August 16, 2015

When will our Independence Day come?

Our independence from the British came 68 years ago but when will it come from everything else?

Husbands oppressing wives, parents oppressing children, educational institutions oppressing thought, state oppressing speech, and not to mention the widespread oppression due to caste, creed and community politics--there is a hierarchy of oppression that is only growing, and growing rapidly. So what exactly are we celebrating year in and year out by wearing 'Indian clothes', singing the National Anthem, pinning the flag to our lapels and performing cultural events at schools, homes and offices?

One can say that we are celebrating the defenders of our freedoms--those who got us our independence from the Raj, and also those who are currently serving in the Armed Forces--but are they the only ones?

What about the many who are missed because they don't belong to a named group or aren't flattered by the media--ordinary people who strive everyday to make our country more equal and more just by doing simple things that impact larger communities and people without a voice. We don't thank them because we don't know them. They are, sadly, a minority and most importantly, they aren't loud.

Quotes and posts abound on Facebook of Tagore's 'Where the Mind is Without Fear'. It brings a tear and chokes us especially on August 15th, but shouldn't it bring a greater cry, a louder cry throughout the year because it remains a distant dream? Shouldn't it turn into an uproar until it becomes reality?

For that, we need to kick 'Habit', the dreary habit that won't let us stop, think and question.

On this 'Independence Day', I promise myself that I will strive for a truly free life for my children--one where they can question anyone and anything that stands in the way of their freedoms, one where they can learn whatever they want and however they want, and one where they can freely love irrespective of anything else.

Freedom, knowledge and love--isn't that independence? And not just one day every year, but everyday and for everyone. That, is true independence. And it will come.