Jul 31, 2015

Pursuit of happiness

As we approach Aug 15th, I was reflecting on July 4th. I spent that weekend in NY, my first visit to the city.  I was quite surprised at the sparse number of flags on display, having always thought Americans were gung-ho about these kind of things. I did see two ladies with the flag painted on them, just that nothing else, and a man with the smallest possible piece of clothing of patriotic colors on him.

The two dates denote some fascinating differences. One a culmination of a long predominantly non-violent struggle marking the transfer of power agreed upon by both sides while the other marking the beginning of a war. The Americans are essentially celebrating the day they declared themselves independent not the day the British agreed to that fact.

The Purna Swaraj declaration on the 26th Jan couple of decades earlier to Indian Independence, is more similar to the American declaration of Independence.  It's a nice touch that we still celebrate that day though for different, equally important reason.

There are some interesting similarities to the two documents written almost a hundred and fifty years apart. Both reaffirm the right to independence, invoke God and list a set of justifications. Both highlight the British to be foreign or alien. While the American document is against the King, the Indian document is against the British government, no doubt due to the diminished powers of the monarch. But clearly the British didn't learn any lessons and had only worsened.

The American document displays confidence while the Indian document also has a sad, bemoaning quality to it, '[British] training has made us hug the very chains that bind us'. The concluding paragraph is where the documents differ the most. It is chillingly clear the Americans mean war. In the Indian document, while there is clarity in terms of the non-violent approach, there is hesitation in the last para as to the ways and means.

The best line though is 'Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness'.

July 31, 2015