I just fancied counting the number of days of freedom from British rule the nation has enjoyed (I have enjoyed far fewer days as I was born in the Independence era; indeed, I have never lived under the British rule to enjoy a distinct feeling of independence! Therefore, my celebration is, say, once removed). No, I am not going to throw a wet blanket on our celebrations today and ask, cynically what freedom. Nominally at least we are free, have been since so August 15, 1947. In what follows, it is important to reckon the year.
To count the days, the easiest way is to keep account of the number of anniversaries of Independence we have celebrated and multiply that by 365.242 days (suitably rounded off to an integer). Today’s papers carry an advertisement from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of the Government of India which says that we are enjoying the “68th Independence Day.”
So, as per what I understood, the total number of days must be 68*365.242 = 24836.456, say, 24,836 days.
Do we come up with this number if we count the number of days year to year, to be precise from Aug. 15th of one year to Aug. 14th of the next? I did this exercise (I dutifully included Leap Years), and the answer is a resounding NO. Our days of independence add to a total of mere 24,471 days, exactly 365 days less. Did the ministry go wrong?
Yes and no.
The ministry said, “Heartiest Greetings on 68th Independence Day.” It is merely marking the day on a calendar and not celebrating the event’s anniversary. But, what the people are celebrating is the 67th Anniversary of our Independence Day. There is a mismatch the ministry did not realize.
People are not keen on marking on calendars; they rather wish to mark the progress the country is making, from year to year, by marking the anniversaries, celebrating it, if indeed there are things to celebrate, like a baby growing up to be 2 years old (days of terrible-two are ahead for the parents!), or an oldie having lived 60 years. The ministry would have done better bringing in the anniversary aspect of the day in its greetings.
There is one other way I may take further exception to the manner in which the ministry expressed its greetings. India gained independence on one day, and one day only – August 15, 1947. The year is important. That is the only Independence Day. There cannot be an 8th (the year I was born), 15th, 27th, 32nd, and indeed a 68th Independence Day, which would essentially mean that after the particular day, we go back to being under the British yoke. Tut, tut …
Of course, we annually celebrate one’s birthday and it just does not roll off the tongue quite easily to say we are celebrating one’s birth anniversary, how manyeth one it may be. So, there is a parallel after all.
All said, let me greet the readers of this piece a most enjoyable 67th Anniversary of India gaining Independence!
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!