Of I-day pride and I-days past

Happy Independence Day to all of you!

As I sit in a faraway land and sip my Indian tea, I think about past Independence Days of my childhood.? They all dissolve in a blur of hoisting flags, collecting sweets and returning home early from school.

My parents’ generation must have actually seen the first Independence Day.? It was a day of great joy, I am told.? The streets were alive with people distributing sweets to strangers and crackers bursting everywhere.? In some parts of the country, it was also a time of great sadness as Partition claimed lives and separated families.

I-Day was never associated with such strong memories for me.? But there were other days that I felt a rush of nationalistic pride, of joy at having achieved something even if all I was doing was watching the news on television.

I searched through my memories for the earliest time in my life that I ever felt such an exhilaration. My first I-day like feeling, if you will.

It was the day that India had its first successful launch of SLV-3 carrying the satellite “Rohini”.?? That was the date (18th July 1980) that India joined the space traveling, satellite launching club of nations.

At that time, I was too young to understand why I could not see “Rohini” in the sky – I could see the Moon, which was also a satellite, right? But I was old enough to sense the achievement of being able to launch a satellite in the sky.

What is your earliest memory of a day when you felt such a gush of nationalistic pride?


16 thoughts on “Of I-day pride and I-days past

  1. I have actually never understood the concept of national pride. I understand pride in ‘doing’ but not in ‘being’.

    I did not do anything do be “born Indian”, did I? In my book, I can only rightfully feel pride in something if I have done something to make it happen. Otherwise I have appreciation, commendation and a lot of humility. From my own birth to the SLV-3, I did not contribute to these events to be proud of them. I do appreciate the achievements of the ISRO guys and realise how hard their lives must have been working with limited resources and commend their achievement too and find it all very humbling compared to my own life. But ‘pride’ is a different cup of tea.

    I suppose it doesn’t make any sense.. The last time I said, one reader at this blog (not mine) broke out in hives, or so it seemed from the rash of comments with increasing snark he kept posting. :-/

    Lekhni: There is pride in taking credit for things we have achieved, and then there is pride in belonging to something that is great, and greater than any individual.

    There are some things about our identity that we cannot change – like the color of our skin or our place of birth. Being born Indian is a part of who we are. That’s how I would like to look at it.

    The comments on this post so far have already made me realize I need to write another, longer post on this topic πŸ™‚

  2. Going to school for hoisting of the flag and singing the national anthem. I would wait for that fluttering feeling in the pit of my stomach, and it always came with the Jaya He. Our principal would always comment on how diverse we were, and it made me feel inordinately proud.

    Lekhni: We didn’t share the same Principal, by any chance? πŸ™‚

  3. There were various moments that made me proud as an Indian. I can list 3 of them not in any particular preference:
    1. ’83 World cup cricket victory
    2. Chevalier award for Sivaji Ganesan by the French.
    3. Oscar nomination for Lagaan.

    Lekhni: Personally, I think the Oscars are overrated! I’d look at them more as US awards rather than anything global. They are not really representative of international cinema, as they lump all “foreign films” as a single catch-all basket 😦 (In fact, the word “foreign” just shows how domestic their focus is).
    The world cup victory, though, was something πŸ˜€

  4. I loved Shefaly’s comment, though I would put it differently. I do not feel any pride in India’s independence, because I do NOT think it is a free country. It is merely free of British or foreign rule. We are oppressed by the parties and the governments at the state and the center.

    Lekhni: Oh, I didn’t mean pride in independence per se, I meant pride in being Indian/ of Indian origin.

  5. I was a little apprehensive about commenting on this but I agree with Shefaly and Rambodoc. I know that I have been instilled with this feeling about National Pride and all since childhood and National songs still give me gooseflesh but I know that its just something my heart is used to. But not my mind.
    I don’t understand how someone can feel proud about a piece of land. Sorry to put that so bluntly but I have always felt that I belong to Earth and not any piece of it.

    Lekhni: I agree that it’s an emotional feeling and not something one can analyze.
    It’s also not just about a piece of land, right, as I said to Shefaly, like it or not, it is about who we are, culture, history, language, food, color of skin and manner of thinking. You will take them with you everywhere.

  6. Pingback: In Dependence « Su

  7. Dont know about pride but I feel very happy to be born in a multi cuisine multi lingual and multi cultural country like India, whenever I have some tasty dish or celebrate some festival or travel to some place in India.

    Lekhni: That’s exactly what I am talking about πŸ˜€

  8. I think it is bit like loving some people (usually family) you have known forever, despite all their faults. Working with dryland farmers I can see exactly how wretched life in India can be. But when they sing the anthem with with such pride (as they did last year when I was in a village in Karnataka), I wonder if someone as privileged as I has the right to feel cynical about the country.

    Lekhni: That was a touching comment. It’s true, there are plenty of faults in India, many things that need to be changed, and we should recognize/ accept those issues and try to change them. But you are right, we really have no reason to be cynical about the country 😦

  9. Good post Lekhni and the kind that sets one thinking. But I would like to mention the Independence aspect first…being an army officer’s kid, patriotism was something we lived and breathed but from an entirely different angle. That of giving up one’s life. My great-grandmother was a freedom fighter and well have heard stories about here too. When I was a kid I sort of yearned to have been born then, so I could have been part of the freedom movement. Independence and freedom are almost synonymous for me Independence day itself means nothing much to me…except a day of parades and celebration of a day. I don’t really believe in days, but in everyday.
    About pride in being Indian, a hundred and ten percent!

    Lekhni: You have a very interesting perspective – army life + freedom fighter! Wow, I can see how that would make for a fierce patriotism πŸ™‚ You are right, Independence Day and Republic Day are more about the pageantry and celebration, patriotism and pride are everyday feelings.

  10. You know, I was talking about this to the Guy recently… I claim to be a rational person and I don’t really believe in patriotism in the sense of thinking your country is the best, but yet, when the national anthem plays, I feel this irrational surge of emotion…

    Lekhni: I can relate. It’s definitely a deep-rooted response πŸ™‚

  11. I second Unmana’s statement: every time I listen to the Indian national anthem, tears well up in my eyes, and my heart swells with an emotion I can only describe as nationalistic pride. It happens every single time, I have no control over my reaction.

    Lekhni: It’s strange, right, that we can live anywhere in the world and still feel that tug? πŸ™‚

  12. I have this feeling of joy surging through my stomach and having a strange feeling of weightlessness whenever i sing the Anthem, or listen to it intently. especially in the last few lines… other than that, i was proud of being an Indian whenever i see an achievement being tagged with an Indian or POIs… πŸ™‚


    Lekhni: The last few lines, yes, the Jaya He is almost martial and yet song-like. And yes, don’t we all look for desi names in the news πŸ™‚

  13. Lekhani, you did put it in simple words but they formed a post which made people think. Before putting my expressions here, I would like to say something more.
    On any occasion, I would have tried to explain Shefaly and Amit while arguing with some others. But something tells me that you will do it more diplomatically soon.
    For Shefaly, I will not break out in hives πŸ™‚ but still I can’t contain myself without saying a word. You said a very good thing. Pride is in “doing”. Now for a moment, leave the country aside. With meaning no harm to personal things, think, don’t you feel proud of “being” daughter of your dad when he is referred as Very Nice person(or something more)? Its a hypothetical example but see the meaning. You feel pride in *being*, even if you call it appreciation, its pride inside. Same thing will apply to your children (*). They will be proud of having you as mother even though they didn’t make it happen by their wish.
    You feel pride in doing because you are more of a practical person or I perceive you being one. Coming back to main point, as Lekhani said, *Being born Indian is a part of who we are.*
    Who are you? A Daughter! A Woman! A Wife! A mother! A Human! and an Indian……this identity is powerful enough to be written with all great others.

    It seems I have gone too far in telling you this, but really no harm meant.

    Amit, tera bhi time aayga bachchu!! πŸ™‚
    Lekhani, I hope u don’t ban people who write *posts* in your comments πŸ™‚

    Happy 62nd Year of Independence.
    Strictly No Sarcasm!!
    I feel shivers when I hear those songs. I feel like my blood running fast through my veins when I hear about Shee Shivaji Maharaj. My brain forgets all pain and worries when someone calls Jay Shivaji….and I reply Jay Bhavani!!!
    (No, I am not in shivsena not bajrang dal)

    Its just I am proud to be called son of this soil!!!

    Lekhni: I certainly don’t frown on “Posts” in comments – I have been guilty of that too often on other people’s blogs πŸ˜›
    That said, your comment was great and sounded very heartfelt. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    Since most of it was addressed to Shefaly/Amit, I will let them take it up if they want to πŸ™‚

  14. I remember marching in school πŸ™‚ I loved that. I felt I was doing something for my country then ( you can imagine how early in my life this was ;))

    Otherwise, am super emotional about India. I cry everytime I hear a partially patriotic song/line. And am not a person who cries much. So you can imagine πŸ˜› And coming to this country, I cry in joy at the Indian store and break into an impromptu dance πŸ˜€ while shopping for all those ghastly songs I’d NEVER listen to, back in India!

    Lekhni: Oh yes, I learnt all the patriotic songs in school too, and for all I know I still remember those lines πŸ˜€

  15. I was almost ten in August 1947: not old enough to grasp its larger significance. In later years the occasion was often marked with speeches: I remember giving two of those in 1956 and 57, at Osmania University.
    I can vividly remember the passion and promise of the first dozen years, when Nehru seemed to be India and India Nehru, before the nation got bogged down in what is sometimes called the license raj. I left India in 1960 but have followed developments there, combined with visits.

    Lekhni: Welcome back! Your account reminds of accounts I have heard from elders in India. I imagine it was a time filled with hopes and dreams of a better India, and the promise of great achievements. It sounds such a magical time now.

    I am also curious – by the time you left India in 1960, were you starting to feel disillusioned? What were your thoughts on India at that point?

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