Wednesday, 7 October 2015

A Struggle For Freedom

I am a logophile J

Yet, I do not fully understand, the meaning of freedom and independence, living in modern India. Let me write a line, to explain my dilemma.

We won independence in 1947.

Can we replace the word independence with freedom?

I am talking of freedom, not as a lofty ideal that our constitution proclaims or of the Ayn Rand variety, but a basic, bare bones and essential variety necessary for the survival of a functional society.
The freedom to sketch cartoons, without being afraid of jail term. The right to choose life partner irrespective of gender. The choice of meat and not being branded a criminal for doing so. The dress one can wear in public and not getting called a slut. The ability to browse the internet, without big brother monitoring it. The choice of books, movies, plays and every other choice that does not harm the existence of any fellow citizen.

Freedom should be a pillar of our democracy, yet it is being increasingly threatened by people, who take an exception to civilized way of life. And, we ( I mean the educated, sophisticated and arm chair intellectuals) are party responsible to it. We are selective in our outrage, when an essential tenet to freedom is knocked down, if it does not concern us. This leads to a situation, where divisive elements of the society think, that they can get away with any mischief.

Increasingly, I see that the younger generation (including mine) seems to be more polarized than the previous generations. I was having a discussion with a few acquaintances, about the freedom of speech. While I am for absolute freedom, I was told that it would, somehow not work in the Indian context as it does in the western countries, because our ‘sentiments’ get hurt easily, which can lead to law being broken.  Another discussion, lead to statements like ‘Pakistan was created for believers of a certain religion and they should all go there’. These statements come from literate people, who have prestigious degrees and work at MNC’s. Perhaps as a nation, we seem to be getting more literate and less educated at the same time.

A section of the media thinks that the coming of a right wing government at the center is the root cause of this decline and hatred. But, suddenly a large section of secular people cannot turn communal overnight. This poison tree of hatred has to be nurtured for a long time, to bear the fruits of destruction. No single political party is solely responsible for this, all of them have nurtured it with a lies and frenzy, while we as a society saw it grow by turning a blind eye.

We have a prime minister, who is a good orator and regularly speaks his ‘Man ki baat’ on radio or in front of cheering (and largely sympathetic) crown of NRI’s in foreign lands. If ever he finds some time, he can reflect upon the fact, that he can act as the moral compass for the 125 crore people, whom he refers to as ‘Mitron’. His condemnation of acts like Dadri, would go a long way in assuaging the fears and anxieties of the general populace, and send a strong message to the mischief makers.

As a society, we are not able to fully comprehend the meaning of these incidents.  People like us are increasingly losing the secular argument, on a regular basis. Young men, with half-baked sense of history and perceived injustices to their forefathers, are not ready to give up violent ideals and have a sensible conversation. Each such attack on freedom induces a bigger tear in the secular fabric of our nation, until a day will come, where we shall become a Hindu version of Pakistan.

Nature and life has a way of taking away from us, what we do not use. The question is whether we are ready to fight for our freedom or ready to meekly surrender it at the feet of anyone, who can outshout us.