In retrospect of our independence – We Matter
In the India of 1947, in the dusk of celebratory days, what did our predecessors see before themselves? Amidst the joy and the strife, the dawn of an era of nation building. Men and women of all ages, within their own realms of power, saw that they were at a cusp of history where they could be the architects of their own nation. No matter the arduous road ahead, the possibilities were immense and lay open to be ceased.
It is the 16th of August 2018. The 72nd anniversary of our independence has passed. And aren’t we bearers of the same power and responsibility for nation building as our predecessors in 1947? They wanted peace and prosperity, opportunity and equality. Do we want any different? Surely our responsibility must be no lesser than the generation that fought for our freedom. If at all, it must be more. Soon after Independence, it must have been easy to never let nation building out of sight. Today it is probably easier to forget that whether we know it or not each one of us is an actor in the life of our country.
To paraphrase the famous anecdote (whether true or not, immaterial) – When a janitor who swept the floors at NASA was asked by the President of the United States about what he did at NASA, the janitor is said to have replied – “Mr President, I am helping put a man on the moon”. This was in the 1960s, the years of America’s moon missions.
Whether one writes software or writes books, guards school gates or national borders, lays roads, builds bridges, cleans sewers, brings up children, makes music, cooks food, sets up industries or runs a kirana store – whatever one does for a living or for leisure – nothing goes waste.
If you ever drove past a red traffic light on your way to work, you helped build a nation where people endanger the lives of their fellow citizens to be only two minutes faster into the office door. You showed a child waiting for her school bus that if the police wasn’t about to catch you for it, it was okay to break the rules. You showed that it was okay to take benefit of the system but no onus for its upkeep. Everything that you do counts.
Why is PV Sindhu a national hero? It is because she does what she does with excellence. It matters that she aims for excellence and works towards it. It doesn’t matter that she loses sometimes. The janitor at NASA knew that if he didn’t do his own job well, it would have repercussions for the larger organisational, national, even world ambition.
On the road, in the office, in cinema halls and public parks, at historical monuments, in places of worship, on the playground and on social media, it is easy to underestimate the power we have. We make new year resolutions. How about a resolution for a new year in the life of our free nation? This year, let us take stock of our personal contributions to nation building. Let us not ask what a cog is to a wheel. Let us remember that we are the cogs that turn the wheel.