Rainbow Connection

Cause is Effect concealed, Effect is Cause revealed.

Monday, August 14, 2006

59 years of Freedom

Are we really free?

‘Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose’ sang Janis Joplin and rightly so says Samiyah Saud

It’s yet another day of celebration and festivities in admiration of the freedom struggle that took place 59 years ago, giving us the independence we are yet to enjoy. Yet to enjoy, because after all these years, your average Indian of today is probably thinking, ‘Are we really free?” With the recent chain of violent and ghastly tragedies the country has faced, it is only natural that we are filled with such doubts and worse, feelings of rage, distress and resentment. Let’s not forget that these tragedies aren’t very recent, because we all know that if one part of the country is peaceful, there is always some other part, that is facing inconceivable ordeals. It’s simple to lose track of how long the Kashmir issue has existed because you reach a point of saturation and then it becomes a way of life. And even if you still care, you know you are in no position to do anything about it as a mere citizen.

Today, as we celebrate Independence Day and 59 years of freedom, there’s still uncertainty of how many more battles we might have to fight before really enjoying the triumph passed down by our forefathers. And while our country vows of its “rich and varied heritage”, and claims that “all Indians are my brothers and sisters”, it barely lives up to its words. Civic apathy has transcended to a whole new level and the nation is forced to live with terrorism, natural disasters, corruption, poverty and list could go on.

While freedom can just be a state of mind, there’s still more to it when it involves an entire country. Many are still eagerly waiting for independence; from poverty, corruption, injustice, violence, et al. Over the years, it has been India giving refuge to globetrotters, but with a lack of gratitude from the same. Deliberate attempts have been made to destroy the oneness this nation offers. While we have all the possible communities living here, it is this deliberate disparity that allows differences and insecurities to creep in. There may be cultural harmony making this a united nation, but unity is highly overrated. Says Neharika Singh, a college student, (read ‘the future of the nation’), “We are not free. Freedom means to do anything and everything without imposing on another’s liberties. Going by this definition, freedom is anything but existent in its entity as today very few people stop to think of whether what they’re doing is affecting another or not.” Collin D’Cunha, a film student and an aspiring filmmaker reiterates, “We are not free from bureaucracy; till now freedom of expression is curbed, not in obvious ways, but in ways of censorship, political power or fear of political pressure. A common citizen cannot express himself or herself in any way, there is no sense of patriotism, given that we are constantly dealing with terrorism. Instead of going out there and enjoying myself, I’d rather sit safely at home.” While this is what the youth have to say about freedom, there’s more that grown ups include. David De Souza, a freelance photographer says, “While we are technically free, we are captive to fascism. That means someone thinking they are righter, more moral, more powerful, more connected and then deciding what is good and proper. But I would rather live here than in Burma or Angola!”

Mahesh Aney- popular cinematographer adds, “We are free, when you look at it on the whole. As a nation I am free; I can breathe, I can live, I can go out and get myself what I want. But then there are my evil politicians, who decide what to do, they decide my life, they decide how much money is to be spent. So we have a notional freedom we all live in although we are the biggest democracy in the world. As Janis Joplin sang, ‘Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose.’ It’s just about discerning how free I am from the system, from the politics and all the evils that it brings.”

The country promises equal opportunities for all and the very fact that we are open to globalisation shows that perception is changing and global players entering the market have faith in the system. Accountability is becoming one of the key factors in our country including in the government. Women have equal opportunity, equal say and their opinions are valued and valid. However, all these changes are seen only in the urban areas of the country. There is still a massive section of the country that is tagged as ‘backward’. Even as we are working towards development in all the possible fields, it is our sense of belonging to one country, one world and one universe that will see us through it all. It’s about time we start realising that we are one, together we suffer, together exist and forever will recreate each other.


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