65 years of independence, 65 years since we shooed away the British. 65 years, since trains pulled up at railway stations, loaded with dead bodies. 65 years since everyone wanted to kill each other.
We, the youth of India, are a safe 60-something years away from all the violence, bloodshed and gore. But are we really free, in every sense of the word?
In a country where people wearing Armani sunglasses and holding Gucci bags look out of their BMW windows only to see beggars and slums, in a country where a law graduate’s throat was slit because she put up a fight against a rapist, in a country where brides are burnt in kitchen fires over dowry issues, in a country where honour killing is considered honourable, in a country where modernity is given the tag of promiscuity, in a country where politics is a mud-slinging arena, FREEDOM, in its truest form, cannot exist.
From the very beginning of the the day, to the very end- we find ourselves ensnared in various violations of the term freedom. From the haggling with the uncouth autowalas, to the formidable looking aunties pushing you out of the queue at the ticket counter; from the steady line of eyes peeping into the women’s compartment in the metro, to the judgement and competition between cousins; from the rude personal remarks your teacher makes at you before the whole class, to the back-stabbing between friends; from “customer care” services that put your call on hold for the next hour or so, to power cuts and unfair billing, we live each day only to discover it’s a man-eat-man world.
I refuse to believe that there is even a single teenager in this country, who at some point or the other, hasn’t considered “Lucknow wale chachaji aur delhi wali maamiji kya kahenge” before making a decision- be it about a piercing, a haircut, an outfit, or his/her career.
I refuse to believe there is a single teenager who has never felt a violation of his or her freedom of choice and expression.
DUTA (Delhi University Teacher’s Association) and DUSU (Delhi University Students Union) apparently did not get a say in the decision of semesterisation of undergraduate courses in Delhi University that was made a year back. And now, WE are the ones living it’s consequences (read: inflation of marks scam).
The great Indian illusion of independence and freedom shatters to reality every time a young girl is made to wear traditional clothes and forced to carry a tray of biscuits and chai into a drawing room full of prospective in-laws. It falls to pieces every time a rape survivor is blamed because her clothes were “provocative”. It breaks down even further every time parents tell their child not to play the guitar or play sports or paint or write, and practise chemical equations instead. It decays every time a mausiji or buaji wrinkles her nose at the idea of her nephew/niece pursuing a humanities course.
And what do the elderly have to say this?
“Bharat ke paas ek aisi cheez hai, jo videsh mein nahi milegi- hamaare sanskaar!”
“Ab aaj kal ke bacche raat mein pub jaayenge, toh ye sab toh hoga hi na!”
Girls being physically assaulted at a pub in Bangalore by the Sri Ram Sena activists, does not look like sanskaar to me. Couples deciding not to meet on Valentine’s Day for fear of being dragged to temples by the same Sena, does not look like sanskaar to me.
True, if sanskaar is to discriminate, violate, and suppress- then there is no country like India.