Independence Day: Celebration of secular dynamism

By Fr Paul Melwyn, Pamedi, Capuchin

Aug 15: "Satyameya Jayate" (Truth alone triumphs) is the national motto of Republic India. It is a Vedic mantra inscribed at the base of the national emblem. The national emblem and the motto of the nation are also inscribed on one side of all Indian currency. We Indians take pride to hoist the National flag, sing the National Anthem, pay tribute to freedom fighters and think of the lofty motto and celebrate 69th India’s Independence day on August 15, 2015.

Visionaries of India as secular nation chose ‘Dharma Chakra’ (Dhamma) to adorn the National Flag. The flag symbolizes freedom and the dharma chakra imprinted at the center of the national flag of India stands for secularism and constitutional values and principles. In his speech at the Red Fort, Delhi, on August 16 1947 Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India said: "The free flag of India is the symbol of freedom and democracy not only for India but for the whole world. India, Asia and the world must rejoice on this great day…"

The Preamble that highlights the essence of the Indian Constitution clearly declares the four objectives: justice, liberty, equality and Fraternity (Bandhutva). The goal of fraternity is expressed in the following words: "unity and integrity of the Nation." Dr Ambedkar describes fraternity as that brings a sense of common brotherhood of all Indians – of Indian being one people. It is this principle which gives unity and solidarity to social life. Fraternity is assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity and integrity of India as one Country or nation.

What triumphs today is not the truth of unity and integrity of the India as fraternity but an opposite environment that permeates with intolerance, arrogance, hostility, prejudice, hate and violence which are hallmarks of religious fundamentalism. Ideologies of religious fundamentalism create fanatics and radicals who threatenreligious freedom, the most treasured liberty enshrined in the Indian constitution. In one of his outstanding speeches, concerned about the future of Independent India Dr Ambedkar on November 25, 1949 said the following:

"My mind is full of the future of our country that I feel ought to take this occasion to give expression to some of my reflection thereon… What would happen to her independence? Will she maintain her independence or will she lose it again? It is this thought which fills me with anxiety… This anxiety is deepened by the realization of the fact that in addition to our old enemies in the form of castes and creeds we are going to have many political parties with diverse and opposing political creeds. Will the Indians place the country above their creed or will they place creed above the country? I do know. But this much is certain that if the parties place creed above the country our independence will be put in jeopardy second time and probably lost for ever. This eventuality we must resolutely guard against."

The current game of reconversion (Ghar Wapsi); marginalization Christians and Muslims to make India a "Hindu rashtra,"; calling for national debate whether words "socialist" and "secular" should be part of the Preamble to the Constitution; a proposal to elevate the Bhagavad Gita, a revered holy book as India’s ‘national scripture’ that tantamount to undermining the secular basis of Constitution; bust (engraved portrait) of NathuramGodse to install in different parts of the country; a renewed attempt to introduce a nationwide anti-conversion law; inflammatory speeches and attacks are some examples appear to abrogate fundamental rights of the citizens enshrined in the secular constitution of India. Will India put her independence in jeopardy or will she lose again? Who has answers to the question raised by Dr. Ambedkar? Was Barack Obama, the President of the United States right when he said in February this year that the acts of religious intolerance that being reported in India would have shocked Mahatma Gandhi?

As mentioned above, Dharma-chakra which is at the center of the national flag symbolizes some basic rights of every Indian citizen. They were ideals proclaimed and practiced by Emperor Ashoka. Seeking after truth, reverence for life, tolerance, compassion and peaceful co-existence were the cornerstones of his administration. Gandhi wrote about national Flag:

"…. Looking at the wheel some may re-call that Prince of Peace, King Ashoka, ruler of an empire, who renounced power. He represented all faiths; he was an embodiment of compassion… The Ashoka Chakra represent eternally revolving Divine Law."

It was in the 1920s the tricolor flag was adopted by the Indian National Congress. The colours – white, green and saffron were arranged in the order from top to down. They were given religious connotations with saffron representing Hinduism, green Muslim and white all other faiths. The idea behind was that white would represent the weakest and it should occupy the first place. Second, greenthat would represent Islam and Saffron that would represent Hinduism at the base, numerically the strongest one shielding the weakest. However, religious significance attached to the colors was soon avoided on Gandhi’s initiative. The order of the colors was also changed to saffron, white and green in the descending order. From then on saffron is understood as representing courage, renunciation and sacrifice, while peace and truth and green faith and life.

The controlling principle of all those who work under national flag of India is Truth (satya), call it ‘dharma’. The wheel of the law of dharma denotes dynamism. On the Independence Day we celebrate dynamism of country’s secularism with patriotism-themed events across the country. The Prime Minister of India hoists the national flag at Red Fort in Delhi, followed by the official 21-gun salute and the Prime Minister’s Address. Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address sure to highlight over achievements and development of the country. We hope he touches the issue of secular dyamism and progress the country has made under his leadership. His words are fresh in our minds: "My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others overtly or covertly."

We people of India earnestly desire that the motto of country ‘Satyameya Jayate’ is lived. Let truth prevail! Let ‘dharma’ prevail! Let peace prevail! Incidentally, when first Independence of India was celebrated Mahatma Gandhi did not join the celebration, instead he observed 24 hours fast praying for peace and unity and integrity of the nation. Certainly he might have repeated his favorite incantation, "Sabkosanmati de Bhagavan."


Disclaimer: All views and opinions expressed in the above article are those of the author alone.


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Comment on this article

  • KRPrabhu, B'luru

    Wed, Aug 19 2015

    India is the second largest muslim populous country in the world.Muslims are most gracious living here unlike neibouring Pakistan.Their life style is much better than many other muslim countries.India remained a peaceful state and united in diversity only for the reason its 85 % people are Hindus who are most peaceful sect in the world.This is so since time immemorial.In those days Hindus remained ununited unlike now.Understand this point and in the recently held parilament election India retained its identity and voters showed to the world that India is a Hindu country basically.Unfortunately the term 'secular' is understood and practiceded by vested interests for their personal/political goals.

    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Arthur Ronald D'souza, Belman/Abu Dhabib

    Sun, Aug 16 2015

    If you look back at the history India converted whole nations such Thailand ,Korea Japan Burma Srilanka in to Buddhism. So why make such hue and cry about conversion. In fact India started the conversion. I my self think I am luckiest one to be Indian First and catholic.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • lancy r, Mangalore/Belguam

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    Congrates Fr. Melwyn for your article. keep going. let all be enlightened...

    DisAgree [3] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Fr J.B. Crasta, Mangalore

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    "Satyameya Jayate" what great message that we Indians have received. Good write up keep writing.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shawn, Manipal, Udupi

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    I am a catholic Christian. What is the problem of reconversion? Our Konkani ancestors were forcibly converted by the Portuguese centuries ago. Is that acceptable in the modern era? Now if a Christian or a Muslim converts to Hinduisim people raise their eyebrows. But when a Hindu converts to Islam or Christianity it means secularism. Is there a different yardstick to measure the degree of seculariam ? I being a konkani catholic do respect the secular fabric of our great nation. No other nation in the world gives so much of importance to their minorities. We minorities in India should be proud of our nation. See whats happening in Pakistan. How are the minorities treated over there. I love my India. If I were to live during the Portuguese rule in Goa, I would never have converted. Simple.

    DisAgree [6] Agree [10] Reply Report Abuse

  • vijay P, Mangalore

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    My dear friend, you are taking us back to colonial times. We as humans can't roll back history and start again, if we did we may end up in caves.
    Even though there might have been cases of forced conversion, many others converted due to Hindu enterprise and exploitation. Gaining education was the main goal of conversion in some cases.
    No matter what has happened in the past we can't correct that now. People are wiser and let them decide what they want.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shawn, Manipal, Udupi

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    The one to disagree my comment is a fundamentalist from a minority.

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  • shetty, Mangalore

    Sun, Aug 16 2015

    Well explained Shawn...Appreciate your views....

    We can leave past as past which cannot be re-written, but lessons can always be learnt from it...

    A new beginning can be made if these missionaries a moratorium on their dubious activities & lets all live in peace & harmony....

    DisAgree Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • abdul samad, mangalore

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    NICE ONE KEEP IT UP...By Fr Paul Melwyn, Pamedi, Capuchin

    DisAgree [3] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Bro. Victor Crasta, OFM Cap., Mangalore/Bidar

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    Congrats Fr. Melwyn for this thought provoking article. Keep it up.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shetty, Mangalore

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    Dear writer.......Please address the cause of the conveniently forget conversion by missionaries when u talk about reconversions......

    Please stop all anti-national actions first & reactions will automatically die....

    Secularism doesn't mean we turn a blind eye when jehadis & missionaries create havoc in society......

    DisAgree [31] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • KRPrabhu, B'luru

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    Writer has exposed himself educated person of the society and a preacher too!!!

    DisAgree [10] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • Alwyn, Canadian

    Sun, Aug 16 2015

    Please note the priest has describex true secularism in the article bUT you fail to understand the meaning of secularism which is very unfortunate. Place like India multiculturalism and multiple faith and democracy etc makes a secularism and there is no other ways india can prosper of your narrow views. We all.need one religion and one dictator way of living but place like india we can imagine but it won't be possible in one's life time. So don't dream thing undreMable and stop blaming which is beyond your imaginations.

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  • KRPrabhu, B'luru

    Sun, Aug 16 2015

    Do not forget that India is secular ONLY because of majority are Hindus.Evevry where in the world majoritism prevails and only in India minorities preach majority.This is the big reason for dismantling the UPA policies in the last held election.Those who do not respect majority Hindus they will see doom in future also.India has retained its cultural identity through ballots.... Minority preachers better under the ground reality and fall in line.

    DisAgree [5] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Lawrence, USA

    Wed, Aug 19 2015

    @Prabhu, India is secular by virtue of her constitution and not because the majority is Hindus. If the latter is true, we wouldn't have all these communal fights.

    DisAgree Agree [1] Report Abuse

  • KRPrabhu, B'luru

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    One 'Nation...One Rule' is the only solution for all problems facing the country today.......we must bring Common Civil code to strengthen true secularism.......Unfortunately the writer has missed this vital point in the article.

    DisAgree [23] Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    KRPrabhu, Common Civil code was also promised by your ...

    DisAgree [10] Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Sat, Aug 15 2015

    United we Stand ...

    DisAgree [5] Agree [26] Reply Report Abuse

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