How Independent is Independence?

That’s certainly a weird question to ask especially on the eve of Independence Day. But think about it and you would know what I’m trying to articulate. Sure, India got its political freedom 65 years ago from foreign rule, but how free we are as individuals or even to win other freedoms including the freedom from poverty, corruption, inequality, injustice and exploitation – remains a big question!

Colour of freedom???

Colour of freedom???

That’s because we live in a society that will never allow us to be free. Even after our basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing are met, we can never be completely free in our quest for “self-realisation.”

That’s because our actions are governed by societal laws, cultural norms and values which impose obligations, duties and responsibilities.

We are tied in shackles of terrorism, false ideologies, corruption, communal violence, and class – caste distinctions among other things. We tend to forget that independence is not only living freely but also allowing others to live freely.

Our freedom is always a paradox, bound by the freedom of others. In an interdependent society, Total freedom or Purna Swaraj will always remain an illusion.  But this illusion turns out to be a reality in itself. We are born free and, through our bonding or desire, we create this reality which imprisons us in every way. That reminds me of Rousseau‘s dramatic remarks: “Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.”

But even while living in an interdependent society, we can attain some amount of concord by being change agents. And this should be practiced even in our simple day to day living. We take pride in western culture ignoring our own. We admire the tourist places of foreign countries ignoring our own national heritage. Often times I hear my contemporaries even regret being born in India and how ‘other’ countries provide ample opportunities of work and life.

This kind of attitude will lead our country nowhere. The need of the hour is a unified India – where everyone should contribute towards the development of the nation in his /her own little way. I mean the youth in particular who personifies diligence, novelty and innovation should come forward and be the change agents. Utopia? Not really, Can make it happen if we have the will!

So, this Independence day let us by all means salute the freedom that India attained after an enormous struggle and bloodshed.  And while doing so, let us also salute the infinitely greater freedom that lies within us so that we can act upon it and make the country a much better place to live in.

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