Fortunately, the news from India has also been elevating. When young people of diverse faiths march together, Hindus and Muslims arm-in-arm behind our national flag, rejecting artificial divides stoked by political leaders for their own gain, they show that the spirit of our constitution still burns brightly. When officers of the administrative service resign their dream jobs because they do not believe they can serve in good faith, they are living testimony that the sacrifices made by the generations that got us freedom still inspire emulation. When an Election Commissioner carries out his duties impartially despite the harassment it brings upon his family, he asserts that integrity has not been completely cowed. When some members of the media work tirelessly to get the truth out even as their colleagues succumb to government pressure, they demonstrate what it means to be a dutiful citizen of the Republic. And when a Bollywood actress registers her silent protest by meeting with the victims of the attack on JNU, even though she puts attendance at her latest movie at risk, she inspires us all to take stock of what is truly at stake.
One has to be truly cynical to not be moved. These people show through their actions that they think truth, freedom, and justice are not merely lofty words, but ideals worth sacrificing for. It is they who are fighting today for India that Mahatma Gandhi gave his life for. It is they, who never marched to win freedom, but today march to preserve it, who give us hope that Rabindranath Tagore’s dream …“into that heaven of freedom, My Father, let my country awake” … will continue to be a reality.
The 26th of January marks the 70th anniversary of the day India gave itself a constitution, full of ideals and liberalism. Our constitution was not perfect, but it was crafted by learned men and women who had come through the horrors of a fratricidal partition and sought to create a more united future. They understood that India was capable of much good, but could also unleash terrible self-destructive forces, something some of our current leaders would do well to understand. So they drafted a document that attempts to draw out the best in us in a spirit of common purpose and pride. What better resolution for the new decade than to re-dedicate ourselves to ensuring that this spirit burns strongly in each one of us? In these troublesome times, let us work together to make India that shining example of tolerance and respect that our founders envisioned, a beacon once more for a weary world. Let that be our task for the new decade.
The article was first published on LinkedIn. Views expressed are personal.