Public as leader in a republic

By: T S Haokip NorthEastToday I 26th January 2020
‘Please dress your child as Pt. Nehru and teach him a few lines for the Republic day celebration,’ reads a note from my Son’s school. I am delighted, not because my son is chosen to represent the First PM of the country, but because my son will celebrate Republic Day from his kindergarten days. I was not as fortunate as him; we did enjoyed the holidays but Republic Day then and there meant bandh and boycott calls from various militant groups. I am not against that boycott nor do I profess my support for the same. Political environment so warranted the consequence, it could be. Many communities in the North East then aspired for Independence. The endeavours do not cease and desist but many organisations are on talks with the Government and at least the people can now forget all their inhibitions and beat the drum on this auspicious day for the people of India.
The celebration of Republic day was one that I found mystifying, during my childhood. ‘Why not celebrate Independence Day and Republic Day together on 15th August?’ was a question I’d asked myself often. Independence day as the word suggests is explainatory in its meaning and needs no detailed lecturing. My curiosity was on the reason for the celebration of Republic Day. The hunt for its significance made me fall in love with the founding fathers of Independent India. The fact that our founding fathers took a strenuous 3 years 11 months and 17 days to complete our constitution, which gave us the rights we enjoyed today and most importantly which would paved our way to be a nation headed by an elected representative is indeed worth applauding, honouring and respecting at the highest level. I’d later learned that there are various countries, which are independent nations but under monarchy. What worth is independence, when we don’t have a say in who governed us?
Imagine a scenario after independence, the constituent assembly decided India to be ruled by a head selected from the kings of princely states? Would we be able to enjoy the freedom we enjoyed today under that head of the country? The answer to these questions notwithstanding, we will then have many things to worry other than our rights and freedom. Thanks to Republic day, some of us if not all, can now look at the head of the country and say, ‘we made you seat there.’
Does being a republic necessary makes a country loved by its citizens? The Democratic Republic of North Korea holds regular elections and elects its president. But it is not a secret how people are deprived of their basic rights in the region. It is an open-secret how they usually elect their supreme leader. On the contrary, England is governed by a system of monarchy but the citizens enjoyed the rights and freedom; one among the best in the world. May be, these two cases are exceptional on their own but the point is to highlight the facts about different sides of Republic.
It is not just important that the head of the nation is elected by the people. What is more important is the process to which the people selects their head. The constitution provides that roadmap. It is thus worth remembering and honouring the Constituent Assembly and its Constitution Drafting Committee, especially Dr. B R Ambedkar. While many have complaints about the Sacred book of India being a voluminous book of copy and paste works, I belong to that school of thought who believes in replicating good things done by others and not loathe it just for the simple reason that it is something, somebody has already done it before. And the idea with which we chose Britain’s parliamentary form of governance, yet again, is not ironic to me; rather a masterstroke. Also, while some debated on the form of governance which could have been better for India, I have no second thoughts in hailing the Constitution Drafting Committee of Independent India as a true champion for the simple yet phenomenal fact that I could elect the head of the nation as per my own choice. If I am allowed to be swayed by different factors to vote against my will, it surely is not the fault of the founding fathers.
As we celebrate republic day and as we remember the founding fathers, let us also take time to think about the people; us. In our Seventy-one years of choosing who will govern us, have we justified our solemn rights to choose the best leaders? If poverty prevails, if unemployment increases, if lawlessness exists, it is none but only us, the citizen of Republic India to blame. Further-more, we can pat ourselves if we feel the leaders we have chosen have faired well. We can make or mar the Nation. We, the public are rulers in a Republic. Happy Republic Day!

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