We are 63 years old as a Republic. It is the time to celebrate the fact that we are the citizens of India and live in a democracy; a blessing we sometimes take for granted. It is time to appreciate our founding fathers that had the conviction and wisdom to give us this Constitution; which for all its frailties has stood the test of time. Here are the 62 things in our national life that define us and make us proud.
The Indian Armed Forces: Nothing matches the untamable courage of the Indian jawans and officers. They live to defend our borders; stay awake so we get a good night's rest. They are truly the brave forces. Jai Jawan!
Hospitality: One of the most evident things any person or even a visitor in India will notice is its hospitality. Indians are full of warmth and hospitality. For instance just board a train and you will see that the family on the next berth will open their tiffin, with rotis and sabzi and pickles and generously offer to share their food with you. Guests in a small Indian home! No issues because they eventually offer their bed while they sleep in the hall. Hospitality like this would only be seen in a place like India.
Economic Renaissance: It has been such a pleasure to see that since the beginning of the 1990s, India has taken an upbeat turn in the economic field. Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and his Finance Minister Manmohan Singh will be remembered in history as those who dared to abandon the old Soviet path of a planned economy.
Supreme Court: It is our tough cookie that serves justice and gets to rap our leaders. The apex court that has had a very busy year, pulling up governments, public servants and criminals along with all the scams bursting into the scene one after another.
Election Commission: Whether it is about thinking of a new political party or a fancy symbol for your existing one, or wanting to nail a guy for his hate speech. The Election Commission is here to meet your every electoral need.
Indian Railways: Our very own essence of India, the Indian Railways, something no one can miss to travel in. The experience of hot chaai, garam vadas, even a three-course meal in the train, ensures you get a ride you'll never forget! It is 'India's Lifeline' without a doubt.
The Big Fat Indian Wedding: In the splendor and show, there is nothing more dramatized than an Indian wedding. Something you can’t afford to miss is the Indian wedding with its diverse rituals and customs. It is the occasion that calls for the big splurge and display. It gives us Indians a great excuse to get together with our zillion relatives and do what we do best, have some fun!
Festivals: Be it Diwali, Holi, Id or Christmas, Indians celebrate all the festivals with equal zest and enthusiasm. India is known for its diverse culture and showcases its unity in its diversity.
Wagah Retreat Ceremony: The 'lowering of the flags' ceremony at an official land crossing between India and Pakistan is one of the most beautiful ceremonies. The fascinating, intense show of pomp, war cries and aggression is a must watch.
The Metro: The new Indian era has changed commuting habits. The Metro has finally made travel easy for commuters in the big cities. Led by the visionary leadership, it has set benchmarks in transparency, keeping to schedules and in developing civic infrastructure.
The Indian Attire: Be it sarees, kurta or salwar kameez the Indian attire is definitely a thumbs up. The Indian attire is an attraction for most of the foreign tourists.
Gold: This is rather evident that wherever there's an Indian, there is Gold. Our fascination for the yellow metal makes us the largest consumers in the world, maybe it explains why we didn't sink too badly during recession.
Yoga: Our very own ancient system of mental and physical rejuvenation which is now practiced all over the world. Being the land of meditation, we have as many forms as there are gurus. It is unquestionably a system that helps both the body and the mind.
Rangoli: It is this traditional decorative folk art that remains alive on courtyards of many Indian homes, most often on auspicious days. Rangoli is practiced in many different states and enhances the beauty of the homes.
The Indian Sweets: Most of us Indians have a sweet tooth and love our jalebis, cashew burfi’s and rasgulla’s. Heavenly is the word! Every occasion in India is marked with the traditional Indian sweets.
Gulli Cricket: If cricket is a religion in India, it is practiced in the 'gullis' of India every waking moment. It is unarguably India's national pass time. Watching the gods perform on TV and fine tuning the art in the streets and corners of the length and breadth of our land, is how it works.
Malls: India's new favorite hangout is the malls. Every child, teen and couple find their way to the malls to kill some time and splurge some money.
Tiger: It is something that India was justly famous for in the years gone by. But unfortunately almost poached and neglected to extinction. Renewed efforts were launched to rescue this king of the jungle and our National Animal.
Dhabas: How can we forget these little food joints that are renowned for their earthen settings and lip smacking local cuisine. They are dotted on the highways around the country, most often serving as pit stops for travelers and truckers.
Joint Families: It is the famous Indian phenomenon- grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, second cousins- all under the same roof. Though of late urban life and migration has seen this practice disappear, it's alive in spirit in television serials and films.
Swamis & Netas: One export from India that has been an international hit is the 'swami' or the spiritual gurus. They have placed India on the map with thousands of followers heading our way every year. Not far behind in popularity are our politicians or 'netas', as we fondly call them.
Bollywood Movies: Undoubtedly Bollywood movies are much followed and sought after by us Indians. The perfect endings that we love to see is what our movies offer us. With the dancing and singing and a little unreal ‘stuff’ we love our Hindi movies.
Saas Bahu Serials: It's now been 2 decades since the 'mega-serial' broke onto our screens. Dominating since Day 1 is an inexplicable fascination to portray the Saas-Bahu (mother in law-daughter in law) relationship. Whether the Saas be evil or the Bahu, we Indian viewers are hooked!
Paan: Paan in India is a ‘can't miss’. Good to eat, but not too good to spit. Weirdly so many Indians are seen chewing this green leaf that it has almost given others an easy way to identify a ‘typical Indian’.
Bhangra: It is the traditional dance form of Punjab and an international favorite! The thumping beats, the fast, sometimes acrobatic movements leave you spellbound and energized for more.
Bargaining: It is an essential Indian trait. Shopping on the streets of India is a done thing- you beg, fight or bluff your way through!
Dabbawallas: These famous ‘dabbawallas’ that deliver homemade food. More often than not we end up cribbing about how the daal is a little too watery, the rice uncooked but yet we love our dabba’s.
Dhol: Don’t we love the sound of the dhol out there on the street! Although it looks primitive in design, it breathes life into any celebration. Is has a sound that reverberates in the skies.
Dandiya: The dance form that was born in Gujarat is an explosion of rhythm, music and color. In navratri the art form becomes a melting pot of cultures where people around India come together and as everyone dance to the tune of decorative sticks (dandiyas).
Mahatma Gandhi: Mahatama Gandhi, the father of the nation. The man who struggled for our independence and who left behind a treasure of practical wisdom.
Rabindranath Tagore: India's national poet, who gave us our national anthem. He is remembered as the giant among intellectuals.
Anna Hazare: The social activist and prominent leader who in the last year brought about the Indian anti-corruption movement. He is one of the top global thinkers who actively participated and encouraged the youth to take up the cause of corruption seriously and to remove the plague from the country.
Creativity: India is known for its creativity. India has produced many well known philosophies and sciences, arts and poems and all kinds of monuments, palaces, temples, communities, societies and religious orders, laws and codes and rituals, physical sciences, psychic sciences, systems of politics and administration, spiritual arts, worldly arts, trades, industries, fine crafts and more.
The Grace: One more reason to love India would be that in India it is the grace which sustains us. It is the graceful Indians that make the country such a lovely place to live in.
Culture: India has one of the oldest and unique cultures. India has an amazing cultural diversity throughout the country. The North, South and Northeast have their own distinct cultures and almost every state has carved out its own cultural niche. There may hardly be any culture in the world that is as varied and unique as India.
Diversity: India is truly the perfect example of unity in diversity. Despite the different religions and castes, customs and traditions, the different languages spoken etc people here still have a feeling of oneness. We are bound by common cultural heritage and share basic human values and hence, we call ourselves Indians.
Worshipping Nature: We Indians worship nature and that is what is unique about our culture. All the religions here start the day with morning hymns. The sun, the trees and every part of the nature is worshipped in various forms in our country and nowhere in the world can one find such generosity.
Religious Generosity: Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, etc one can find people of all religions in India. India being a secular state, allows every citizen to enjoy an equal right of choosing and following a particular religion.
Way of Greeting: "Namaste", is our common way of greeting outsiders and elders. It not only shows the respect for others but it also makes one feel the affection in the greeting. It for sure creates a magic that even no 'hello' or 'hi' can create.
Artistic India: Nowhere in the world can one find such a great variety in performing and visual arts that is seen in India. From a roadside show to a highly sophisticated drama in the theatre, one can find anything and everything here.
Street Shopping: Every city in India has its street shopping where buyers are flooded, trying to get the best bargain. Be it Sarojini market in Delhi, Linking road in Mumbai or any other shopping street, we Indians love street shopping.
Goa: Goa is India’s very own Miami. It is the land of the great laze. It is the ultimate stress-buster for people from all corners of India and the world. The place ensures there are no worries, no stresses but just a lot of spirits, sand and surf.
Himalaya’s: The great mountain range inspires completely contrasting feelings of thrill, awe and serenity. Trailing through the Himalayan region brings one directly in contact with our country and its people. It’s definitely one of the things we are proud to call our own.
Kerala: God's own country presenting a polite face of India. The place is full of culture, beaches, hills, plantations and its famously known backwaters.
Crowded Streets: It is the crowded streets that define India. The traffic on the roads, the populated markets and the packed streets is what epitomizes India.
Full Blast Music: In our country enjoyment is measured in decibels. The louder the music, the merrier it is. Though an assault on the ears it is great fun nevertheless. From loudspeakers for the neta’s speech to the jagrans, it is not easy to escape the noise of India.
Chaat Places: India is well known for its chaat places. The famous paani puri, sev puri and many more, is the ubiquitous roadside snack in India loved by all Indians.
Indian Cuisine: Be it butter paneer from the North or the masala dosa from the South, Indian food is lip smacking and delicious, with the scrumptious fragrance of the spices. Full of masala and spices Indian food is a definitely what we all love.
The Taj Mahal: One of the Seven Wonders of the World, a monument to love in marble. It is the world's envy and India's pride.
Shikaras: The shikaras on the Dal Lake is the most picturesque sceneries on the globe. The shikaras of Kashmir make the ultimate photo option for the honeymooning couples.
The Golden Temple: It is the simmering temple on the pond, where the Sikhs and the faithful assemble for instant solace and calm. The depiction of the gurbani would move one to tears. A lesson in humility as well - where all are equal and all are welcome. A model for what a place of worship should be like.
Spirituality: India is known for its spiritual practices. Ours is a country that has strong believers and spiritual practitioners; a country that preaches spirituality and karma.
Cricketers: It is a known fact that Indians love cricket, but the crazy fan following of these Indian cricketers is what is rather amusing. Every Indian will definitely have his / her favorite cricket star for sure.
Auto Rickshaws: The three wheeler- auto rickshaw is one of the most important means of transport to us Indians. Most of us would often have gotten into a tiff with one of them for over pricing us and ripping us of our money, but then again we can’t do without them.
Unity: Our country may have seen the most unpleasant of wars but when it comes to the country as a whole, all people come together as ‘Indians’ putting aside their religion tag and demonstrate what unity truly means.
Kindness: Kindness is a quality of being one can experience in India. There is a kindness and warmth among the people that make Indians different.
Villages: How can the picture of India be complete without the villages? The beautiful, quiet and calm villages are far from the noisiness found in cities. It is a life of farmers who work hard and teach the world the lesson of being content.
Weather: India has one of the best climatic conditions, with all the regions experiencing the various seasons. Be it Cherapunji’s highest rainfall or Kashmir’s snow or Delhi’s extreme weather.
Beauty and Serenity: India is a destination that has a beauty to be admired, with cities and monuments that are worth a visit. A contrast of the chaotic streets and a serenity that makes you fall in love with the place.
Rajasthan: Abundant with sand, palaces and camels. It is a state with a huge cultural heritage.
Filmy gossip: How would our day go by without our daily dose of filmy gossip! Who’s seeing who? Is Shahid Kapoor still single? Are John-Bipasha over? Questions, questions and more questions and we desperately await answers!
Bollywood 'Ishtyle': The Jhatakas and matkas- you name it and Bollywood's got the style! B-town has all the ingredients that take it to the pinnacle of glam and glitz.