The Many Shades of Republic

    25-Jan-2021
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Through its many ups and downs, Bharat has always proved its naysayers wrong. Even while combating the pandemic, the BJP Government is facing agitation of farmers, who have been misguided by the Opposition
 
-Rajgopal
 
 
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Bharat will be celebrating its 72nd Republic Day this January 26. The journey has been as colourful as its Tricolor. One cursory look at the journey and one’s heart is filled up with pride. A country which was barely able to feed its citizens is nowadays the largest producer of many food items in the world. But this glorious journey has not been without its challenges. The country witnessed the dark phase of the Emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The freedom was curtailed. Nearly all prominent Opposition leaders were jailed.
 
Many Westerners opined that Bharat would not survive its freedom for too long. The bloody episode of Partition also fuelled such thoughts. But the country not just survived, but also progressed.
 
Making Ram Temple a Reality
 
Looking back from here one could not miss the many misses. The Republic took more than 70 years to correct the injustices of more than four centuries. A Bhavya Ram Mandir in Ayodhya became a reality only in 2020. Many attempts at negotiations were snubbed by the Muslims.
 
Four recent events provide a wonderful microcosm to understand the challenges and opportunities facing the Republic: Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens protests, protest against Tandav web series, farmers’ agitation and the global pandemic. The country was just on its feet after a global recession when it was hit by the pandemic. The world came to a standstill. More than 20 lakh people lost their lives across the world. Economic activities were disrupted. The vaccine development took more than a year. The first vaccines were made in the US.
 
Giving his perspective, scientist Dr A Ranganathan, while speaking to Organiser, said, “We did tremendously well in manufacturing vaccines. But we could have been the first country in the world to develop it.”
 

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Ayurveda Knowledge Unutilised
 
Completely indigenous vaccine, Covaxin, developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, has got the emergency use authorisation. Covishield, another vaccine, is being developed by Pune-based Serum Institute of India. It has been developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. Ranganathan believes Bharat committed a big mistake by moving away from its roots. The country has a rich knowledge and tradition of Ayurveda but it was pushed under the carpet.
 
Artemisinin, an anti-malarial drug, was discovered in 1972 by a Chinese scientist Tu Youyou. It’s a plant derivative. Youyou was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2015 for her discovery.
 

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Saving Beleaguered Communities
 
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Government, after securing successive victories under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, amended the Citizenship Law to help the persecuted communities from neighbouring countries.
 
However, this noble gesture was advertised by vested interests as an attempt by the government to isolate the Muslims. It was also falsely propagated that the plan was to take away Bharatiya Muslims’ citizenship. Subsequently, there were massive protests across the country. Delhi also witnessed anti-Hindu riots. Every attempt was made to disrupt the communal harmony of the country.
 
Even before the country started vaccinating its citizens, farmers started protesting near Delhi, demanding repeal of the just passed three farm laws. The laws promised liberalisation of the agriculture sector.
 
Surprisingly, Opposition parties that today are supporting farmers’ protests had all promised the very same laws at some point in their respective manifestos. Constitutional expert and former Lok Sabha secretary Subhash Kashyap told Organiser, “Such protests are only going to increase in coming days. It’s a common knowledge that these protests are being managed by the anti-national forces.” Ranganathan opined that the biggest challenge for the Prime Minister would be to stick to these reforms as they’re very much needed.
 
Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, while delivering his concluding speech in the Constituent Assembly, had said the thing which worried him the most was the possibility of Bharat losing its freedom. And he thought this would be a possibility if political parties and institutions put their interests above country’s interest. There is a lesson for vested interests here.
 

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Challenges Before the Republic
 
There is no sphere of life which has been left untouched by technology. Entertainment is no different. The easy availability of mobile handsets and internet data has fuelled the popularity of on-demand video platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Voot, etc.
 
It has democratised the entertainment industry. But it is presenting another set of challenges for the Republic. Many of these platforms offer shows full of vulgarity and simplistic presentation of complex social problems. Senior journalist and film critic Anant Vijay feels there is a pattern in the way videos are being created and shared. He told Organiser, “These days, the entertainment on these platforms is being used as a political tool. An attempt is always made by a section of the industry to keep fuelling anger among the Muslims against the current dispensation.” He feels regulation is urgently needed for OTT platforms.
 
But it remains a reality that through its many ups and downs, Bharat has always proved its naysayers wrong. Kashyap feels Bharat’s Constitution has stood the test of time. Theirin lies our hope. The hope of the Republic.