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Civilisation

16th August.

Oh, we’re not done yet.

This might be the last of the residual posts you might come across on social media that talks about independence and don’t blame me for it, for, it is about the day after the 73rd Independence day. 

Or will I be trolled for posting this one day later like Parineeti Chopra was?

Oh wait, you have to be a celebrity for that.

As a famous celebrity from a movie said, only the firsts are remembered. No one remembers the second person to land on the moon, the second best at running a 100 m sprint; apart from UPSC aspirants. 

Similarly, no one remembers the second day after the day of Independence.

Then, what happens on 16th August? The day after we celebrate India’s freedom.

Well, most start with emptying their galleries by deleting a thousand forwards they received from the WhatsApp images folder. Here’s a reminder to empty the ‘deleted’ folder as well.

While I had switched off the auto-download option from my WhatsApp settings, here is an Insta story that I didn’t put up fearing backlash as they say from the few numbers of followers that I have on Instagram who seem to be also following the bhaktian ideology.

16th August 1947

The Independence Bill took effect and it was day one of the new India under a new regime. The people who fought the colonizers were now the leaders of our country.

There were remnants of the Raj who decided to bid farewell from our side of the gateway of India in the then Bombay Presidency. The British diaspora in India was not a small deal. There were 28,000 of them in 1951.

I don’t think I’d do justice to this fact by putting out my perspective. Here’s an excerpt from a book that was written about them, by one of them.

The book is titled “AFTER THE RAJ: THE LAST STAYERS-ON AND THE LEGACY OF BRITISH INDIA” ~ BY HUGH PURCELL

The British departure from India at the time of independence was nowhere near as sudden as the handover of power. Many British citizens chose to stay on—there were 28,000 of them in 1951, and still 6,500 in 1971. They did not own large tracts of lands, as ‘settlers’ did in other former British colonies. They stayed largely because they could imagine no other life but the one in India. One of the interviewees in this enjoyable and touching book admits that he stayed on for a lifestyle that allowed him to go through life without ever learning “how to boil an egg or make a cup of tea”. This stayers-on are often caricatured as retired civil servants living in the hills, and surviving, precariously, on diminishing pensions. In fact, many of them were working men, some with families, employed in plantations or, as boxwallahs, in a range of commercial activities for big companies. Some of them were recruited from the UK to work in India after independence. The date at which things fell apart for them was not August 15, 1947, but June 6, 1966, when the devaluation of the rupee dramatically reduced many of their incomes. According to Hugh Purcell, “the date is still remembered apocalyptically as 6/6/66 when many stayers-on decided to call it a day”.

They came here and looked like they were here to stay. From the Bow Barracks in Kolkata to Quizmaster Derek O’Brien.

This tribe is now the Anglo-Indian community that lies on the fairer side of the shade-card that fair and lovely advertisements shamelessly broadcasts on your screens.

Let’s go to one year before independence. The divide and rule strategy plagued inter-caste friendships and relationships- side effects of which we are still suffering from. 16th August 1946, 4000 people were killed in 72 hours in a mass riot in Kolkata. An unnecessary fight with Hindus and Sikhs on one side, Muslims on the other.

What happened on 16 August throughout a hundred year history before and after 1947?

Great minds were born.

  • Naseeruddin Shah
  • R.R. Patil
  • Arvind Kejriwal
  • Saif Ali Khan
  • Manisha Koirala

Hey, what if some of them are not the greatest minds? You and I know them because of something they did. 

Some died

  • Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa
  • Elvis Presley
  • Idi Amin
  • Babe Ruth
  • Abu Nidal

Two infamous for their acts, still notice-worthy to pull off what they did.

Ellen Degeneres– the first gay woman to come out on television empowering her community around the globe, while facing flak for, well, being herself; got married to her belle Portia De La Rossi in 2008. I wonder how long before that will be possible in India. Wait, baby steps. Stop negatively stereotyping the community in popular media.

The first issue of Sports Illustrated was published on 16th August.

Also, China eclipsed Japan as the world’s biggest economy after three decades of blistering growth. Well, it was declared around that day. This counts, right?

A random fact because why not? In West Bengal, some villages celebrate Independence Day after August 15.

What’s happening now?

On, 16th August 2019?
People untying the rakhis laden with the capitalist’s grins resulting from the peak sales season

Kashmir is still under communications blackout experiencing anything but freedom on what is now also their Independence day. Also, nine Kashmiris dead and many lost their eye(s) from the rubber bullets. 

Instagram, Facebook is now again multicolored unlike the tritone theme from the day before.

Web traffic plummets on websites that publish quotes you can copy and forward on WhatsApp groups.

Brands are back to posting the trending pseudo we are green and sustainable instead of the trendy added saffron and white.

Offices are cleaning up the deflated tricolored balloons that are stuck to each other from the cheap DST (double-sided tape, is what I heard at my office.)

Landfills and dump yards of various metro cities suddenly turn tricolor from the non-biodegradable tirangas that the people living near these dump yards were selling at crossroads the previous week. Also, weirdly, straws with staplers on them are in abundance in black garbage bins.
In England, city cleaners were busy cleaning eggshells outside the Indian Embassy in London that experienced Pakistani Mob pelting eggs and shoes at the embassy and on a Jawaharlal Nehru statue. They were showing their feelings towards the Section 370 verdict.

I guess it stands true:

“Humans tend to destroy what they don’t understand”

And at the end, whether in Pakistan, Kashmir or India, we are all humans showing our “humanity”, I guess?

Oh and this just in: petition filed in the apex court against ‘unconstitutional scrapping of Article 370.

You know what? I want freedom from being okay with all this news, I want to be free of the immunity that I have got from years of constant exposure to things my country undergoes.

Jai Hind, Jai Jagat.

Written by : Manas Daxini

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