This Independence Day, be the change you wish to see
As India completes 66 years of independence this August 15, here's how YOU can contribute to the nation.
As a nation that has more than 50 per cent of its population under the age of 25, we have often complained about the system for all our ills. But then we forget that nation-building is not the sole prerogative of the other person or the favourite whipping boys of all Indians -- the politicians.
You can do it too. Make a beginning with these ten baby steps. After all, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
As India completes 66 years of independence this August 15 contribute your bit to the nation's well-being by doing all or some of the 10 things listed here.
1. Participate in a flag hoisting ceremony
This is a no-brainer. You must have been doing this every Independence Day for all we know. This Independence Day make sure you resolve to do nine more things that follow.
Photographs: Ajay Verma/Reuters
2. Donate blood
Several political parties organise blood donation camps on public holidays. If you don't want to participate in those, just go to the nearest blood bank and donate blood there. Or better still log on to indianblooddonors.com, register yourself and show up the next time there is a requirement. It doesn't take much -- just a few minutes of your time every three months.
Also read: This man saves lives, one click at a time
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters
3. Organise a garbage-free campaign in your locality/building
It's easy to blame the local municipal officials. It is nobody's case that it is not their duty. But this August 15 take a broom in your hand and go clean your locality of all the litter strewn on the roads. Encourage friends, family to join in.
If you want to do it more often, go ahead. Your neighbourhood will be proud of you. So will your nation.
Photographs: Parth Sanyal/Reuters
Visit a freedom fighter/soldier's family
4. Visit a freedom fighter/soldier's family and spend time with them
While singing the national anthem, saluting the national flag may be a symbolic gesture, it will make you feel immensely good if you happen to know a freedom fighter/soldier in your locality and make efforts to meet her/him or their families.
Appreciate the freedom fighters for what they did for the nation and the soldier for protecting the integrity of our nation and guarding us against enemies. Log on to wishpicker.com and post your wishes for freedom fighters and send them messages and gifts.
And why restrict yourself to soldiers and freedom fighters. Make the traffic constable at your regular signal happy. Just pull over your vehicle and let him know he matters.
Photographs: Reuters Photographer/Reuters
Teach street children
5. Teach street children
Another effort that must not end at the end of August 15. While the government may have passed the Right To Education Act, is it not time we ask ourselves how are we contributing to make India literate and educated? Is it not our duty to help the underprivileged and the needy learn to read and write?
Make this August 15 your launching pad. See how you have done a year later and assess your efforts in making India a literate country. If you're in Mumbai, THIS is where you can start volunteering or contribute your bit to Teach for India.
Photographs: Parivartan Sharma/Reuters
Resolve never to jump signals
6. Resolve never to jump signals
We think we are a nation of civilised people. Go to any traffic junction and the reality will hit you hard.
Jumping a signal has become fashionable, almost a norm. In fact, many hapless people fear to cross the road using the zebra crossing even when the signal directs them to do so. They fear some rash driver will run them over. This August 15 resolve never to ever jump a red signal and follow traffic rules.
Photographs: Reuters Photographer/Reuters
Resolve not to bribe
7. Resolve not to bribe
The latest India Today cover puts the extent of corruption into perspective. It pegs the annual urban bribe at Rs 6.3 lakh crore (that's 63,00,00,00,00,000 by the way) putting to shame the Rs 65 crore Bofors scam, the Rs 8,000 crore Commonwealth Games scam and the 1,76,000 crore 2G spectrum scam to shame.
What can we do? How about resolving not to pay bribe? Follow ipaidabribe.com and become a 'bribe fighter'.
Photographs: Rediff Archives
Visit an old age home or orphanage
8. Visit an old age home or orphanage
Few things can be as cruel as old age and childhood without parents. Visit an old age home or an orphanage and spend time there. Like most other things listed here, there really is no reason why you should restrict yourself to doing this on one day only. Instead, let Independence Day just be the first of many days when you do good for others.
Photographs: Adeel Halim/Reuters
Visit a fort of historic importance
9. Visit a fort of historic importance
Independence day and Delhi's Red Fort are synonymous with each other. It was from the historic Red Fort that Jawaharlal Nehru made that famous Independence Day speech witnessed by people from all walks of life as Nehru inspired them to dream about India's future.
While, not all of us may be lucky to be at the Red Fort this August 15 to listen to Prime Minister manmohan Singh's addrrss to the nation, we can surely make an attempt to visit forts of historic importance where we reside. Surely we could all do with a history lesson?
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters
Play an Indian game
10. Play an Indian game
Finally, for all the nerdy things that you think you are capable of doing in this digital age, spare some time for playing a game of Indian origin. Like kabaddi or gilli danda! Better still, introduce your kids to them!
Rejoice in the sun, get your clothes dirty, get yourself bruised. Remember how your parents or their parents must have entertained themselves when there were no TVs, smartphones, tablets or gaming consoles and yet lead a healthy life.
This Independence Day, be the change you wish to see! Did we miss something? Post your ideas here!
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters