Aug 15, 2009
August 15 is approaching and once again India is celebrating its independence day with the usual celebrations that have lost much of its meaning and the rhetoric which has also lost much of its sheen. No doubt it is occasion that makes every Indian proud of being free from the servility of the imperial power that ruled us for nearly 3 centuries. However there are several unanswered questions that make us uneasy and squirm as we happily move on mouthing platitudes of having attained independence.
Just as the entire nation is going to celebrate Independence Day there are more Indians who must be asking questions to themselves and to our netaas who guide the destiny of this great nation, “Are Indians really independent even after 62 years of independence, what independence mean to most of us or how independent are we. Have we strived to achieve the ideals we had set for ourselves”?.
Independence in the true sense
The answer to these and many more such questions is both yes and no. Speaking to a cross section of the people it is evident that “No” outweigh the yes factor. We are independent when it comes to the field of art, literature (with a question mark) science and technology etc. But we are dependent on religion for most part, on vote bank politics, caste and reservations, dependent on American imperialism and their approval to deal with the issue of terrorism in our own country..…….and the list goes on.
When the same question was posed to freedom fighter B V Kakkilaya he went hammer and thongs pouring out his disappointment at the way we India has conducted itself since independence. “Freedom means proper progress of the people, their right to education, right to employment, right to live, right to work and right to free movement. Today in our country freedom in all fronts is being eroded. Can we call it freedom when people go hungry, farmers commit suicide, when youngsters don’t get opportunity to educate themselves or women are beaten publicly in the altar of morality? The number of criminals and crorepatis are on the increase in the parliament whereas a poor person cannot even think of contesting elections. So how can we say we Indians are independent in the true sense” asks this deeply hurt nanogerian whose memory is razor sharp and intact.
He further adds “It is pathetic to see young students who have just completed their SSLC are on strike in the premises of Mangalore University demanding college seats for them. Unless we succeed in providing these basic necessities the very meaning of freedom is lost”. While the younger generation is not truly perturbed or concerned over the issue of what freedom and independence entails, most of them view it in the narrow sense of the term. The infamous pub attack which brought ignominy to Mangalore finds a mention everywhere when youngsters talk about freedom and independence. But in reality freedom goes beyond the realm of going to the pub, disco or enjoying at parties. We have poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, inequality, of opportunity, child labour, recession, rising population to deal with. Terrorism is the biggest enemy lurking at our doorstep creating mayhem. We Indians live in an atmosphere of fear and threat to our existence. Our farmers commit suicide, a large majority of our people is deprived of a roof over their head, proper food or basic health care facilities.
“We can call ourselves free and independent only when we feel safe and secure and are able to lead a decent life without worrying too much about where our next meal is going to come from”, says Gaurav Raj, an engineering student who has recently landed up a job in Bangalore.
Is the future really bleak?
Prof K V Nagaraj of the department of Mass Communication and Journalism, Mangalore University is very ruthless in his views on the way we Indians have conducted ourselves since independence. “We are still slaves of the feudal structure. Nearly 40% of the population lives under dismal conditions. Even the so called middle class is keeping quiet and is being tightlipped. We have become prisoners of greed and consumerism. Within Bharat there are many mini Bharaths. There are multiple divisions within the society which are detrimental to our unity and integrity, Prof Nagaraj points out.
Prof Nagaraj has some harsh words reserved for the media. “The mainstream media has gone corrupt. It was very much during the recent general elections that the media has become a part and parcel of corporate world which is full of machinations. Ours is a society of “sellation”, where channels sell dreams 24X7. Now the only scope left is the alternate media like small newspapers, independent radio stations etc., which needs to wake up to the responsibility it has”, he opines.
So is the future really bleak? Prof Nagarj says that the future of our country is the hands of young people. They have to raise their voice. Today’s younger generation is impotent. Naxalism has raised its head in the country because of the widening social and economic divide. “Younger generation should not become prisoners of America. They should become the torch bearers of Indian dreams. Or else this country is going to be cut into pieces”, he cautions.
Chancellor of Nitte University N Vinaya Hegde says in no uncertain terms: “We have not even reached 50% of the expectations which the people believed the country will be able to fulfill after independence. Though there is a substantial increase in the percentage of middle class nearly 50% of the population live below poverty line in our country. The benefit of economic growth has been overshadowed by our inability to eradicate poverty. This is not what Independent Indians aspired for”.
Vinaya Hegde attributes it to the limitations of a democracy which is not the best form of government. In an underdeveloped country democracy gives too much leniency for people to non-perform. At the same time it is right of the people to have democratic way of governance. “China has overtaken India though India was better placed than China when they became independent. The root cause of this non-performance is mainly due to the unstable government we had both at the centre and state and also due to rampant corruption pervading our everyday life”.
Collective Efforts Needed
Needless to say the pledges of yesteryears remain unfulfilled and the ambition of the greatest man of our generation Gandhi to wipe away the tears from the eyes of majority if not every Indian remains only a distant dream. We are facing the dearth of strong leadership of the stature of Mangal Pandey, Azad, Swami Vivekananda, Tilak, Gandhi, Bose and Nehru who strived to make India independent. A strong leadership would help guide us move in the right path eschewing everything that is greedy and destructive and assimilating that which is in the best interest of the nation.
What we need is a collective effort and a capable leadership that can help us to withstand the difficulties and adversities. People with vision and the zest to work for the betterment of the society should be given a chance to serve the country. It is time every Indian decides to arise, awake, think and act in a manner that makes all Indians proud of being the citizens of an independent India. Only then Independence has true meaning for Indians. Jay ho! Independent India on its 63rd birthday !
Independence Day Special from Daijiworld Archives: