Things you won't find about India in PM Modi's Independence Day speech
Don't let the stream of live coverage fool you into wasting your time with someone else's 'fact-checks'. It's your Independence Day, reclaim it.
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Statistics about human growth confirm that age is not a number, it's just a state of mind. This concept is only growing with these changing times. But the one thing that isn't growing is the growth of the state — the state that we live in — and how we don't understand it without statistics.
Every August 15, we start out with a wish list — a 'sarkari' dream about a 'sarkari' India, as envisioned by those who run the 'sarkar' of the day.
It doesn't normally tend to change hugely from year to year — announcement of sops and achievements, each year, the claims growing loftier. If the future is difficult to predict, what is easy to anticipate is the monotony of Indian politics. There is one more extremely predictable aspect — the way it gets covered by media.
Seventy one years of the repeated onslaught of an idea called 'news', the way news about a sarkar and its functioning is written, covered and broadcasted. From being completely at the mercy of a state broadcaster to the proliferation of private channels and hi-tech TV newsrooms swarming with suave anchors, India has come a long way, but only if we see it through the lens of TV cameras.
When your love for your nation doesn't need a 'sarkari' stamp. (Photo: India Today)
On the eve of India's 72nd Independence Day, many in the media are working full time to show their job-worthiness — from how a certain Mr PM has brought his signature style to the Independence Day speech to what to expect from this year's speech. Whether it is going to be more about politics and less about policy? Whether he has fulfilled what he had claimed last year? If he has completed projects before deadlines or achieved more than what he had promised?
Another cause of worry seems to be how long the PM is going to speak for — is it going to be longer than his predecessor and his predecessor? How well is he going to dress for the occasion — a Rajasthani safa or an 'outlandish' headgear?
Also, trending on Google is the news of when and where to watch PM Narendra Modi's speech on Independence Day. Wasn't it supposed to be on DD? And all other news channels? And on social media? And, maybe, at the Red Fort? No?
Well, this year, the Prime Minister's speech will go live on Google and YouTube.
Why? Because Prasar Bharati wants to give the event greater visibility, both in India and abroad. It means the speech will be live-streamed on the Google homepage. Apparently, Google had done a similar thing during US President Donald Trump’s inaugural address in January last year. So, basically when you go to Google home page and search for Independence Day, you will see the live streaming of the PM's speech.
And we thought August 15 is about us — our independence, our freedom, our celebrations.
But since we all love surprises, let us surprise ourselves by guess-covering how ordinary Indians, not too far away from the "ramparts" of the Red Fort, would celebrate this Independence Day.
7.30 AM: Indians, in all likelihood, will wake up to August 15 as any usual day. Grab their morning cup of tea and newspaper. Some will bother to wish each other Happy Independence Day. Well, old habits die hard.
While Mr Prime Minister will deliver his final I-Day speech, in his current term as PM, at the Red Fort, many will be clearing the mound of dishes from the previous night dumped in the sink.
9.30 AM: A "breadfast" (no, that's not a typo, because that's the only constant about the middle class Indian breakfast now, holiday or not) with family. And everybody goes back to their room to attend to their own miseries.
1.30 PM: A quiet lunch — what they call a boring dal-chawl meal laced with harmful-to-digest family chit chat. If you are lucky (read a Bengali), a good afternoon nap (normally, the Bengali nap stretches for so long that it can be easily renamed Napier, never mind).
5.30 PM: A hot cup of coffee and snacks.
Love thy freedom. Gulp it down. (Credit: Twitter)
7.30 PM: Nothing. Life is not Breaking News and your home is not a TV studio. So, don't expect news tickers every 15 minutes. If anything, break the goddamn monotony.
10.30 PM: Back to bed. The rest of the evening and dinner, in particular, was not worth mentioning. So we might as well skip it. In any case, 73 million Indians go to sleep on empty stomachs. And no amount of live-streaming or "my-government-did-better-than-that-government" and homilies and hopes can change that reality.
Happy Independence Day.
We still love this country and will continue to do so — because the country belongs to its people, and not the people who rule them.