On the occasion of our proud 71st year of independence, it is vital to retrospect on our long and rich history and ponder, if in this liberal democracy, we are truly free, both personally and publicly.
The foundations of our homeland lie in the legendary pages of the world’s longest written book of rules and regulations, the honourable Constitution of India. The same tome which talks about guaranteed fundamental rights and the duties that surrounds them, also talks about state control and stringent provisions for certain conflict ridden zones under the umbrella of its sovereign territory. As students and young political citizens, mostly presiding in a bubble that is carefully protected by the like mindedness of our fellow peers we tend to ignore the comings and goings of how much independence we are allowed to indulge in. This sheltered existence creates a false sense of security and misleads perceptions around how dependent an individual is in the society when it comes to the choices they are making.
When one talks of freedom and the hundred different notions that exist around it, very utopian and pleasant discernments come to mind. What we fail to acknowledge and understand is that Independence Day is not just a day of nationalist pride. It signifies a sentiment that is powerful and meaningful. It signifies history that aimed to bring about a significant change. When we sit back and contemplate and draw a comparison between the then and now of things, the question of how much has been achieved and actualised in the last 70 years of independence comes to mind. There is an obvious and glaring disparity between how things are and how they ought to be and while we observe this disparity closely everyday, we choose to willingly turn a blind eye towards it.
To this date, the issue of reservation remains contentious, with current enduring protests and active debate around the same. Even now, our society is deeply rooted by the shackles of the patriarchy, with political leaders blaming women for crimes they did not commit, and men being deprived of adequate mediums of expression and therapy, because there exist few forums to discuss their emotional needs. Compared to the societal standards that subsisted when India celebrated its independence for the first time, the reality revealed is distressing and incommodious. Material progress for the sake of progress has been made, but the much awaited development has not yet been achieved.
Every decision (no matter the nature or degree of its personal or communal nature) an individual takes in this society is social. We are, without the luxury of choice, a part of a social contract, making us dependent on the state and the society for our day to day survival, and obligating those in power to sustain us and provide us with security. The dependence in this matter however, goes both ways. Those in power are dependent on those seeking necessities to ensure their power sustains.
This vicious cycle of dependence seems never ending and poses the following questions:
Does freedom in status quo imply the freedom to make your own choices, or the freedom to make governed choices? And are we too dependent on the state or the society to help us formulate our independent thoughts?
This Independence Day, it is time we think about all that we have achieved as a nation and how much of it is truly impactful.