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Essence of freedom: What independence means to people now

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!

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