We have just entered our 70th year of independence, and the struggle for the initial leg of it was quite exhaustive and extensive. A sudden sense of realization hit me yesterday, when I watched the much acclaimed movie, Gandhi. I witnessed the struggles, the violence, the once-united turned conflicted, in a short span of days and with the still daunting decision of the partition. Partition was a tough decision, something that broke our father of nation, and something that uprooted many families and their memories. The materialism of it can be forgotten with time, what remains is the scary memories, still dismaying.
My grandmother’s sister remembers her struggles and her compromises on her modesty and gold, when she moved from Lyallpur to India’s Punjab. She was molested, harassed, disrespected and stolen from, she witnessed the ugly face of humanity, something that still remains alive in her memories, even when she is forgetting everything else due to the age factor.
People, collectively of India and Pakistan, compromised on a lot of things, to achieve what was wanted. To free us of the reins of British and to refute the supremacy of those who aren’t even the part of our country. However, a thought struck me yesterday-
Are the reins being held by someone else now, since the British are no longer in the picture? Did the power and supremacy get transferred in the chaos of democracy of what comprises India?
Though, literally we are a free nation, not ruled by anyone (read outsider), we still have a long journey to make, in order to be entirely free of any reins that strangle us, now and then. The journey of choices, respect, and tolerance is yet to be made.
So, here are few things I want to be free from in our ‘independent’ India, things that still inhibit me and majority of the society, who still care to be truly free and nationalist in nature.
- Religious Stereotypes:
Respecting or disrespecting someone because of their religious identities is the most distasteful thing one can indulge into. Let us be a human, or an Indian, rather than some Hindu or Muslim. Let us learn to respect people, not for their religious identities but for their actions. Let us not taboo some religion, and exert supremacy of one over another; this reeks of nothing but intolerance, and let us not get infamous for it, right?
- Moral Policing:
Riding high on the bandwagon of protecting ‘culture’ and fighting against ‘westernization’, there are many vigilantes on the lookout for couples who are quite public about the love they have for each other. When holding hands invites the rebuke of police, also, the upholder of morals, something must be done. Does it say much about our ‘free’ country, when love is a taboo, which often invites the harassment by such vigilantes? Does our culture actually prohibit loving someone?
- Sexism and Stereotypes:
Being the feminist that I am, nothing outrages me more than the constant adherence to stereotypes and the consequent sexism. Let us evolve to finally characterize a person as an individual, and not as a gender. Let us, collectively, give some space to a person wherein they are not judged for adhering or not adhering to some stereotypes, let us learn to respect a person by their choices rather than disrespect them for not adhering to certain stereotypical rules. Giving space to an individual to exhibit and explore itself, and to not be tabooed is definitely required.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) July 11, 2015
Extremism towards a thought that might lead to violence and disrespecting life in general, can be harmful for society. Believing in some ideology isn’t bad, but enforcing ideology on others reeks of dictatorship and authoritarian culture, something that hampers and blots the word that is democracy. Stick tight to your beliefs, but don’t impose it on others, and don’t ridicule them for their own.
We are a free nation, a free country, and a community of free citizens. One should be conscious of their identities as Indians, as a part of the country, rather than marvel or get conflicted because of our gender, caste or religious identities.
Keep the surrounding clean, respect life in general, empower yourself and those around you, learn to let go, learn to enrich oneself and act when required.
It’s high time we start introspecting, instead of just following some thought or idea blindly. Let us start working on ‘I’, and then emerge collectively. Let us be free, once and for all.
Gay or not, transgender or not; in our hate, prejudice and unacceptability let us not bifurcate between the distinction of a human or not.