Popular Cultures: Television and Patriotism
Duration: 01:02:59; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 33.257; Saturation: 0.047; Lightness: 0.353; Volume: 0.036; Cuts per Minute: 3.905; Words per Minute: 0.016
Summary: 26th January, 2002, 52nd Republic day of India. The citizens of India get to feel the federalism of the republic of India only on few days: the independence day on 15th August, the republic day on 26th January, the days of the parliament elections and ofcourse the days of wars with the neighbouring countries. The nationalist sentiments run high on those days, specially in the hours spent in front of the television or with the newspaper. The orchestrated visuals that get laid out evoke range of sentiments: pride, insecurity, vulnerability, bonhomie, benevolence, power, expanse and so on. The centre of all these is the state arranged republic day parade in New Delhi. There are many other public programme that take place throughout the country on that day, but they are all smaller replicas of the master programme, both in terms of look and theme. The parade is arranged by a series of floats: by the defense ministry, by the ministry of sports, by each state, by youth, by women, by issues, by public institutions and so on.
The floats of army trucks and the soldiers on the horseback.
New Delhi, India
The missile vehicles pass by - displaying machismo, valor, power and hegemony. The object also looks like a male organ.
The President takes the salute from various regiments of the army.
More regiments pass by and the President in the podium takes salutes. Constant cutting between helicopter shots and close shots create the desired sense of scale in spectacle and dedication in detail.
More regiments and more salute taking. The lack of variety in shot taking and editing is shocking. Obviously there are a few static cameras without anybody operating it in any meaningful way. Also the editing is pre-decided as cut from camera 1 to 2 to 3 to back 1 etc. But wondering whether this monotony in rhythm itself creates the low intensity wide emotion of patriotism!
Ah! The girl scouts. Some welcome change. The girls trying hard to be erect and focused like the regimented army men. Thankfully their humanness is still betraying them! Anyway the President is equal to all groups - so he is still taking salutes. It must be a difficult job to be a president, atleast on the Republic day.
The floats have started - the big cultural extravaganza. Every year the folk / traditional artists from each state struggle with the govt. and their power brokers to get a chance to be part of the float of their state. It is suppose to be a great honour, maybe good money too. Floats from Andaman & Nicobar and then Bihar.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands
The floats appear alphabetically by the states- populated by the people in traditional costume of the respective states. So the next one is from Chhatisgarh and then Gujarat. Oops! The next is Jammu & Kashmir. What a contrast! The beds of Hindutva and Islamic militancy.
Jammu & Kashmir
jammu & kashmir
Keral - Kerala with their manadatory Kathakali performers in costumes. After that Madhya Pradesh with visual of forts, horses and virility.
Now comes aamchi (ours in Marathi) Maharashtra and that too in bullock cart. And milk pots. It is depicting the popular public game Govinda - where the neighbourhood boys play the game of breaking a milk pot kept hanging high up. This game is suppose to have been invented after the childhood stories of Lord Krishna. Next follows Meghalaya, one of the marginalized states of India, part of the romanticised seven sisters states. They come with their 'birds and bees'. Then comes Mizoram in their 'tribal' costume display. Next is the big boys of Punjab with a display of valor- medals and insignia, the patriotic race. Then comes Tripura - modest state, modest claim. Teracota (craft and architecture of mud) temples and low key music performance.
birds & bees
It is time for Uttar Pradesh - the heart of India, the kings of independent Indian come from this region. It is 'Holi' for them, the festival of colour. The state floats end here and now comes theme floats.
First one is (ghar) - Home.
Various models of houses in flowerbed, in the middle of snow, on a peak etc. Ofcourse absent are the blue plastic of the shanties of urban migrants - in India more live in those homes than in any other types.
Next float is 'Agro and Rural Industries' - farmers, weavers, earthen pots, ploughs, handlooms and what looks like the wife and the son of some powerful man of the region. Next comes 'Enviorment and Forset'. Obviously we are to believe that both are the same and one. A tableaux of women saving the trees from the clutches of wood merchants and their goons. Could it be a tribute to famous 'Chipko' movement of Himachal Pradesh. During this movement led by Sundarlal Bahuguna groups of women embrace the trees marked for chopping in the Himalaya. The cutters could not cut the trees without hurting the women. The movement has become synonymous to resistance against de-forestation. Chipko means 'get stuck'.
The float of Secondary Education. Some women reading books in what appears to be a library. A campaign call for women's literacy - small, functional and very drab. Will this attract women away from the other worlds of marriages, tradition, glitter, consumerism etc.!
Indian Mountaineering Foundation. How such an institution become part of the Republic day parade? Well, most probably because they make able bodied citizens and hopefully help invading peaks on behalf of the nation. No woman is part of the summit though. The President is still watching though sitting by now.
Now the float of Ordance Factories. Display of a few canons - Good Lord, we are in safe hand!!
Now comes the most loved and most magnificent of India's public sectors - Indian Railway with one old fashioned steam engine complete with a passenger's compartment and a guard with green flag. It just comes and wins! Now Rural Developmet - tableaux of happy farmers with their sackful of harvest crops. Where do such a happy lot live in this era of farmers' suicide!
Soon after the Rural is Space Satellite - that is India! The president and wife is looking tired.
Telecommunication - a replica of phone handset, a dish antenna and a globe. A parade of 'Indian peoples' speaking on the phone. Next is Textile - urban people, appropriately clothed, placed in the middle of ceramic objects and the rural and tribal folks, without much clothes surrounded by earthen pots. Now Tourism. Cactus and some unrecognizable totem followed by Rajasthani folk dance and camels with white skinned tourists, some puppets, coconut trees - it dissolves too fast to see the whole thing. Pretty attractive though!
Next one is a snow covered mountain with mannequins (or are they real people / actors) in skiing gear. What could it be titled?
Elephants and umbrellas - seems like a representation from temple extravaganza of Kerala. But then some happy children and also some adults waving from the back of the elephant. Would the orthodox Kerala temple authority have approved of it? Whatever it is some people got a joyride along the Rajpath. Must have got more rides during the rehearsal. Some people got to CELEBRATE Republic day.
rajasthani folk dance
Now come the rows of girl scouts with flags in red and white and green - the combination of the national flag. After that come the boy scouts with flags in purple, maroon etc. How come the boys get to carry such insignificant colours? They are chased by another uniformed group. The beauty of youth brings some fresh air in the middle of large display and wide claims.
The scene has completely changed now. There is a distinct attempt to represent the 'ordinary'. Girls in ordinary clothes, boys in army fatigue and 'farmers' in rural clothings - dance together.
Mehrauli, New Delhi
Things get even more mundane. Girls from Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Mehrauli (girls' school) too come in dancing. Followed by more women in traditional costumes of the regions, then a group of colourful chhau dancers of Bihar-Orissa region.
The chau dancers stage an elaborate performance. Devi Durga appears in the middle of a busy battle scene and that looks like the ending point. The nation will finally be saved not by the state or by its citizens - but by some divine interventions!
The empty Rajpath (the artery road) anticipates something special. Men in motorbikes perform various acrobatic tricks. Are they professional acrobat? Part of army? Police? Home guard? Or from some such security or defense related organizations? Or are they representing sports? Entertainment - as in circus? Followed by aircrafts making patterns on the sky.
Compilation of various celebrity musicians sing/play the new version of Vande Mataram (Hail the mother - a song composed during the independence struggle as a war call. This was re-composed in 2002 to re-ignite the patriotic feelings and also make some business out of that. Musicians - Asha Bhonsle, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pandit Jasraj. There were some othesr, but we don't have those images