Other than being a National holiday, 15th of August every year is the day when Indians, millennial, Gen Z and older generations wake up early on the rooster’s call and scouts up for parades and take their seats for the Doordarshan premiere of the Independence Day Celebration in the national capital as a family.
There is an amicable commemoration among every citizen of India this day, as we remember the glorious history of Indian Independence from British Colonialism. A sense of pure nationalism and patriotism rush through our bodies as we watch our Honourable Prime Minister arrive, hoist the national flag in the Red Fort and commence the day’s prestigious ceremony with 21 gunshots in the air to honor the monumental feeling every year.
Undoubtedly, a day to uphold and dwell with the sovereignty, fraternity, integrity, secularity, equality, liberty and justice that the Preamble and most Indian men and women who fought for you and me, back in time for more than 74 years with the only dream- Free India, Free Indians. A beautiful, momentous day to ponder about and live by, isn’t it?
The date and day had arrived, most of us are at home like olden days, prepared to watch the Independence Day program with our families yet again. The usual is here, omnipresent but there is a lot of unfamiliarity in the Indian atmosphere if you observe.
“Yes, PM Modi will arrive at the Red Fort foreground at 7:21 am and the Indian Flag will be unfurled by 7:30 am, the release of tricolor balloons and his eloquence would continue for 45 to 90 minutes approximately. There will be 32 soldiers and officers for the salute, 350 others from the Delhi Police standing with social distancing…”NDTV report, 14th of August, 2020
2020 has been a wonderful one day; the rest of it has been a series of unlikely events for the world and specifically, India. This year’s 74th Independence Day had been so different from what we were accustomed to visualizing, feel, and do religiously all these years.
Pandemic-the new normal
Not just New Delhi, across the country only small gatherings or no gatherings at all were allowed to honor this day and prevent community transmission of the novel coronavirus. Guestlist had been reduced to 120 from the basic 500 to 1000 invites. Surveillance was stricter with around 300 cameras around the Red Fort, New Delhi. Only 500 NCC cadets had been selected to parade.
Also, read: Wuhan Virus: A Challenge & Opportunity For India
No School Children and food stalls were permitted to operate in the open
There were online functions for the students conducted by some schools instead of 3500 children that gather in the foreground in yesteryears. And only sealed food packages were distributed among the guests in the Independence Day function areas.
Corona warriors were acclaimed for a special function in the Rashtrapati Bhawan
In Rashtrapati Bhawan, an “At Home” function was be held which had focussed on the ‘Corona warriors and frontline workers’ and they even sent invites to the medical workers.
Apart from security checks, there were intense testing for COVID-19
The security personnel who had been tested negative were only admissible for the duty in the Red Fort. Moreover, they would not be allowed to retire home except to attend rehearsals, while the domestic helpers, cooks, and drivers were kept under strict quarantine.
CAA and its ostracizing on secularism and fraternity
With the passing of CAB by the President on the 12th of December, mass protests had started around the country against the law that propagated ‘Muslim abandonment’ within the jurisdiction of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) till the strike of a novel coronavirus in the country.
There was a lot of religious commotion and discrimination, violation of Article 14 (Right to Liberty) that led to brutal police interference into JNU and Aligarh Muslim University. Students, minorities, and various social activists condemned the Government for violating the Constitution. The linguistic and demography of North East India was at stake which fuelled these CAA protests wildly.
Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid conflict
With the unanimous SC verdict to build Ram Mandir over the disputed site of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the chaos remains unsettled. The dispute had its root in 1885 and it continued with massive riots and lynching by Hindu and Muslim groups.
In between 1950 to 1970, four lawsuits were filed, and in 1992, the BJP Kar Sevaks led by Advani, Murli Manohar, Uma Bharti, etc. demolished the mosque with a death toll of 2000.
On the 9th of November, 2019 an alternate 5 acres of land was allotted for the Sunni Waqf Board for the mosque, and last week, on 5th of August, 2020 the foundation of Ram Mandir was laid down in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In spite of all these progress, the divide between the Hindus and Muslims seems to grow wider and intense. Uncalled atrocities upon innocent men and women in the name of religion have increased years after years putting a stop on ethics of Indian liberty and secularism.
Recent Bengaluru riot
A Facebook post ingrained with blasphemy about Prophet Muhammed led to riots in Bangalore four days ago. There were open firing of ammunitions, massive protests, and tear-gassing which killed 2 people, injured 3, and wounded almost 60 police officers.
Reports claim that it was the nephew of a Bangalore lawmaker and he had been arrested. India is losing its secularity in the hands of the ruling Hindu nationalist government, say the liberals.
Floods in Kerela, Bihar and Assam
These states have been grieving from the water havoc for months now and flood relief camps have been trying to rescue the affected one and control the scenario soon because infrastructures, agricultural lands, and animals have been destroyed on a large scale.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
The EIA 2020 drafting has been given an extension of 60 days for public feedback by Delhi High Court.
There have been claims against EIA that instead of safeguarding the environment the industries have been enjoying a monopoly on concessions, the stronghold of the government and bureaucracy than the public in the EIA process, inland waterways projects and expansion of highways through forest clearance, exemption of construction building projects with a built-up area up to 1,50,000sq.m, etc.
The opposition from the public is very loud and the government is criticized heftily.
Jammu and Kashmir Lockdown
Almost a year of Kashmir being under isolation since the ruling government scraped Article 370 and had split Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.
Once flourishing economy with ranking as the second-highest on non-tax and third on tax revenue, it is a complete mess now.
About 20% of the population is unemployed and this will aggravate when the government will grant domicile to others making them eligible for government jobs.
Internet inactivity has hampered the economy as well as the education of the students.
There has been a ban on public transport, curfew, and communication blackouts over the land that has further made life terribly unwell.
With total confirmed COVID-19 cases in India reaching 2.46 million, let alone Delhi with 149 thousand confirmed cases, the risk is too high for a traditionally grand celebration. The other states of the country are also fighting this battle simultaneously while the socio-psychological state of the people is not appropriate for mass gathering too. For the first time ever, India is following a low-key agenda for the Independence Day celebration.
“PM Modi delivered his seventh consecutive Independence Day speech and talked about ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ amidst the Pandemic, addressing the ‘corona warriors’ for their resolute dedication.”
“Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha hoisted the National Flag in Srinagar and ITBP Chief SS Deswal hoisted the same at Attari-Wagah border in Amritsar.”