For the past few weeks, Shivaji Park has been in the news, with clouds of controversy continuously looming over it. From debating whether it was right to allow Bal Thackeray’s last rites to be conducted in the public, to the debate over the makeshift memorial, and the vague attitudes shown by the State government and the Shiv Sena, Shivaji Park has become a hotly debated issue. Add to that the imbroglio over whether the Park’s name should be changed to Shiv Thirth, or the kind of memorial to be built — the park has become a battleground of egos.
In all this of course, the peace of the residents and those who use the park to play and exercise was the first casualty. They seemed fearful, wary and exasperated as they were caught up in this war of words, pompous statements, posturing and political muscle-flexing.
Today and tomorrow then, these issues will fade into the background as the Park gets ready to host Army Day. The forces are using the ground for demonstrations of their prowess and discipline, to showcase their abilities. It is a refreshing change for the venue that is caught up in this web of inanities.
The Army Mela is a welcome peek into the life of our men in uniform. Of course, it does not give an in-depth view of their lifestyle. However, it is a
window to another world, especially for urban folk who get little opportunity to witness what is a very different kind of life.
While, the forces are certainly not perfect or above human failings, these men do inculcate a sense of pride, and their deeds are soul-stirring and inspirational, especially for the younger generation. It is a good enough reason to go to Shivaji Park this weekend, to feel those goosebumps on your skin as one witnesses those who die, so that you and I can live.
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