Is the Indian Independence Day just about listening to patriotic songs, seeing the flag hoisting ceremony on Doordarshan, watching Border for the nth time on TV, buying plastic flags from the traffic signal and wearing a shade of the tricolor? Is our national festival just another holiday? After 68 years of Independence, on this 15th of August, we ask what it means to live in the Independent India? Let’s get a taste of freedom this independence day!
Freedom from Fear
“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high”
It is the freedom to walk back home after a hectic day at office or a late-night workshop at college, without having to clutch pepper spray or your phone in the hand. It is the freedom to marry your lover and live peacefully, without the threat of the Khap Panchayat hunting you down and punishing(?) you for the act of love. It is the freedom to dress the way you want (without being judged) and to choose your own lifestyle, without the fear of being declared a pariah by the society at large.
Freedom from Illiteracy
“Where knowledge is free”
It means going to a tea-stall and NOT being served tea and snacks by a kid, who is bunking school to earn his/her livelihood. It means going to a rural bank and not seeing a farmer put a thumb print to a document without knowing what he/she is agreeing to. It means not having to grapple with stark statistics and grimmer realities wherein students studying in a few government schools were unable to read and write, after years of education. So what if a significant part of our population can not read, we are developing at the speed of light, we are the Independent India.
Freedom from Inequality & Irrationality:
“Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls”
“Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit”
This will be achieved the day, when no one looks at you differently because you are a male, a female or a transgender. This will be gained the day, when homosexuality is decriminalized in India. This will be the day, when cast of a person and not caste will determine his/her future. Yes yes, go to any part of India and racist jokes on the basis of religion, colour, accent, looks, stereotypes are not cracked. With all the quotas and reservations in the name of equality, we truly provide opportunities to one and all (selectively), because we are the Independent India.
Freedom from Price Rise
It is not funny when we make jokes about soaring onion prices and compare it to gold-rush; it just shows the inefficiency of our economic system. It is the right of people to buy the basic necessities – roti, kapda aur makaan (yep, we are still trying to provide these amenities to a large population!)- at reasonable price. It is not reassuring when capitalists end up owning a stake in every functioning cog of the machine or in the name of some antiquated ideology, development and democracy comes to a halt. Come the falling rupee and crashing paisa, we are the Independent India.
Freedom from Corruption
“Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection”
After all those dharnas and brouhaha in the parliament, we finally have an Anti-Corruption law, namely our Lokpal Bill. When flagged down for breaking traffic rules, we do not proceed to pinch a folded note in the traffic policeman’s (or woman’s) sweaty palms or to mention our top brass connections. When caught travelling without a ticket in public transport, we will never offer a bribe, at no cost. When we want our kids to get into the best school in the town, we offer no donations. We quote competitive prices for government contracts and tenders, and there is no under the table dealing. Yep, we are the corruption-free state, we are the Independent India.
Freedom from Hunger
Eating a banana (only because it’s affordable) on the move and considering it as a whole meal is wrong. Declaring that a meal is available for Rs. 12 when you have no clue of the reality is wrong. A politician brushing off the figure of malnourished kids in the state is wrong. It is inhumane to just have to watch and know that a person sleeping on the footpath has not had a proper meal, in who-knows-how-many-days. As we take a bite of ladoo or peda (because frankly, what’s a festival without sweets?) this 15th of August, don’t you forget, we are the Independent India.
Freedom from Inaction
“Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”
Yes! It is the time to act. It is the time to change. It is the time to do! We wish you a Happy Independence Day!
By: Shweta Shah
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