August 15, 2018 marked the 72nd Independence Day. We have come a long way from that rainy August day in 1947 when we managed to regained control of our Motherland. It is true that we are one of the world’s most thriving Democracy, a vibrant Economy and a Republic with deep roots. But how do we interpret Independence today. It is true the tryst and struggled of our forefathers are gone but Independence has varying interpretations.
The dictionary says Independence is freedom from a controlling authority, to be rid of legal dependence on a master. But in that context, are we really liberated? As citizens of a free country do we feel the euphoria that our forefathers sensed when the Tricolour was hoisted for the first time on midnight August 15, 1947? Unfortunately, the British may have gone but their legacy of control continues in myriad ways that both pains and denigrates us as proud citizens of this free country.
Most of the stories that I heard from my grandparents is about religious tolerance that India has championed for centuries. But today secularism is increasingly becoming synonymous with intolerance and radical religious affiliations. It does not matter whether you are Hindu or Muslim, Christian or Sikh, it is sad that religion is becoming the defining point of your entity and existence. It is shameful that our politicians are stooping to fathomless lows in an effort to divide the electorate on religious lows. How are they any different from what the British did when they tried dividing the country on the basis of religion? At least at that time, the nation came together as one unified force so powerful that the decision had to be annulled in 1905. Sadly, just the reverse is happening today. We, the citizens are actually falling for these agenda driven political and literary initiatives.
Literature today is no longer a unifying force. It is about garnering greater eyeballs and generating more copies. The business is all that matters. Suddenly ethics, integrity and dedication are offered as ransom in the altar of profitability. There were days when the entire country woke up to the call of Anandamath or Iqbal’s powerful verses. Tagore’s freedom songs became the battle cry for many. But can we expect to see such sense of oneness today? I think, our biggest loss is gaining political freedom is the gradual erosion of the sense of unity as a country. We are happy as independent segments. Why blame Kashmir alone, tell me which state is not keen about highlighting its dominance over another?
The need of the hour is to shun this segmentation. If we really value our Independence, it is necessary to nurture it with unity and team spirit. As Tagore said in his famous poem, we have to strive to make our country that heaven
“Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth ……
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action…”
So while you remember the dress code for that special day, let us also remember to do our bit towards taking this forward and bring about a mass awakening.