Seventy Years After Midnight
Seventy years ago, the British Empire let go of its hold on the Indian subcontinent, leaving behind a nation that many wrote off as doomed to fail without colonial administration. Defying these expectations, the country rose up to the challenges of self-governance, overcoming hurdles right from its inception. The 15th of August is a day to remember all the lives dedicated to and laid down for this country, to keep the tricolor flying high every single day, since the stroke of midnight that saw India awake to freedom. Patriotism ran high as Manipal University celebrated India’s 71st Independence Day, hosted by the International Centre for Applied Sciences, with citizens gathered to pay tribute to the motherland.
With spotless uniforms and discipline to match, cadets of 4 Kar Engr Coy NCC assembled in front of their office, alongside the MIT contingent for the parade, later on in the day. The march-past of the National Cadet Corps would be driven solely by pride and love, as they would not be considered for the Best Contingent award like the squads from the University colleges. After the flag-hoisting there, they made their way to the EDU building for the main event.
Dr. H S Ballal, Pro Chancellor of Manipal University and the Chief Guest for the day, unfurled the national flag. He then proceeded to inspect the contingents, traversing down the rows of girls, boys, men, and women all united in a common passion. As the marchers paraded past, resplendent in their uniforms, the quiet fierce pride in each eye was as awe-inspiring a sight to behold as the perfect synchronization of the arms swinging up and down in time to the beat. Dr. Poornima Baliga B, Pro Vice-chancellor, Health Sciences, Manipal University, delivered the Independence Day message, bringing up some of the country’s achievements, both modern and ancient, reminding those gathered of all the reasons they had to be proud of India. Loving your country also means accepting that there are still areas to be improved, and Dr. Baliga acknowledged that by talking about the challenges that still need to be taken on.
This was followed by the presentation of the Participation and Best Contingent Awards by the dignitaries. Apart from the various colleges of the university, the Home Guards, Security, and even Asare, the Home for the Mentally Challenged, took part. The MIT team lost the top spot to the Manipal College of Nursing but bagged the runners-up, while WelcomGroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration came in third place. “Every time I wear the uniform, the patriotic feeling within me takes a new shape. Every step I take is a mark of respect to the great sacrifices of those soldiers who have given their tomorrow for our today,” said Dheeraj Acharya, a third-semester student at MIT and one of the NCC cadets who had marched in the day’s parade.
Yap Zuoo Chi of Melaka Manipal Medical College, who led her college’s contingent in the march past for the second consecutive year, expressed admiration for the nationalistic pride on display. “Everyone is united regardless of religion, beliefs, and economic status. As a Malaysian, I love my country but still think that India can be a role model for the national spirit and patriotism here,” she said.
While the ceremony ended with the vote of thanks by Dr. Ganesha A, Associate Director, International School of Applied Sciences, groups of students still milled around after it. Chants of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” rose into the air, showing the beauty and purity of patriotism when it flows spontaneously without imposition.