The Republic Day parade in New Delhi is the most important event of the celebrations where the nation showcases its military might, industrial strength and the rich mosaic of its cultural diversity. It is always delightful to watch the display, but does it have any other significance? The Republic Day parade also highlights the pageantry associated with India’s rich culture in the form of traditional dance forms and tableaux. The carnivals impress everyone showcasing India's vast diversity in culture and tradition. However, shall we be content with it alone? 

This R-Day parade was preceded with an ugly display of fringe mob power protesting against a film. It dared the film maker, actors, the State and its power and also the Apex Court's wisdom in allowing the film to be released. Yet, the hooligans took over the streets in the name of a clan and its pride unmindful of the ugly message they were sending to the world about this glorious country and its tolerant values. 

What singed the moral fabric of the country more was the attack on a school bus ferrying tiny tots to their school on a cold winter morning. Yet, the country helplessly watched this defacing by the Karni Sena, a gang of hoodlums led by criminals facing rape and murder charges. We had seen earlier a Dera Baba defying the order. Much before we had 'Gau Rakshaks' and self-proclaimed conscious keepers of the nations of various hues defiled our ethos in the name of culture, language, eating habits and caste and region. 

The President, Ram Nath Kovind, was forced to remind the nation that the Republic is its people. Citizens do not just make up and preserve a Republic; they are its ultimate stakeholders and in fact, pillars. Are we acting as such pillars? Each one of us is a pillar – soldiers, farmers, forces, mothers, nurses, teachers, students, sanitation workers, scientists, missile technologists, engineers, construction workers, senior citizens, employees, businessmen and the youth, women and children – the President exhorted and rightly so. Where does the fringe fit in these categories? 

The silence of some State governments in containing them is nothing but an endorsement of their hooliganism. It is as good as telling us, the Republic, that, 'their votes matter and hence their voice too'. So does the Republic matter to the powers-that-be or not? It was good to see that people spurned the fringe to watch the movie in large numbers, calling a spade a spade. 

Yes, it is up to the people, the Republic, to hit back if the governments remain silent. And they befittingly celebrated the R-Day parade having sent a just message to the fringe and the governments. Another significance of this 69th R-Day celebrations is that it had sent a powerful message to a vast audience of ASEAN, too, of friendship, cooperation and progress, in the face of the aggression of China all along its borders and beyond. The ITBP tableau in the parade watched by the ASEAN leaders is not just symbolic but a reminder to the rogue neighbours that India will never bow down to the enemy's might!