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Jago India Jago!

By Sumanth Nepalli
January 26th, Republic Day. A day when the tricolored Indian flag flaunts its pride in 300 million square kilometers of Indian soil. Facebook profile pictures are going to be changed to soldiers hoisting the flag, statuses declaring that they are proud to be an Indian and are willing to die for India will fill our walls. Phones crammed with republic day messages with the emotional blackmail, “If you are a true Indian, forward this message to all your friends". Television channels show patriotic songs with AR Rehman and Lata Mangeshkar sharing the screen performing “Vande Mataram”. The whole nation looks up and salutes the flag. As “Jana Gana Mana” is sung, it instills zeal and enthusiasm; and the feeling that we can do anything for our motherland arises. Well, there are others who have better things to do than witness this ceremony. I, for one would be sleeping when the flag is being hoisted, thanking god that it’s a holiday, getting up at 12 o clock, going to the mess and hoping that there are special items for this special day. Many others share the same feeling as me. There are at least 2000 people in the campus and if all of them were to assemble on the ground imagine how stuffed it would get! But let’s hope that at least 200 people turn up and exhibit their patriotism.
What is the big difference between these two sets of people? I don’t think there is any at all. Both of them would forget about Republic Day by the 28th of January. Both of them wouldn’t get any more patriotic feelings until Independence Day when the ceremony is repeated again. Sure, a lot of people wish well for India from the bottom of their heart. All of us are pretty nationalistic and want India to develop and become a superpower. All of us want the corruption to decrease; we want a better ruling party, a better administrative system, a better India. But how many of us are really willing to take the responsibility to help be the change?
We Indians have a funny way of bearing responsibility. We throw it on the people beside us. Our favorite line of thought would be “who am I but one person? What difference can I possibly make? Why try for something that isn’t going to happen anyway?” But how many of us are willing to take the first step. How many of us are aware about the conditions in our country?
 Awareness is the first step to change. Many of us are above 18 years of age but how many of us have a voter’s card. How many of us know that form 6A should be filled and submitted to get a Voter’s Id. The funny thing is I know this fact because GMHC (Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation) was issuing ads advising people to get registered in the voter’s list which were being screened in movie theatres. Ironically the movie I was watching then was ‘No One Killed Jessica’, which emphasizes on the umpteen flaws in the administrative and legal machinery and what powers a common man has to change these. NOKJ hit screens on January 6th, 20 days before the republic day and is turning out to be an average hit at the box office. Why would people want to watch movies such as this which remind people that change is possible if desired, when there is the entertaining “realism” of Rajneeti which states that politics is all about hatred and murder and there is nothing we can do to change this fact.
Our favorite alibi for the backwardness of India: The government. The government is not doing this; the government is not doing that, as long as the government doesn’t change India’s situation is not going to improve. But who is going to change the government? Who has the power to change the government? 

We, the people. Yes...its clichéd I admit. But then every cliché is based on some truth. In a democracy particularly one in which the media is so influential, the common man is supposed to have power. Before we blame someone else, we should look at ourselves. Are we willing to change? Are we not making use of the flaws in the government to our benefit? I had recently applied for a driving license. If I went by normal governmental procedure, it would take me a minimum of three months. But if I applied through an agent who was going to bribe the officials I would get my license in less than one month. Unsurprisingly, I went for the latter because my hometown is not Hyderabad and I had holidays for only one month. I’m blaming it on the government’s lazy officials who are delaying the process but am I not using the corruption to my advantage? If given a chance, how many of us are not going to? We have a choice to stop this. We could do many things, like complain to the anti-corruption bureau but again the feeling arises “let someone else do it. Why should I get myself stuck into this mess? Even the ACB’s corrupt. Nothing is going to change anyways.

A Telugu movie ‘Leader’ which released last year concentrated on the corruption in India. It highlighted the thought train of a government employee. If he was a truthful hard working government employee who wasn’t taking any bribes, whom was he benefiting? Every other employee around him was corrupt and earning 10 times he was without putting in the effort. He would have a family dependent on him. After all, by being honest whom is he helping? To fill the pockets of illiterate politicians why should he sacrifice anything? In today’s times working honestly is a sacrifice in itself. If you were in his position would you react differently? Maybe right now, you have this idealist belief “I would never take a bribe” but when put in his position you, too, would think the way he did.

What I wanted to say was we need to look at ourselves before we point a finger at someone else. We need to share the responsibility for making India better. There was an awesome video I watched on television once in which a tree trunk breaks and falls on the road causing a traffic jam. All the drivers cuss at one another and start blaring their horn but no one tries to move the trunk until a small boy walks along and tries to push the tree. He is then joined by more kids and then eventually elder people, and finally they manage to move it. Let US be that change. Let’s be aware and voice our opinions. If we see any form of injustice let’s fight against it. I am not asking people to suddenly become politicians, but I would appeal for one thing. If a situation comes to you where you are to choose between right and wrong, stick to the right side. Let us try to be the kind of people who care about our country more than us.

Finally, on the way to my campus, we have to pass through many army residences. I look at the harsh training conditions the soldiers have to go through, the cramped up spaces they sleep in. These people have no means of recreation. They don’t have iPods to listen to songs, no computers to go online, no TV’s to watch movies. If this is the condition of soldiers here then what about the soldiers stationed in war zones such as Kargil. What inhuman conditions do they experience? Any amount of salary is not enough for them to survive those situations. These are the people who put their life on the line. They are the heroes, the people who are really ready to die for India, not us. They are the people who can proudly say, “I am willing to die for my country”.


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Let The Good Times Roll Magazine is an online youth magazine
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