Another wake-up call this R-Day

28 Jan,2021


By Sanjeev Kotnala


The Nation was celebrating its 72nd Republic day. Dressed in a kesaria kurta, I had returned from a drive to Bandra Band Stand. The taste of Jalebi-Dhokla-Vada Pav from Punjab Sweets at Pali Hill was still fresh. It was slowly getting subdued with the fresh cup of Society Masala chai. A heavy dose of customary patriotic songs over the radio stations during the drive had charged me. On return to my society, I had even stopped and shot the typical picture, saluting the National Flag. And I had just watched the Republic Day communication developed by Manish Bhatt and the team at Scarecrow M&C Saatchi for the client Ambuja Cement.



For a change, the TV set tuned to NDTV I was watching the live parade telecast. In such a pleasant situation, dulled with everything will be right. The NCC cadets marching on Rajpath, the helicopters flying over the parade.


I was jolted to reality.


In between the parade coverage, the channel kept the viewers updated with visuals from the three alternate parades happening in the capital—the tractor rally of so-called protesting farmers.


What one saw was disappointing. One felt ashamed for the fellow countrymen taking this solemn moment to act in the way they did. They have been playing cat and mouse game with the government for long. January 26 was just a culmination of ill intension most likely supported by outsiders. This time it was not as bad as the riots of 2020.


One wished we were not a democracy. That the protesters had some fear of the law-and-order machinery. That the machinery was allowed a free hand to do what they are meant to do- maintain law and order. Hoped that they were amply supported with right weapons and intelligence. And when one saw the visuals from Lal Qila, one wished they allowed to shoot at sight, instead of allowing the hooligans to keep the city terrorised.


The law-and-order machinery was never in the game. The Government was put into catch 22 situations. The Government was anyway getting called for not acting. And would be called if they did act. Charged with this confidence, the patriotic farmers were busy challenging the Government.


The WhatsApp groups were full of typical armchair analyses if the situation. I was one of the vociferous participants. Whatever may be the Rajneeti, the politics of protest. Whoever may be supporting such a protest and gundagardi. If they were Nihangs or Jats. If they were on tractors or on foot. If they agreed or were protesting against a law that the elected representatives have crafted. And one that a large part if the country finds no problem with. None had the right to act the way they did. I go a step ahead; none should dare to act the way they did.


There is an urgent need in this country to bring new laws and take hard actions. Bring the destructors and penalise them. And if that calls for an emergency type of situation, so be it. The Nation has a responsibility. The Government has responsibility and accountability. What about the citizens of the country? What should the country expect from them?


I don’t know how, but we cannot afford such destructive protests. The Nation cannot be held to ransom. The laws are enacted by the elected representatives, and any question must be raised in the parliament. In my view, they should not even be challenged in the supreme court. At the worst case just like the president, the court can ask the Government to reconsider – but not force to amend a law duly enacted by an elected government. The battle has to be fought inside the parliament. If the regulations are anti-people, the people have the opportunity in the next election to reject the appeal.


When one sees the Rajpath Parade, and the Protestors violent parade side by side on the TV screen one gets disoriented. When one views a highly emotive campaign by brands on such occasions, one tends to get disoriented. When one listens to those songs that charge you up, one is unsure which country they refer to.


I know advertising cannot reflect this violent mood of the Nation. It will still continue to play on the emotions that you hold so dear. The campaigns will remain idealistic and the brands purpose-led. I am sure no brand will comment on what happened on January 26, 2021. Not sure, if they should. The taste has soured. The Ambuja Cement commercial was no longer making sense. What made sense is the MTV and  GoldMedal electricals ad.



What I am sure is that we, hopefully, feel the need to wake up and take a stance. Tell the government we are with them. The citizens do not need to be threatened and terrorized of such gundas. We have elected a Government to keep order. As citizens, we just want to go about our business in peace and have a good night sleep. The citizen wants no more such incidents.


That the citizens feel about the Nation. They are patriotic enough not to raise questions if the Government acts decisively. The citizens feel charged when they see the patriotic campaigns not because it is not real-life. But because it is the Nation, they want to live in. And for it to happen, the citizens look at their elected government and the whole opposition to be constructive and decisive in action. Otherwise, none will be spared, and that is not being said figuratively.


So, if you are still not up. Here is another to close the argument- this time from Adani. And I am happy to note that instead of mussy-mussy all for the Nation- Tera Hai Par Mera Hai feeling- some are raising the questions.


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