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Mainstream, VOL LX No 5, New Delhi, January 22, 2022

Letter to the readers, Mainstream, Jan 22, 2022

Friday 21 January 2022

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, January 22, 2022

This coming January 26 will mark the 73rd anniversary of India’s Republic Day. This is a day of great significance when our newly independent country adopted its new constitution. Since the 1950s a republic day parade is held in the national capital; It has been a stately event of pomp and show with a military parade and also with tableau’s representing different regions and a diverse cultural heritage of India. This year there has been a major controversy over the rejection of tableau’s proposed by the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal —all three-run by opposition party governments. It is a pity that three important states will go unrepresented in the national parade, creating some resentment towards the authoritarian style of the central government. The problem in fact is not restricted to the decision-making regarding the parade alone, the current government is seen to have an anti-federal attitude. The regime is making a break with convention in many accepted practices of the state, causing tension and distress in the system by dis-regarding a consensual style. Many of the over 70-year-old practices & rituals of state and government used to take place in the backdrop of the central vista area of Delhi – the seat of the historic parliament, the Presidential and government buildings; the Modi government unilaterally decided for a total rehaul of the area with a new parliament and new government buildings despite disagreement over lack of consensus by opposition parties. Since 1972 a burning flame at the Amar Jawan Jyoti underneath India Gate in central Delhi had existed as a tribute to the soldiers who died for the country in various wars since Independence, now the Modi government has decided to take the old flame away and move it 400 meters away to the newly created war memorial built under the shadow with the new regime –out to delete and alter the old, with a new wrapper and bearings (we already know of umpteen of old government schemes from the previous regime have been renamed to appear new). The entire central vista district will soon bear the markings of a new regime changing the national capital forever, we hope it won’t take away memories and heritage of India’s anti-colonial movement. Beyond the TV-style spectacle on January 26 we should be honouring the values of our constitution and our republic highlighting commitments to equality for all citizens and despite all our differences. The Prime Minister should remember that message to take all our people along and not be silent when sections of our citizens come under attack from divisive and communal forces.

Tributes:

Dr Jacob Eapen, one of the founding members and also an editor of Social Scientist — the respected scholarly journal from the left, passed away on January 13, 2022.

Pandit Birju Maharaj, India’s celebrated Kathak Dancer and storyteller passed away on Jan 16, 2022. In 1986 he had been awarded the high honours from the state when he was conferred the Padma Vibhushan.

Alekos Fassianos the widely acclaimed Greek painter died on Jan 16, 2022.

Neela Wickramasinghe, the veteran Sri Lankan singer and serving Consul General of Sri Lanka in Milan passed away on January 17, 2022.

Narayan Debnath, the award-winning Bengali cartoonist and comics illustrator, passed away in Calcutta on January 18, 2022.

We pay tributes to all of the above people

January 22, 2022 – HK

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