On 26 January, every year we as a nation celebrate the achievements of our country and countrymen. On this day we celebrate the valour of our armed forces as well as the achievements of our budding young sensations. We recognise the contributions of people who have performed yeomen duty in their field of excellence and making the country proud.
In a historical context, it was on this day in the year 1950 we adopted our Constitution making our nation India a “sovereign democratic republic” ending the representation of the British Crown. We have since then commemorated this day every year as the ‘Republic Day’.
This year is no different. The celebrations have only become more vibrant and more joyous with each passing year. In 2019, we are celebrating a lot of firsts. From a women officer leading an all male contingent of Indian Army Service Corps to an all women contingent of the Assam Rifles marching down the RajPath. To witness the veterans of the INA (Indian National Army) given their due recognition; today was a special and momentous occasion.
What makes this year more special is it marks the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. He is among one of the doyens who contributed towards the cause of our nations’ Independence. Those contributions made by them are a lesson as well as a mark of pride. In recognition of the occasion I would like to say what makes me proud of my country.
There are many things which make me proud of my country. Be it the celebration of our culture at the Kumbh or be it ISRO’s latest success in launching the world’s lightest satellite. But as today is a celebration of our Constitution it would be apt to be proud of uniqueness of it. I would like to celebrate one of its unique qualities today of which I am proud of.
Before diving into the issue let us look at it from the prism of history. In Western societies women never were given the right to vote along with the men. Even if some women were given the right to vote it was with restrictions. Women in the western world had to fight to obtain their right to vote. We know about it as the “Women’s Suffrage Movement”.
The Women’s Suffrage Movement is about the struggle of the women to obtain their right to vote and right to be elected. Later the movement also championed the cause of equal civil rights.
The first dominion to grant the right to vote to women was Isle of Man in 1881 but they could only do that if they owned property. But Britain granted that right for the first time in 1920 to women who of the age 30 and above. The age was brought down later to 21 in 1928. In the United States which got Independence in 1776 granted the right to vote to women only in 1920 after women fought for over eight long decades. This did not empower the ethnically minority societies at the same time. They had to struggle for longer.
In India, though women did not have to go through an arduous process of fighting the system to gain their right to vote. The Representation of People’s Act 1951 accorded the right to vote to every Indian above the of 18 irrespective of their caste, creed or sex. This enabled every Indian who was eligible to exercise their franchise in the first ever elections of independent India.
The fact the Indian women did not have to fight for their suffrage rights as they were enshrined in the Constitution through an act of the government makes me proud to be an Indian.
( This article was originally published on Different Truths. You can read it at http://differenttruths.com/potpourri/proud-to-be-indian/ )