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Category: Independence Day

Reliving Old Ones

Till the time I completed my secondary school education, I have stayed in different places. To make it clearer, in my fifteen years of school education, my last school was the tenth one. Well, one may presume that I am jabbering but I have memories of different and equally wonderful places.

We were in Anantnag, a small town further from Srinagar, one of the most beautiful places for a kid to grow up. We had a huge Chinar tree in our garden; it covered the entire garden under it. Every autumn it would turn bright with golden, copper, brown and red hues. So if you lie down under it, you would see an orange sky of leaves with shimmering sunlight peeping through it and the green grass under you; the grass was usually cold, but one can adjust. The lawn had a very high fence; I couldn’t see past it even if I stood on my tippy toes stretching to my full height, which wasn’t much(my mother used to believe I would be a dwarf all my life. thank goodness her fear did not turn to reality.) My father had put up a swing on the tree branch, which was my prized possession. When I swung forward was the only time I could see past the fence and see what was happening outside.

Another reason it was a good place to grow up would be that there were no schools near my house and those nearby were shut because of the fear of shelling. It was 1998, the year Kargil started, so I had home schooling. Home schooling wasn’t that great a pain, security reasons and bandhs kept my teacher at bay. He was wonderful and kind – before every session I was given a huge, juicy, scarlet apple. I always felt that the apple twinkled at me. Mum used to tell me every time how I should be deeply grateful because the man was one of the few who had the privilege of studying and was teaching me to make money for his college.

For me, a 6 year old, my swing and the garden were far better a company to have than him. I remember it was 14th August and next day was a holiday, but while he was talking to father my instinct told me the holiday was a dream. What was more annoying was that the session would start at 8 sharp in the morning. The next day, we were in the garden and he told me to sit on my swing, I willingly agreed. After a while, I could hear humming sound, and it became louder and louder, coming closer to us. i held my swing very tightly and anticipated what was going to happen. My swing started moving to and fro. I rose higher and higher after every push, till the time I could see what was creating the noise. I saw a chain of Royal Enfield Bullets – I couldn’t count them, but they were a lot. Similar to the one my father had.
In a quick glance, I saw multiple flags attached to those bikes and the bikers were young men, similar to the teacher’s age. They were all smiling and holding the flag in their hands. The flags looked spectacular, in the wind were the national colours fluttering to the spirit of the day. It was a beautiful sight. I had never, in the six years of my life, seen the flag look so vibrant and full of life. Over the humming sound was my laughter, I was too happy and my teacher was brimming and smiling. Later he told me about how he and his friends from the college student union had organized this to motivate the youth, to want them to feel like being a part of educating themselves and believe in peace and harmony.

Years went by and I moved to Mumbai for my college education. All of this came back to me, when this Independence Day, me and few friends were looking for a story to cover for our Reporting assignment at Marine Drive. It was around 10:30 and I heard the same humming noise. It grew louder and louder and closer towards us. It had my full attention and this time I could count. There were more than five hundred bikers who went past us on their bikes. It was the same with flags fluttering and the bikers driving their Enfields. Only, this time, they were not just college boys but men of varied ages. To our surprise, there were women bikers as well. We stood there awestruck during the entire time as the bikers too seemed to be very attractive, like they knew the purpose of life and at that very moment it was to see the flag soaring, bright and vibrant. They passed us by under the bright blue sky, covering the queen’s necklace.
As usual, ‘the curiosity’ kicked in and I decided to find out who these bikers were. So after a few calls and a visit to Bandra , I found out that this was an anonymous group of bikers who rode from Bandra to Marine Drive on the occasion of Independence Day. There were a total of 800 bikers who covered this distance to show their patriotism. When contacted, Mr. Harshil who works at The Brand Store, Bandra service centre said, “This rally is conducted twice a year on both Republic Day and Independence Day. This year’s theme was saluting the Indian Armed Forces. We have been having these rallies for the past 9 years. We began this initiative in 2004.” He further added that the bikers unanimously come together for the rally; there is no fixed association/group who organizes it.

In the usual procedure the bikers generally start assembling by 8 am and by 9 am they start off. They cover the entire stretch in 4 hours from Bandra (west) to Gateway of India and back to Bandra (west) via Sidhivinayak Temple, Mahalaxmi, Pedder Road and Mantralaya. The rally is specifically for those who ride Royal Enfield bullets and instructions like security and safety were given in advance. A few rules that the bikers have to follow are that they have to drive in a two row pattern, no overtaking, helmets and licenses were compulsory and speed limit was set for 30 to 40 kms. The rally is their way to pay tribute to the leaders who fought for freedom. Well, surely I have something to look forward to for the republic day or maybe it is just old memories I plan to revive and relive or look forward to create new ones.




Here is a sneak-peak into the Independence day celebrations of a regiment posted at Pathankot, a small district in Punjab…

August 15, 2012 – India’s Independence Day, the day when India became a free and democratic country; the day she won a very long and historical fight for freedom against the British Rule. This day is celebrated even today in an attempt to pay homage to India’s brave and historic leaders who fought relentlessly for her freedom in the past. Be it a metro city like Mumbai or Delhi or be it a small city or district like Pathankot or Srinagar, Independence Day is celebrated with equal fervor and patriotism across the nation. The nation’s major buildings are decorated, flags are distributed on streets and institutions, patriotic songs are sung and the National flag is unfurled by the Prime Minister. And when it’s the country’s Army that is being talked about, how can they be any less? At 21 Sub Area ( a brigade unit posted in Pathankot, commanded by Brig. Raina), there was a similar scene.
The day started with a small ‘puja’ ceremony being kept at the army brigade’s main temple place, wherein all the army officers as well as the OR’s and jawans along with their families were present to pray and thank the almighty for the freedom and liberty that we all enjoy today and to bless our country and its people. The ladies were dressed in saris which had to include any color from the National flag while the officers, jawans and other army officials were dressed in their army uniforms for the function which followed the prayer ceremony.

Later in the morning, a function was conducted on the ‘Independence Day Celebrations’ theme, which showcased various skits, patriotic songs, and speeches regarding our glorious and historic freedom struggle and the leaders involved in it, by the members as well as the children of these army officials of the brigade unit itself. But before the function commenced, the Commander of 21 Sub Area- Brigadier RK Raina unfurled the tricolor National flag in front of the entire brigade and initiated the National anthem and ended the National song with a proud salute. The function also saw some officers and their wives conducting a quiz competition for children belonging to the 8 to 16 year age group which challenged their knowledge about the nation and its glorious past. There also were special and different cultural dance performances given by the ladies of the regiment. There was also an army band   
(the famous bagpiper band) performance in the
regiment’s practice ground soon after the main
event. They performed various patriotic song
tunes which were from different states showcasing
the diversity of languages and culture from across
the country. At the end of the performances,
honorary Brigadier RK Raina distributed gifts as a token of gratitude to the performers. Photographs were also taken from the beginning till the end of the entire programme in abundance to remember the event for years to come.
Finally, a grand lunch party followed the splendid band performance, after which everyone went to their respective homes but not without taking along with them- refreshed memories and facts about this day; the sheer patriotic arousal and the overwhelming pride that is suddenly re-awakened in their hearts.


–Sakshi Raina


15th August 1947, it is a milestone in the history of India. After hundred years of struggle, we finally got our freedom from the British. India became a free Nation on this glorious day. Is glorious the right word for this day? Well exactly, I don’t know that. Are we as a country, successful in preserving our freedom? I don’t know this either. My mind was overlapping with these questions today, when I had to decide on the colour of clothes I was to wear for my College flag hoisting Program. Unlike all years, I was lacking interest in the whole aspect of celebrating Independence Day. At first, I thought I would wear Indian attire, with tricolor combination, but I end up wearing black and white contrast. Well western and colour combination doesn’t matter, the point that I want to make is that as an aspiring journalist, I couldn’t think of a reason to commemorate Independence day. India, country of numerous festivals, has the culture of wearing colourful clothes on festivals and 15th August is the most important day for any Indian.  I as an Indian couldn’t find a reason to be motivated on this day. We remember this occasion because of the above-mentioned reasons but one cannot ignore that our nation was also divided into two pieces of land on this same day. In addition, nobody can ignore the fact that we are still facing its consequences.

As a female, what is there to be proud of being born in India? Even after 66 years of Independence, we have perfect examples like Guwahati Molestation case, naked women paraded in Orissa in front of her husband and she recently died as she couldn’t recover from the head injurious she got on the day of incident. Women are easily targeted in any kind of criminal approach. Partition of our country gives us the clear picture of crimes against women. There used to be sacks full of breasts on the trains crossing the border of India and Pakistan. Women of both the communities were picked up like a material and then raped, killed or forced to marry an unknown man and convert into his religion. Moreover, this is still happening in Pakistan. Case of Rinkle Kumari now known as Faryal Bibi is a 19 year Pakistani girl, who was kidnapped and supposedly forced to convert from Hinduism to Islam and marry Muslim Naveed Shah. Past is influencing the present. Well past is gone and we can’t do anything now but what about things that are happening in this 21st century.

Mumbai, city known for being slightly safer for women than other parts of the nation is now facing numerous cases of crimes against women. Recently on August 11, 2012, there was a protest on Azad Maidan Mumbai for supporting the muslim victims of Assam Riot and expressing disappointment on Congress’s failure in controlling the issue. This protest ended in violence as there were few people attending this protest with the intention of creating riot. In this whole act, women constables were molested and their weapons were taken away by the mob.

When so many things are happening in this country then what is there to celebrate? Unknowingly I wore black and white but it gave me a reason to think about my country. For how long we can ignore things that are happening around us. Yes, there are good and positive things taking place in this Nation but by just remembering them on our Independence Day will be absolutely wrong. We have to look forward towards the solution of the problems arising in different sectors of our Nation.

Unnati Maharudra

Jai Hind.

Niharika Pandit reflects upon alternative ways to celebrate 65th year of the Indian Independence.

June 27, 2012.

It was a Tuesday afternoon when two engineering graduates, now entrepreneurs, had gone to watch Gangs of Wasseypur 1 along with their friends at Thakur My Cinemas, Kandivali. It just so happened that the Indian national anthem shot at Sia Chen was played before the film began. Out of the blue, Divyanshu Asopa says to Surendra Chaplot “Why not send greeting cards to our soldiers posted on the border?”

The idea wasn’t unviable, they had discerned. And how the next two hours were spent conceptualising the idea, Surendra recalls “We had a full-proof idea in our mind. Soldiers do a thankless job and it was time to express our gratitude to them.”

August 13, 2012.

They are trying to gain support for this initiative of ‘Making a Soldier Smile this Independence Day’ on Twitter, Facebook and through their friends. So far, they have tied up with IIM-Kozhikode which has encouraged this initiative. Furthermore, Divyanshu’s current Facebook status reads “We will reach 1 lac cards. Trust me.”

On the night of June 27, Divyanshu and Surendra had already set an aim to make Indian soldiers smile. And there wouldn’t be any big present, but a greeting card as a token of love. They had made their minds and further ideated it through their company, 21 Fools.

The next step was to make the idea work; hence, getting approval of the Indian Army. The passionate duo resorted to asking twitterati to share their contacts in the Indian Army. Everything seemed to work their way when Nishtha Singh, a twitter friend replied to their tweet. Nishtha’s father is a Brigadier in the Indian Army Headquarters, Delhi and that’s when the process of seeking official approval gained momentum.

Several e-mails were exchanged between the Indian Army and 21 Fools. The duo had to toil further and send designs of their card to receive a letter of approval. The final design includes smiling people from twenty-eight Indian states captured by photographers, the world over which was then sent to the Indian Army.

The card which will be sent to the Indian Army

‘Some things are worth the hard work’ was what encouraged the two.

On the 20th day, the mail sent to 21 Fools from the Indian Army read “We are really looking forward to your wishes.”

A mere word of appreciation from the officials made them tie-up with colleges, send personalised e-mails to friends, and spread the word about their initiative on Facebook and Twitter. “There has been immense support so far.” say the two.

Priyank Bakshi a Delhi- based entrepreneur, who has bought hundred greeting cards, believes “In 65 years of independence, there has been no exchange of messages or ideas between the Indian Army and the people of India. This is a pioneering initiative and I extend my complete support.”

But success never comes without bouts of criticism.

Vikram Thapar posts his doubts on 21 Fools

And 21 Fools too, were asked questions, tagging their initiative as a money-making venture. To which, the duo humbly reverted-

The price break-up of their card.

To keep the initiative out of any controversies, they will be making finances as transparent as possible on the website andthe names people who have bought the cards will be displayed on the 21 Fools official website.

“Because of the security reasons it is not possible to reveal the name of soldiers to whom the cards will be sent. But we will send a Thank you card to everyone for being a  part of the initiative and will let them know to which part of India their cards have been shipped,” says Divyanshu.

‘So this Independence Day, why not make a soldier smile?’ – 21 Fools

Note- One can buy a greeting card to make a soldier smile. The entries will freeze on the midnight of August 15, 2012