about 8 months ago
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Dear Modiji,

I, first and foremost congratulate you on the occasion of India’s 72nd Republic Day. It’s a mighty important day for us Indians; in many ways, Republic Day defined our way of life.

This would be a very strange Republic Day for you. From last year’s record crowd of 1.5 lakh spectators, this year it will be down to just 25,000, with no veterans marching and no child below age of 15 participating in the parade. The parade will also be shorter – yes, we will continue to display out military and cultural strength but the size of marching contingents is much lower at 96 from 144 of last year.

PMji, there will be no chief guest this year but then the celebration is for the Indians and not for the chief guest, isn’t it?

In the middle of the pandemic, I cannot help but wonder how many ‘faces’ you will actually see as most (hopefully) will be covered with a mask. I am sure that the pandemic and the vaccination will be the biggest topic of your speech.

Talking about speech and vaccination, Modiji, I hope that you release more data on the efficacy on the Bharat Biotech’s vaccine. Its homebred and there is national pride but PMji, without transparency and faith on the data, sorry to say, but our vaccine is no different from that of China or Russia.

There is no doubt that you have dealt very well with the pandemic, given our population and range of land and diversity; am sure it has been an almost impossible task. But in the same breath, I would urge you to get majority of the Indians vaccinated asap or else we could have another year of crisis on hand – that’s something we don’t want, right?

The next BIG event for you is the Budget and I hope you give the FM enough freedom and hopefully more insight into what people really want. The various stimulus has been good but now the middle class needs some respite – we can’t foot every bill for the poor and of the rich. Give us some tax breaks – increased taxation means increased evasion. This time, we all know the fiscal deficit is out of control; you don’t need to hide that- you can actually use this to come out clean; let all skeletons tumble and people will not bat an eyelid as we all are prepared for the worst, economically.

Along with Covid and vaccination, PMji, it would be mighty good if you could take steps this Republic Day to make our country less intolerant and even lesser violent. We cannot even watch a series on Netflix without the worry of it being yanked out because it “hurts religious sentiments.” I think Modiji, we all need to live and let live – my way or the highway is not the way. Hope this message percolates down to the grassroot.

This Republic Day, Modiji, I hope you also talk about equality – not just gender – that you are working on pretty well but about income equality. Unfortunately, some of your friends are growing richer by the day while many are being wiped off way below the poverty line. I think, you need to distribute wealth equitably – putting everything in one or two hands puts the country under a huge risk.

And Modiji, we need unity and not uniformity. It’s good to have uniformity in ration card, election card, PAN Card, Aadhar card (so many identities we have), mobile number but please encourage all to keep the diversity of the country intact. Its because everyone is so different that India is magical.

Modiji, we need more open spaces, more homes, more jobs, better air quality, more hospitals, clean water to drink…so many more things. All these “mores” will continue even into next year. But what we definitely need from you today, which can’t wait will next year is urgency in vaccination and jobs for the youth.

Well, I once again congratulate you on this occasion and hope that you will do everything to respect and trust the Constitution.

Yours truly

Ruma Dubey

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