Today, my nation turns 70 years old. Seventy years of freedom. Yes, this does call for celebration, for our freedom from 200 years of British rule didn’t exactly come easy. And if the price of what you get is determined by what you had to give up to get it, our freedom came at the cost of many wars fought, lives lost and sacrifices made. As a 20 – something Indian living in a modern day free India, I can’t possibly imagine what it might have been to live in the days of the Raj , where you were a either a servant or an opponent to the British.
While I thank my stars that I was born in these times, there’s something that doesn’t exactly make me very happy about staying in today’s India too, and calling myself a ‘free’ citizen. Because if there’s one thing that I have to come to realise, it is that freedom is a relative term.
The Indian Constitution describes the country as Sovereign, Socialist, Secular Democratic Republic . In other words, a country that is wholeheartedly committed to the well being of its citizens, ensuring fairness, harmony and equality to all. Also,calling Itself the world’s largest democracy clearly implies that the country belongs to no one person, rather ‘of the people, by the people and for the people. ‘
Then why is it today that there are politicians getting away with corruption, scandals and in some cases even heinous crimes?
Freedom to choose who runs the country, not to question them when they don’t deliver on what they promised to.
Where at one end of the spectrum, we have farmers committing suicide as their last resort to dealing with extreme poverty, and at the other end there are so-called ‘Godmen’ with luxury cars , designer wardrobes and 5 star lifestyles financed clearly by black money? Freedom to earn money, irrespective of the means.
Where in one part of the country, female deities are worshipped, and in another they are also regularly dishonoured in the form of infanticide, rape, domestic violence. Freedom to exist, but not to live safely or with respect.
Why is it that that we have multiple states religious and castes to divide us, but the only thing that unites us is a cricket match or a terrorist attack? Freedom to decide our own level of patriotism, to our country.
And there can be so many more such instances and examples, where in one India, live many Indias. And no, I’m not blaming the government, neither I am blaming the people. I am blaming an entire system of thought, beliefs and practices, where everyone including myself is to blame, a system that unfortunately has gotten so deeply embedded in our society that it’s almost led to a vicious cycle of freedom misuse.
As Spiderman said, ‘ With great power, comes great responsibility‘. Same with Freedom, I’d say. In my opinion, the misuse of freedom is even more detrimental than the misuse of power. For the misuse of power is usually by a person or persons at the top, but the misuse of freedom can be by masses. Also , the misuse of freedom is a far more contagious one. It starts from one, spreads to a few, and then it is only a matter of time before we’re all engulfed.
And that’s when and where i want to step back and ask myself , Yes, its a free country, but are we really free. And at the cost of sounding pessimist, will we ever be?