Reclaim the Republic 2014

Away from the obscenity of a parade of tanks, nuclear missiles, and military might, the citizens of Delhi, once again (yesterday, the 26th of January, Republic Day) demonstrated that their re-definition of citizenship and the idea of a republic does not necessarily need an army, the AFSPA, restrictive laws like section 377, moral policing, censorship and assaults on workers, gay, lesbian and transgender people, women, the young, pensioners, minorities, Africans and other non-Indian inhabitants of Delhi, disabled people, or discrimination against people from the North East and Kashmir.  Since last year, in the wake of the anti-rape protests, the 26th of January, which is nominally observed as the day when the Indian state performs its show of strength on New Delhi’s Rajpath has now been liberated by many of Delhi’s citizens groups as an occasion for us to turn away from the spectacle of the state and walk towards a liberated future. This is how the Republic gets Reclaimed on 26th January in Delhi.

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37 Different organizations and groups and many individuals (see the end of the post for a listing)  participated in the march, which began at the Barakhama Road-Tolstoy Marg Crossing and ended with a public meeting at Jantar Mantar.

The slogans and signs were a combination of new and familiar chants – the by now favourite – ‘Hum Kya Chahtey ? Azadi !’ (What do we want ? Freedom !) got a new twist when it was followed by – “AAP-Vaap aur UPA aur NDA aur Khap se bhi, Baap se bhi, Azadi.” (freedom from AAP and the rest, Freedom from UPA and NDA, from Khap Panchayats and Patriarchs)

There was also – “Kaun sa Kanoon Sabse Badtar? Teen Sau Satattar, Teen Sau Satattar !” –  (Which Law is the Worst of All ? 377, 377 ! – the section of the Indian Penal Code that criminalizes Homosexuality) and “Azadi Ka Matlab Kya, Bekhauf Aurat, Azad Insan” (Freedom Means Fearless Women and Liberated Human Beings)

The Azadi slogans often went as follows – Kashmiri Mangey, Azadi. Lesbians Mangey, Azadi. Hijrey bhi Mangey, Azadi. Aur Khirki mein bhi Azadi. African mangey Azadi. Aur North East Mein Azadi. Chattisgarh Mein Azadi. Aur Haryana mein bhi Azadi. Mazdoor Mangey Azadi. Gujrat Mein bhi Azadi. Aur Raat Mein bhi Azadi. Pyaar karne ki Azadi aur Jeene ki bhi Azadi. (Kashmiris, Lesbians, Transgender People want Freedom. Freedom in Khirki Village, Freedom for Africans, Freedom in the North East, Freedom in Cchattisgarh, Freedom in Haryana. Workers Want Freedom. Freedom in Gujarat. Freedom in the Night. Freedom to Love. Freedom to Live.)

There was an enthusiastic round of slogans against Narendra Modi, against the UPA government, and against Delhi’s racist law minister Somnath Bharti. There was poetry, dastangoi, song, rap and performance. There was a great deal of laughter and the perfect sunshine of Delhi’s late January.

Here is a playlist of 14 videos of the march and the public meeting, and of statements and performances made by different people at the public meeting. The playlist features short statements by Gautam Bhan, Kavita Krishnan, Arundhati Roy, poetry (addressed to Delhi’s racist Law Minister Somnath Bharti) by Akhil Katya, Dastan-e-Sedition by Ankit, and music by young performers.

Reclaim the Republic 2013 was organised by: Voices Against 377, AIDWA, AIPWA, AISA, All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM), Anhad, Anjuman, Breakthrough, Citizen’s Collective against Sexual Assault (CCSA), CREA, Delhi Queer Pride Committee, Dhanak, duqueercollective, Haq: Centre for Child Rights, Jagori, Jamia Teacher’s Solidarity Association (JTSA), JNUSU, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), Must Bol, Naz Foundation (India) Trust, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI), Nigah, Nirantar, Partners for Law in Development (PLD), Pension Parishad, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), PUDR, Prism, Saheli, Sama, SAMARTHYAM National Centre for Accessible Environments, Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues (TARSHI), Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression, Women With Disabilities India Network, Youth Ki Awaaz, The YP Foundation and many individuals from diverse movements

See Also

Protesting the Indian Republic at Kangla Fort, Manipur

We the People, Reclaim the Republic

Reclaiming the Republic from the Alleged Perpetrators of Violence in Kashmir, India and Elsewhere

10 thoughts on “Reclaim the Republic 2014”

  1. Once again: A pompous, arrogant and I know whats best for others write-up. Let people enjoy what they enjoy (Tendulkar, looking at cultural processions from states, technology, tanks, fighters etc etc). Everyone is not as privilege as you are, people don’t get bored of seeing aircraft’s because they don’t travel like you people. Don’t call it obscene because you will not be able to except the same for your own thoughts. Practice what you want to practice (maybe start paying your own employes a share of your earnings and think about reservation in your own companies and organisations) and let others do what they want too.


    1. Criticising people just because they have gone public with their new definitions with which you don’t agree is as arrogant as arrogance itself. Not just the author even I feel the same about the way Republic day is celebrated.


  2. Very inspiring.
    remembering Faiz:

    अभी चिराग-ऐ-सर-ऐ-राह को कुछ ख़बर ही नहीं
    अभी गरानी-ऐ-शब में कमी नहीं आई
    नजात-ऐ-दीदा-ओ-दिल की घड़ी नहीं आई
    चले चलो की वो मंजिल अभी नहीं आई

    and words of greetings that yours truly once sent to Gyanranjan some twenty plus years back:



    बीतेंगे रे
    दुख के दिन बीतेंगे

    जीतेंगे जीतेंगे
    हम जीतेंगे


  3. Equating AAP with Khap panchayats is outrageous and insulting to all those who have associated themselves with the organization with the hope of formulating a better alternative.
    The problem of some people in the Left has always been the branding of all people one disagrees with as reactionary, misogynist, imperialist, sexist, fascist, CPIM stooge, petty bourgeoisie, and now apparently racist. For them, the only people worthy of respect are those who have gone through a baptism of political correctness and ideological purity. Everybody else must be made an outcast, mocked, humiliated, treated with disdain or shouted down.
    And people wonder why left movements, imprisoned as they are by their ideological rigidity, have never succeeded in India.


    1. Left movements may not have “succeeded”, but India is the only country that has kept its right wing at bay for so many years. That is an achievement.


      1. Has it? You must live in an India where Babri demolition didnt happen and BJP didnt rule India for six years.


  4. Sounds very very inspiring. Thanks for this wonderful counter to that aggressive parade of power. However, I would really really wish that people stop using flex banners!


  5. Not a single picture of a Ugandan/Nigerian or African….after all the talk about Ugandan citizenship! Sad they have become so invisible and silent after all this.


  6. I am also against overtly display of Military might which borders jingoism . But at the same time ultra leftist should also realize that their alternate vision is also not the best one , leftist does not have monopoly of best way forward for our society and nation. It is very easy to agitate for all the so called ‘ repressed’ section because sloganeering crowd does not have to take responsibility of any action ..


  7. What about the economically deprived – peasants , workers, unorganized labourers , homeless, unemployed ? Social , Gender, ethnic discrimination seems the only factor in today’s. India


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