The magnificence of the Indian Air Force’s aerial displays, the awe-inspiring weapons systems on display, the competitive grandeur of the floats from the states, and the poignancy of seeing the families of the winners of the medals of valour –what would Republic Day be without those references? Everything about our Republic Day, right up to the uber-synchronised Beating Retreat is designed to impress and inspire the citizens. In comparison, Independence Day seems to be a much more functional, almost austere observance –why the difference?
Independence Day is an uncomplicated celebration of freedom – of becoming free from an oppression that, despite the 70 years that have passed, is still very personal to most Indians as we go about savouring that freedom in our everyday lives. The Republic Day challenge is how to get the people as excited or involved with the acceptance of a document, even if it is the very foundation of what makes India the nation it is? The citizens may choose to be less than excited about the workings of the government but the Republic Day displays offer stunning visual proof of what the country has achieved – a kind of report card of the country if you will. Could the purpose of all the ceremony be to join the citizens with the celebrations? Could the pageantry be an invitation to the people to become a part of the celebrations, to draw confidence from the display of our greatness as a nation? Could this be the public in the Republic Day?