When I was in school, August 15 was an extra special day. On the eve of Independence Day, I would polish my shoes, ensure ¬that my uniform was clean and ironed, and the tricolour pin was ready. The next day I would wake up extra early and get ready for the flag hoisting ceremony at the school. The school, on its part, would play patriotic songs throughout the ceremony on loudspeakers. Students would give fiery speeches about our freedom fighters and then, sweets would be distributed.
As I grew up, Independence day became just another national holiday. Even as the day stirs up patriotic feelings in me, I always wonder what I can do to utilise it in a better manner.
I am sure that many feel the same, so this year, as India enters its 72nd year of being an independent country, here are five things you can do:
1. Clean up your neighbourhood
Charity begins at home and what better way to clean up your country than to begin with your neighbourhood? Whether it is picking up the trash from your housing colony and installing proper dustbins, to taking up the responsibility to clean up cement waste, repairing walkways or leakages; this 15th August you can be free your neighbourhood of garbage.
You can take inspiration from these volunteers who started cleaning mountain trails while hiking. In fact, several groups have shouldered the responsibility to clean up their neighbourhoods, places they visit regularly and even public spaces. You can read up about their initiatives here.
2. Plant a tree
The green in our tricolour stands for prosperity. This year, why not make India a little more environmentally prosperous? Just plant a sapling in your neighbourhood, or a bunch of bushes, if you are restricted for space. All you need to do from here on is to water the plant as and when required. Just one sapling per person, in a neighbourhood, can do wonders for a city, and the country!
Keeping this in mind, what could be a better way to celebrate our independence day than to wave a flag that turns into a plant? Read this story of biodegradable and eco-friendly flags that contain chilli and tomato seeds.
3. Freedom from hunger
Many of us meet several needy people while commuting. All we need to do is carry some extra food along with us—rotis, cooked vegetables, bread etc. —and hand it over to them. It’s easy to make this a habit; it doesn’t cost a lot of time, money or effort but will make someone’s day much brighter.
And what better way to start this than the day India celebrates her Independence?
Here are some stellar initiatives from people and organisations across India!
4. Random acts of kindness
Many of us remain unaware about the struggles being faced by the people around us. These issues could be tying them to the ground, and one random act of kindness can go a long way.
I remember this time when I was under a lot of stress—my grades were falling, my friends were too busy in their lives, and I was struggling to find focus. One evening, as I was walking in my neighbourhood park, a young girl came up to me and handed me a flower. “You look so nice, didi!” she said and ran towards her parents.
I couldn’t stop smiling, and the young girl had unknowingly turned my day around.
Maybe you could be that girl to some stranger, a friend, or a family member?
5. Animal Welfare
Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.”
This Independence Day, you can contribute to various animal welfare initiatives—every city has one if not many—and make the lives of our four-legged friends, a little happier. We are all too aware of the plight that our animals live in. Why not change that for just one animal, who has been captured, illegally sold or tortured for money?
Organisations like the Wildlife SOS, have been tirelessly working to make animal lives in the country better, and are always in need of volunteers.
Or, if you are looking for a pet, you can adopt a rescued pup or kitten. Yes, some pure-bred dogs like Labradors, Golden Retrievers and Huskies look better and they also deserve loving homes, but while people line up to buy them, Indies or Indian Pariah dogs stay in ill-maintained rescue shelters or on roads. Ignore the mainstream for once, and give them a loving home this Independence day!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)