[dropcap]R[/dropcap]epublic Day usually comes and goes without much attention from my generation. It is associated with floats and the army and occasionally with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pinstriped suit. I admit that I never looked past the actual parade to think about why we celebrated it at all.
However, since I turned eighteen, I have had to focus on what binds the people of this country together: our Constitution. So many of the landmark cases being heard today will affect my life as an Indian citizen. It has never felt more necessary to have my voice (as that of a young woman) heard. In my attempts to understand my future place in the functioning of the state, I found that the youth has very little room to participate.
As I learn more about the law, I realise how important the Constitution is to me now. I expect it to protect me from the state, from others and from the old, archaic customs and beliefs that used to rule India. Republic Day is a celebration of the sovereign Indian State and therefore the Constitution that gives it its power. Today, I realise how unfortunate it is that the youth doesn’t see the value of this celebration and the pride that it should inspire.
Our Constitution tells us that our voices are to be heard. It is not the failure of the Constitution, but our failure to be active participants that prevents our growth as a nation. This is not to say that participating will be easy, with all our views being termed anti-national and a time of great strife and inequality ahead, but we have no choice but to try harder. The document is designed to grow so that it can be tailored to the citizens of the present, not to freeze us in the past.
Though it allows us to retain our diverse cultures, it encourages us to adapt to the changing times. The dinosaurs still walk the Earth, older ideas still dominate and they cannot be expected to change on their own. We will inherit this country and it is our responsibility to ensure that it reflects our ideas and protects what we consider important. Our Constitution has been amended 124 times since 1950. That is the beauty of the design of our Constitution, we can shape it to express our present needs.
The Constitution dreams of an India where each citizen is guaranteed equality of opportunity and status, the right to a healthy life, the freedom to express their ideas, the freedom of conscience and one that doesn’t discriminate on any grounds. Though it is far away, we must work towards this dream, it is what we owe to the document that protects and nourishes us. We must acknowledge how far we have fallen. Every new generation should use Republic Day to reflect upon the Constitution and use their pride to fuel our country’s progress. This is what Republic Day means to me.