At midnight, India will have been, for the books, a sovereign, democratic and socialist republic for 63 years. Not really, though.
We in India seem to have a habit of venerating symbols of our oppression in the past – by preserving monuments that our colonisers built to honour themselves (did you know, for example, that the Gateway of India in Mumbai was built to commemorate the arrival to India of then newly crowned George V?)
The people we choose to govern us run our government out of the same buildings that the British used. Why does the Prime Minister, every Union minister, and the members of parliament of a country which is poor enough to not have a middle class need to live in huge bungalows? (You know, apart from that the British rulers of India built themselves great big houses in India too.) We even seem to have taken over the role of the oppressor from the British. The police in India treats the people it is meant to protect with utter contempt, for example; just like the police treated Indians when we were under British rule.
The Commonwealth Games that are currently in the news because of the epic mismanagement of money, men, material and time, are the best example of this. (I won’t say epic scale of corruption. This scale of corruption, we all know, goes on most of the time. These idiots just got caught. Perhaps the amount of money was considerable, too, in this case.) I disagree, as does Mani Shankar Aiyar, I think, with the very idea of the Commonwealth, a group of countries with the distinction of having been screwed over by the same alien occupying force.
Not only are we committed to this group of former colonies, our government is also apparently prepared to sideline almost everything else to see that the Games go on unhindered. That the Delhi Government basically curtailed public protest and threw out hundreds of thousands of people for their crime of being poor is well known.
It turns out that the Delhi govt. has also been siphoning off money from every other avenue and putting it into CWG 2010 (or perhaps into the pockets of those running CWG 2010?) – wages of MCD workers, pensions of retired government employees, money for institutions of culture and arts, money for SC/ST welfare, the Delhi Metro; you name it, the Delhi govt. seems to have taken away money from it and put it into making CWG 2010 as chrome-plated (you know, plating that will come off the day the curtains draw shut) and as poor-free as possible. Lest visitors to our great nation see our poverty.
Independence cannot merely mean a government made up of people from the same geographical location, can it? Surely freedom is deeper than waving around multicolour flags and singing anthems one day every year? Independent India was a dream for some of the greatest men and women this land has produced.
Yeah, right. Dream on.