What is the significance of 15th August or the meaning of Independence Day to your child? He is looking to get a holiday from school and have a nice time with you on 15th August. He might have read about the national freedom movement and freedom fighters in the History book. Isn’t it our responsibility to make our young ones understand how great the day is? Sorry! We have forgotten it amidst the screams, gleams and glares of commercialism these days.
Intimacy is commercialized in movies. Human emotions are commercialized in tele soaps (family dramas). Regional and national festivals as well as such occasions as Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Friendship Day, Teachers Day and Children’s Day have been commercialized in present times of multi-store retail shopping. Commercialization of Independence Day is the latest trend.
Independence Day is around the corner. Brands and stores have been marketing themselves and promoting their offers for last ten days. All mediums of communication – newspapers, websites, social media, emails and mobile phones – are screaming “Independence Day offers”. The eyes are greeted with full-page advertisements from Big Bazaar, Reliance Mart, More, Pantaloons, Reliance Trends, Croma, E-Zones and likes on the first page of leading newspapers like the Times of India.
Big Bazaar is up with “6 Days Maha Bachat” offer (great saving) from 10th to 15th August. Reliance Mart is up with “Full Paisa Vasool” from 10th to 18th August. My Gmail Inbox is cluttered with Independence Day special shopping offer emails. I have been receiving SMSs persuading me to indulge in shopping this Independence Day. Unsurprisingly, these emails, SMSs and advertisements click with the Gen Y that is in love with shopping mall culture.
Ecommerce retail portals like FlipKart.com, Yebhi.com, HomeShop18.com and likes are not lagging behind the brick-and-mortar brand stores when it comes to commercializing Independence Day as a shopping fest. The following URLs suffice to justify my statement:
15th August being a day off for the employees of public and private sectors in India, restaurants in cities and towns are all set to woo food buffs with Independence Day special menus. To be precise, The Resort, an upscale restaurant in Mumbai, expects a beeline of customers this 15th August. However, I must admit that this Mumbai restaurant is going to showcase the richness and diversity of Indian food culture through the Independence Day special menu that consists of delicacies from different culinary regions of the country. To think from the citizens’ side, 15th August is merely a day to enjoy dining out.
A huge influx of revenues on 15th August is the target of big Bollywood banners. Some Bollywood film production houses schedule the release of their movies in the first or second week of August with a view to fetch in a jostling crowd of audience on Independence Day. In 2012, Ek Tha Tiger starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif had released on 15th August and banged the box office with the first day collection of 32.92 crore, the highest opening collection in Bollywood 2012, according to the news published on 22nd August by Businesstoday.Indiatoday.in.
This year, Rohit Sippy’s Chennai Express starring Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Pudukone earned a whopping 33 crore this Eid, the day it released and is looking to grab a larger pie of the market on Independence Day too. Independence Day is an occasion for producers to hit the jackpot and a mere holiday for citizens to entertain themselves out.
I am from a small town Burdwan in the Burdwan district of Bengal. Education and culture are the pillars of economy in this town. In my childhood, Independence Day was a cultural celebration all over the town. Besides schools, most local clubs would organize cultural functions with children and youth in their neighborhoods, to pay tribute to the freedom fighters of India. The functions included recital of patriotic poems from Rabindranath Tagore’s collections and dramas based on some great events in the lives of legendary heroes of the country. Today, I am sorry to see the changing face of culture in my native town.
I traveled by local trains from Dum Dum to Sealdah for two years when I was in Kolkata. Despite the madding rush and jostling crowds in compartments, my daily local train journey was quite joyful because of the interesting gossip among daily passengers. Everything under the sun from politics to economy, sports, rape, murder, Mamata Bannerjee, Rituparno Ghosh, Emran Hasmi, Mallika Sherawat, today’s Bengali cinema, etc. is the subject of their gossip. Even the freedom fighters of India were not out of their usual discussion. But, on the preceding days of 15th August, I overheard the same passengers talk about their holiday plans for Independence Day. The importance of 15th August, the value of freedom, the history of Indian Independence Movement, the sacrifice of so many lives, and the struggle of freedom fighters were just out of the discussion.
Of course, we have the right to celebrate Independence Day in our own ways. With our fast-paced lifestyle in the cosmopolitan society of metropolises, the ways of 15th August celebration have changed. We eagerly wait to have some oodles of relaxation, entertainment and fun over sips of coffee and bites of snacks with friends and family on holidays as well as weekends. I am no exception to this, and so I am not critical of your plans to go out, dine out, watch a movie, catch up with friends or indulge in shopping on 15th August.
However, Independence Day of India is not merely a holiday. It is the day to pass on the value of independence to the Gen Next. It is the day to teach them how to be a dutiful citizen. It is the day to make them understand their responsibility towards society. It is the day to respect the spirit of freedom – the most precious achievement of our legendary heroes. It is the day to remember that freedom was earned, not gifted. It is the day to say, “We are Indians”. Finally, Independence Day must be celebrated cheerfully with its importance and glory on high.
BY Saurav Agarwal