Freedom @ 70

It is that time of the year when every second car has a tricolour fluttering; social media sports either people dressed up in tricolour or changing their display pic to flag pnemonics. It is the time when websites, newspapers rehash the old pics, list of patriotic songs and obviously Nehru’s speech of “tryst with destiny”. Powerful and goose-bumpy it was, the core of the speech “responsibility” towards “people of India” remains forgotten by their representatives. While people proudly stand up for the national anthem, the respect towards the flag and anthem seems to be diminishing. Why – those very flags after the eventful day are seen lying on the roads tattered or in the garbage dumps – when till a decade back, the common man had no right to hoist a flag. The responsibility to know the flag code of india is equally important as is the right to proudly hoist, display the tricolour. And every political party is in a race to own the kindred spirit and valiance of forgotten freedom fighters.

In the 69 years of Independence, while the nation has progressed towards 21st century, the core of the country probably still remains rooted in the erstwhile centuries. The abject poverty, access to clean drinking water, healthy food and clean houses with sanitation services, right to education still remains a dream. We see people living below the flyovers, on sides of the road – cooking in the steam of pollution emanating from our vehicles. When we travel by the train into the heartland, we pass by houses clothed in darkness as we go to sleep and looking for a place for morning ablutions as we wake up.

We see rage and hatred on the roads, in the families and on social media. We read about the threat and injustice to women in newspapers as they go on living their lives. While we gained freedom from Britain, we became slaves to corruption, greed and intolerance.

We want our houses to be clean but not our roads and localities. We want to be heard but not hear. We want the right to criticise but not to take responsibility. We want to be wealthy but not others around us. We want to be treated kindly but not treat others kindly. We want the right to follow our faith, but question other religions.

The preamble to Indian Constitution succinctly states the rights of people of India – justice, liberty, equality and fraternity – the very tenets for which war of Indian Independence was fought. And today, this remains a textbook reading, good to talk about but not to practice.

I love the following lines by Rabindranath Tagore:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high

Where knowledge is free

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments

By narrow domestic walls

Where words come out from the depth of truth

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way

Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit

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.

It is this dream and pledge that still remains to be fulfilled, and till then we truly cannot celebrate our Independence or freedom! I am proud to be Indian, but cannot call myself a proud Indian today!

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