Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Fight For Freedom

Not for the first time did my eyes fill with tears and chest expand with pride and joy at the sight of our beautiful tricolour flag unfurling on India’s 61st Independence Day. I always have been and always will be proud of being an Indian. I have great respect for our Motherland’s rich and varied cultural heritage and have often delighted in traveling across many states of India, taking in the different sights, tastes and smells of each one of Her wonderful provinces.

On this Independence Day, hearing the song, “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisaan”, my eyes filled yet again with tears. Only this time, it was for a very different reason. I thought of the dismal, in fact, abysmal condition of our beloved nation today. I reminisced about all those valiant freedom fighters who unflinchingly accepted the handman’s noose and wore it around their necks like a ‘Jayamala’, a garland signifying victory. I reflected on Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, who verily breathed for the cause of the nation’s Independence.

We have been an independent nation for the last six decades. Granted that India has achieved and accomplished much during these years. But can we really take pride on our independence? Are we really, truly, Independent in every sense of the term?

“Jai Jawan, Jai Kisaan”? Do we even think of the enormous difficulties our jawans face at the border? They lay down their lives protecting the country against invaders – yet their families can never be assured of security and protection! And how about the ‘kisaan’ who commits suicide as he cannot even afford to provide his families a single square meal a day? Does our democracy even consider their sad plight?

The Mahatma had once remarked that India would become truly independent in every sense only when a woman could walk the streets alone at any time of the night, without as much as a speck of fear in her mind. This is a country that, today, sadly abounds with gory tales of female infanticide, dowry deaths and gang rapes of little children. Is this a sign of a truly Independent nation?

We oft times hero worship goondas, who support and abet terrorist activists; who consequently cause the cold-blooded murder of countless blameless souls. Are these offenders any better than the perpetrators of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre?

Some common criminals who have been responsible for slaying numerous innocents rule us. Their fault? They cast their vote for a different party! Yet we have only ourselves to blame – after all, this is a democracy and we brought them to power, right? Is this what we call true Independence?

These and other thoughts kept playing in my head as the song played on. Of course, there is hope yet - India is at last, definitely waking from its long slumber. Today, there are many who adopt girl children, many who dare to put their foot down against avaricious dowry-seekers, many who raise their voice against corruption. We are definitely making long strides in science and technology, sports and so on. The Wheel of Fortune finally seems to be slowly, yet steadily, turning in India’s favour.

We are the younger generation - the wealth of this vast nation. The onus of bestowing India Her real Independence lies entirely on us. Is it not our solemn duty to forge ahead and Fight for Freedom – for our own freedom as well as for the freedom of our revered Bharat Mata? Jai Hind!

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