gods and further, stay indoors until amavasya’s over to ward off the ‘evil eye’!

Anyway, though we live in the 21st century, as conscientious citizens, we must do our civic duty by showing our naked solidarity with our leaders and follow them into the ‘buff’ zone on an auspicious day and time for a buff parade on former South Parade and soon, all evil will be overcome and good will be restored for everyone …

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