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Essence of freedom: What independence means to people now

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By Meghna Nair

I believe our flag is more than just cloth and ink. It is a universally recognized symbol that stands for liberty, and freedom. It is the history of our nation, and it’s marked by the blood of those who died defending it.

John Thune

Photo Credit: @PratyashaNithin
Photo Credit: @PratyashaNithin

Sixty eight years as a free nation, as the leading example of democracy in the world; India has come a long way indeed. Over the years, generations have flourished and perished; ideals have been created and destroyed, but the spirit of independence, of freedom, liberty and equality has survived.

Since schooldays, we have rote-learned why August 15th is important. The history of the struggle of our brave forefathers is perhaps alive in every person’s heart and etched in every child’s mind. But, as everything else is, the sanctity of freedom, the meaning of liberty and independence is dynamic.

Does “independence” mean what it meant to the people back in the 1940s? Has the sanctity of the term remained intact and unchanged?

In essence, perhaps the idea has remained the same. But, to each person, the term independence means much more than plain freedom.

What does Independence mean to India’s netizens?

Independence is still a dream to achieve. As far as I’m concerned, we are still bound by social restraints of Indian society. ( Kanika Rangray)

How free is really free? Does sovereignty mean true independence? That is an important question we should ask ourselves. True, we are the world’s most populous democracy and we elect our own representatives. We have guaranteed fundamental rights that are safeguarded by our constitution. But are we really free?

Like Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s famous quote,

“Man was born free; and everywhere he is in chains.”

That is the irony of our lives. We believe we are free individuals, but we create our own little customs and social restraints and end up being bound by them. One can argue that yes, we are free because we create these “social restraints” and that ability in itself won’t be possible unless we are independent. Yes, but did we become independent so that we can enslave ourselves?

Independence is when I am not being constantly judged by my own people. Those eyes should only encourage me at every level. (Prerna Kapur)

Aristotle famously quoted that “Man is a social animal”. We all need society. We need company. No matter how much we deny or lie to ourselves, the truth is, no one would prefer living their life in solitude. This means we should understand that the same applies to others just as much as it does to ourselves.

Acceptance is liberating. To accept another individual, make him feel more included than ostracized is true freedom. Our nation was colonized, subjugated and exploited for more than 200 years. Why are we, despite having attained freedom, imparting the same treatment to our fellow countrymen?

The very foundation of colonialism and imperial subjugation was based on the premises of difference. They were white, we weren’t. They had a different kind of society, so did we. They considered themselves superior and subjugated us, but we fought and won our freedom. Does this mean our fellow countrymen have to struggle for acceptance? Is that why we attained independence?

Independence to me implies freedom from minority and majority appeasement vote bank politics, freedom to express fearlessly and freedom to move even during wee hours safely. (Neeru Bahl)

Democracy is perhaps, one of the most fitting systems for an independent nation. That is why our forefathers who framed the constitution chose democracy as a system of representation for the nascent nation.

Over years, India has undoubtedly grown as a democracy. The questions the society was afraid of asking are now openly asked. With time, there have been many changes and many more are yet to come. One just has to be optimistic and has to keep believing in the true spirit of freedom.

Independence is something which we don’t show but feel. It’s feeling of responsibility towards our nation. Our nation does not constitute us but we together constitute our nation. Hence being independent in turn gives us a lot more responsibility to contribute towards our society. (Anum Ansari)

As Uncle Ben in Spiderman taught us, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Independence means we are free and at the same time, we are responsible for the freedom of our fellow beings. A nation is not a tangible entity; it is given an identity by the people who constitute it. In that sense, a nation becomes the reflection of the people it is made of.

The Republic of India turns 69

As a nation, India has grown and has undoubtedly become a force to be reckoned with. But if our nation leaves a wrong impression somewhere, somehow as a society, it is our own fault. If today, our nation is plagued by social issues and political issues, it is because consciously or unconsciously we have enabled these problems. Maybe we should reflect upon the gravity of such situations and collectively approach them. There are no problems which can’t be solved.

As we gear up to celebrate our 69th Independence day, apart from silently remembering and paying tributes to our brave freedom fighters, we should also realize that our nation is part of our identity. You can take a man out of India, but you can’t take India out of the man. Let us all realize and experience independence in all senses of the term.

May India live long, may Indians prosper!

1 COMMENT

  1. In the column section there is an article – I guess it is called – “Essence of Freedom”. Five authors have commented on what freedom means to them. Of the five- four have referred works of others to emphasize their points. Megna Nair refers to one named John Thune.
    Kanika Rangaray refers one named Jean Jacques Rousseau. Prerna Kapur refers to Aristotle. Anum Ansari refers to Uncle Ben in Spiderman. Fifth commenter does not refer to any one but in case of any reference it would definitely be some one from the West. These are educated class of post independent India. In any intellectual exercise they can’t help refer to Western examples, western solutions, western values, western philosophy, western science. However trash and rotten that might be. Education- as it is used in India as planned by Mecaulay- has delinked the intellectual species of India from its country of origin. This so called “Educated Class” which Anna Hazare termed “KALA ANGREZ” is in control of India. Nothing great, nothing noble, nothing earthshaking, nothing good for nation can possibly come from them. First and the most important reform to be induced now is a widespread thoroughly Indianized education that will link Indians to India. So that Newsgram will get articles that refers to Dandemi and Kautilya, Kanad and Nagarjun; Raman and Satyen Bose; Jagadish Bose and Salim Ali; Ramanuj and Bhatnagar; Mahalanabish and Kaprekar; Waria and sheshadri. Few days ago one of the main stream media wrote an article- “Who was Satyen Bose”?. Your authors are schooled in Mecaulay type education hence they probably have never been exposed to India’s tradition. Why should they? The education in post 1947 India is to delink Indians from India. Education here is to transform a lion cub into a sheep. NEWSGRAM- it is your holy mission to inform Indians that education is being used to degrade the human resource. That is what needs revolutionary change to make conscious Indians who will know they are lion cubs.

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Asia Cup : India Emerge Champions for third time, Beat Malaysia in Asia Cup Hockey Championship

India emerged victorious for the third time

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(representational Image) India vs Malaysia Hockey Match wikimedia

Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India overcame Malaysia 2-1 in the final on Sunday to win the Asia Cup hockey championship for the third time.

Ramandeep Singh (3rd minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th) scored for India. Shahril Saabah (50th minute) scored the reducer for Malaysia. (IANS)

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.