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What Freedom Are We Celebrating?

Tomorrow is India's Independence Day. Across India, there are celebrations, flag hoisting events, speeches and lots of things that are planned for the day. In Delhi, the focus is more about security. Delhi's most important areas, particularly the commercial centers, are cordoned off early. Big movies are releasing this weekend, global retailers are offering great discounts and deals to shoppers on Independence Day, elite restaurants are offering tricolor menus that are priced at the most outrageous prices and schools are shut as its also a Saturday. The borders are closed off early,too.

About six years ago, when I celebrated Independence Day in Delhi for the first time, I experienced a total culture shock. In Kerala, which is the State where I came from, its just another typical holiday to watch blockbuster movies, meet friends, go and do chores that you need to complete, that sort of thing, not much of a big deal about Independence day as such.

In Delhi, my first feeling was that, "Is it such a big deal?" My office area was cordoned off as it was right in the heart of the commercial hub. The security personnel looked pretty intimidating and I found myself trembling as I passed them and moved to walk on the nearly deserted roads. I found that most shops were shut. There were cops everywhere scanning the area. Later that evening, my hubby and I went to watch a movie only to find that midway, cops were searching all the seats, with dogs and the works. Needless to say, the mood was sombre and I can't remember whether we really saw the movie. And i wondered then as I do now, what freedom are we really celebrating?

Six years have flown by. Very little has changed about the way Independence Day is celebrated or 'cordoned' off in this country. There is very little to cheer if you look at the number of terrorist attacks that have targeted metros across India to such an extent that now, you say a prayer when you get on a plane and you duck with fear when you hear a balloon pop.

This Independence, I think I will say a prayer for my country and my people. I think we need that to survive till the next year, considering we really have only ourselves to turn back to in emergencies.

Perhaps this is a pessimistic view but I have dear friends in Jammu and Kashmir, and across the country, who pledge their lives to fight for the country as part of the defence forces. They tell me they get no justice if one of them dies. The government, the politicians and the law doesn't give a damn. What freedom can we celebrate when this is how we treat the brave men and women who keep us safe? I don't know how to feel optimistic now.

As a proud Indian, I feel angry that freedom has really taught nothing to us, or perhaps, we have refused to learn what it means. Today, when the security breaches around us are breaking way easily and innocent people are dying because some terrorists want to frighten us as they did by bombing the Taj in Nov'08, maybe its a good time to reflect and learn what history has failed to convince us. Sometimes, the path to real freedom lies with us, not with a government or those who lead it. It all starts and ends with the choices we make, we meaning, all of us.

The question is: Are we ready to learn?

Comments

Shamrez Zack said…
All of us in the world need each other's prayers to survive our days... such is the state of affairs with frightening growth of radical groups (monetory and mass... add pandemic flu to that..

Way the things stand, it seems taht the gigantic mistake of partition is gonna haunt forever...

Nonetheless its another Independence Day with more hope and dreams...

Happy Independence Day!!! :)
Quite clearly, we've not learnt and nothing has changed. But I don't find your argument regarding the men in uniform, quite substantial. They took the oath. They chose to put themselves in harm's way. If they are killed in action, they're nothing less than heroes. I sound too rude and insensitive but this is the truth. I myself wanted to join the Army so my wavelength of thought and yours could be a tad different.

I understand the way you feel but the converse may not be true coz I have just too many people in uniform. We've lost people in combat. Although we feel sorry about what happened, we feel absolutely PROUD of them coz not many of us would do something like that and they heeded to the call of duty with all they had. Forget the government, the Army as an organization does a lot and most often than not, goes out of its way to ease the pain and suffering of having lost a dear one. Trust me on that.
Coming to seeking justice, try putting that into context in the Kargil war. It was one of the finest and toughest battles fought by the Indian Army.
Again, I didn't mean to sound rude or insensitive but this s the way I see things.

A very Happy Independence Day to you too!

P.S: Please read up the Chetwode motto that gentlemen Cadets take, at the IMA during the passing out parade. A few things should be clearer then.
Oh very well written! Where is our patriotism? Where is our respect for our freedom? Our pride in our country, our awe at the sacrifices made, our tears for the lives laid down?

It's a depressing state of affairs.

And yet, when one hears the words "Jana Gana Mana"...you can't help but hold your head an inch higher, straighten out your spine that much more and let the words fill you from head to toe.

It gives us hope. Something to believe in. Something to pass on to our children.

Happy Independence Day!
GentleLavender said…
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts on this post.

@Shamrez: Yes,I think you summed it up well by stating that its another Independence Day with more hope and dreams. I totally agree with you. As a nation, we can't abandon our dreams. We need to believe in them and move forward to make it happen.

@globalperception: Your perspective is interesting. The point of blogging is to learn from different perspectives. We may not agree but we can learn from each other about what to disagree. I think this symbiotic relation is what comprises the best part of blogging and commenting. And about Kargil War, you are right. Its one of the toughest and best battles our Indian army won. I will try to read about the motto u suggested. Thanks a ton for letting me know about that.

@Mamma mia: You are totally right. Everytime I hear our national anthem, I feel my heart burst with pride. I feel like telling the whole world with joy, "I am an Indian. This is my beautiful country, filled with a million paradoxes, but she is mine and I am hers forever."
Discovering M said…
well written ! enjoyed reading it ! over the past few years i have been the victim of the 'patriotism' bug.

ever since independence - WE are responsible for our own miseries and successes - not anyone else - and THAT in a way IS freedom !

jai hind ! jai ho ! jai.... :)

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