This day, the 15th of August, as we celebrate our 62nd Independence Day, I am sitting here in the capital of our country, thinking about what independence means to us individually as citizens and collectively as a nation.
What does independence mean to us as citizens? Was it merely the transition of power that happened in 1947, from British rule to self rule? Is it a mere relic, a casual remembrance of an event that happened 61 years back, or crudely put, a mere public holiday to relax? Or is it freedom of thought and expression and freedom from fear? Does it mean economic empowerment? Or does it mean social development?
As a citizen of this nation, independence for me today means an independence from fear -- are we free from fear? Do I know I will be alive tomorrow? The answer is a big NO. We are not free. We as a nation are being held hostage to fear coming from various ideological movements that threaten the fabric of the very freedom our forefathers fought for. Successive spineless rulers are solely responsible for our "slavery" to fear. They have have made India a "soft state", a place where any Tom, Dick or Harry has been virtually granted a right to violent expression at the expense of an ordinary Indian. The encouragement of religious politics and "minorityism" at the cost of national interest has been the root cause of this. That is why Indian citizens were subjected to the humiliation at Kandahar, of numerous terror attacks, of countless release of militants to free influential hostages and of a systemic failure to curb naxalism.
Gandhi said that we are a peace-loving nation and that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. In today's scenario, we can't just give ourselves away that we lose both our eyes. Wouldn't it be better that if one of our eyes is taken away, we blind the enemy in one eye, so that he doesn't return for our second eye? We have had enough of this idealism for 61 years of our so called freedom. Gandhi was certainly a great man, we all respect him, but I am sorry, we Indians can't give our "eyes" away. So our ruling class better take notice.
Nothing can happen in country where heroes are not respected and honored. We continue to pay homage to sons of dynasties, who did little for the country besides organised extortion. But we forget the real heroes who die guarding our borders in appalling conditions. We forget heroes like Field Marshall Sam Maneckshaw, who gave India one of its finest victories in military history. Nothing can become of a nation that forgets its heroes.
Nothing can happen in a country where traitors who supported the Chinese aggression against our country today hold positions of power in Parliament, hold the country to ransom and brazenly take positions detrimental to the nation.
Nothing can happen in a country where I cannot travel to certain places, cannot have ownership rights in certain states and where locals are displaced on the basis of religion, with the state being a mute spectator? We had for decades taken a moral high ground on issues like the South African Apartheid in global fora, yet we shamelessly practise a Apartheid against our own people within our own land.
Today we take pride in a booming economy. We take pride in being recognised as an economic might in the world. Indeed, India has changed. India has seen economic freedom in the last two decades. There have been multiplier effects on job creation and opportunities as a result of outsourcing of manufacturing, technology and services as result of which the common citizen does feel economically empowered.
But economic freedom and freedom from fear go hand in hand. One can never be really free without freedom from fear.
So while we "celebrate" the anniversary of an event that happened 61 years ago, we Indians still yearn for our TRUE INDEPENDENCE from fear.