India has grown up yet another year as an Independent Nation. Since it has crossed one more milestone and become 63 years old as a Democratic, Independent Country let’s try to find out if we are independent only in letters of the book or are we actually franchised in spirit .Has independence only been a matter of having a government and a right to vote or are we free to carry forth our individuality in person and in character?

What I feel  as a part of the younger squad is the fact that on one hand we have not been able to make good use of our freedom while on the other, we have used this freedom a bit too much to have led to the curbing of others’ independence.

We are still not franchised as we are governed by irrationality of thoughts and opinions not only at the individual level but also on the democratic front.

The “Khap Panchayats” dominance of getting same gotra marriages banned and well educated MP’s (Navin Jindal) standing in favor of khaps is a testimony to the fact that we do not possess the independence of moving ahead of castism and communism to a much liberal and secular society.

We may have become liberalized in trade and we may argue to be united in diversity, these tall claims just offer themselves as plain written words not standing up to their promise.

Not only this, the very fact that two people of different castes who see themselves getting married to each other can actually ignite their respective families to go on  to taking their own children’s’ life on account of their infidelity to the society  considering it to be a sin, not even  pardonable by God. It is painful to see that there have been 462 cases of Honor Killings in the last year.

Even more rueful is the fact that after 63 years of independence, more than half the population of our country has been bounded by the clutches of lack of purchasing power to be unable to buy two square meals a day. Perhaps this is the biggest irony as on one hand we cannot provide grains to most of our population, making them go hungry to bed, while on the other, we have so much accumulation of food grains that we let hundreds of tons of wheat rot every year.

Our country may be known as the largest democracy but when it comes to possessing democratic ideas- we do lack them.

We are still hugely influenced by the narrow thoughts that it is only a male child who blesses the family with good luck…needless to say what’s being done to the girl child.

But then we take our independence a bit too casually that works good to curb other’s independence. It has become an everyday spectacle of politicians and influential figures making offensive use of their freedom of speech. Be it nasty tweeting or calling Afzal Guru, a political party’s son-in-law; our democratic and immediate history is replete with such over use of one’s freedom.

We also consider ourselves so independent that we can’t abstain from taking the divine decision of when a person should live or die. We can easily take our daughter’s life since she has committed a sin of loving someone from the lower caste.

Many a times the lure of money makes us so bold that we become independent from all the oaths we took while taking over a responsible seat. What better example than the ongoing commonwealth games can be produced when even the highest of the high officials has been tainted with the vice of corruption?

And well these are only certain circumstances where our ‘over freedom’ leads to curtailment of others rights.

After 63 years we call ourselves a superpower marching on a road to economic progress and financial stability exemplifying all this with high GDP growth. We may also be one of the fastest growing economies, but this shouldn’t be enough to make us joyous as the greatest achievement that our country needs to make is liberalization of our mind, heart and spirit well conceived by Rabindranath Tagore – “…Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high …
….into that Heaven of freedom… let my country awake.

Let’s hope and work for the awakening of this spirit…

Juhi Gupta

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