For India, it is always about sheer numbers. And millions of song recordings will a new record make.
On July 25, in his monthly address to the nation, Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi called on “maximum number of Indians” to visit a special website created by the Union Ministry of Culture, to record and upload a video of them singing the national anthem. These videos, streamed from various parts of the country will subsequently be patched together and presented as a grand megamix of national pride. Called Rashtra Gaan (national anthem), the government wants at least 7.5 million Indians to sing in and help set a unique record.
Rashtra Gaan is part of a series of events that the Indian government has organised to celebrate the country’s 75th year of Independence. Dubbed Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (elixir of the energy of freedom), the initiative was flagged off on March 12 at Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat, with a re-enactment of Mahatma Gandhi’s famous Dandi March (salt march). Slated to run for 75 weeks, the event hosts programmes and projects anchored by various ministries and departments to showcase themes through five pre-designated pillars: Freedom Struggle, Ideas at 75, Achievements at 75, Actions at 75 and Resolve at 75.
The overarching aim of the initiative is to highlight India’s position as a Vishwa Guru (world leader) and a self-reliant nation. Modi insists that Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is not about the government “but about the sentiments of 1.30 billion Indians”. The initiative’s stated goal is to focus on small changes at the local level that add up to significant national gains.
So far, celebrations have spanned from archery events in Ladakh and cycle rallies in Arunachal Pradesh to marches in Mizoram and photo exhibitions in Goa. It has included tree planting ceremonies across the country and yoga programmes at 75 heritage sites in India. Every state has been instructed to organise historical events of local importance.
Government institutes have been organising walkathons even as schools and colleges host quiz contests, essay competitions and song and dance festivals. Indian embassies around the world have been emphasising India’s achievements as part of India@75 celebrations. The government is also launching an Aatmanirbhar Bharat Design Centre in Delhi that showcases indigenous products from every state and union territory in India.
Even the armed forces have chipped in. The Indian Air Force has sent an all-women team on a mountaineering expedition to Mount Manirang, with members expected to scale the peak on August 15. Meanwhile, the city of Agra will see 75 skydivers attempting a coordinated exercise over its skies, even as races involving 75 boats will unfold in Southern India.
The number 75 continues to resonate, with the Border Roads Organisation hosting 75 medical camps, and the National Cadet Corps undertakes a waste disposal campaign at 75 venues across the country. Meanwhile, the Department of Science and Technology will host upto 75 events, 75 lectures and a series of 750 talk shows by its scientists at various schools and colleges across the country through a coordinated initiative that will continue till August 15, 2022. Elsewhere, the Defence Research and Development Organisation will focus its energies on activities that support self-reliance. This includes working on renewable energy projects and the handholding of Indian start-ups.
India’s vibrant global diaspora is very much a part of the celebrations this year, with the Indian government setting up a special portal that will, for the first time livestream Independence Day celebrations in a 360-degree virtual-reality format. So, no matter where they might be, the novel Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav offers an opportunity for every Indian citizen to showcase their patriotism on a day and a period of time as historic as it is epic.