“At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom”
These were the words by our first president Jawaharlal Nehru, on 15th August 1947- the day India achieved independence after a long struggle.
I was awake till 12 am, one fortnight before 15th August 2012, just to text my peers and wish them a happy Independence Day, after all the country completed 65 years of independence this day! I woke up in the morning only to find my phone almost blown off! Thanks to the huge number of texts I received from people who matter (and even from those who don’t).
What struck me at that very moment is why we talk about independence only on this very day! Why do we highlight its importance only one day out of the whole 365 (and a half) days we have in a year?! If independence is so important to us; if it is such an integral part of our lives, then why just a few hours out of so many to talk about it? Do we actually realize how important it is? Or has it become just another means of presenting ourselves as ‘patriots’?!
These questions have probably done half of my job of getting your brains ticked off in a direction to find solutions. I myself have been trying to find out their answers. We talk about independence only once every year, just like we celebrate Diwali or Holi. Independence Day has merely become another ‘ritual’ to follow, another ‘festival’ to celebrate, under the religion of ‘being Indian’ – to which (thankfully) the whole country belongs. It is important, because we get another holiday to sleep to our hearts’ content. The festival, like others, includes a few traditions to be followed – Get up late, get ready quickly, wear clothes of one of the tricolours of the flag, listen to patriotic Bollywood songs, fly kites, make some noise, probably visit the malls, crib about the problems the country is facing, and not to forget the leaders who freed the country from the colonial rule. We do somewhere realize that all of this that we are able to do today is because we are ‘free’ to do whatever we feel like doing! What we often forget is that being free doesn’t really mean the freedom to do whatever you wish to. It means to do what you want to do and also to be sure that it does not harm other people around you. We tend to forget the latter part though, as if it never existed; but the truth my dear friends, is that it does exist, and we should pay heed to it before it’s too late. It has become another way of telling the world that we carry another talent within ourselves – of being patriotic. And this day we utilize to the fullest in order to show off our patriotic self.
Coming to the peculiar traditions that we follow on this day, it makes me wonder how only a few of them are even included in the list. Like the one of visiting malls and going shopping, it isn’t something we’d do just today, or wait for an occasion to do so. All said and done, listening to patriotic, though Bollywood songs, and also the kite flying tradition are few of the unobjectionable ones. The strangest of all though is the one about remembering the ‘unforgettable leaders’ and to crib about the problems that the country is facing today. Why do we have to sit down and formally remember our leaders when we actually claim them to be unforgettable? My idea is not to make you against these people; the idea is to renew this particular tradition. We often claim that after 65 years of independence, we are not free, because the country has ample of problems dancing every now and then on its head – poverty, overpopulation, corruption- to name a few. Since this day is meant to remember our leaders and the change-makers of the country, why do we forget to mention any of those who have tried to bring about a change in today’s date? Why do we stick to those who were here 65 years ago? Is independence only about being free to make our own constitution and being capable of governing ourselves?
Even if that is the case, have we become capable enough? Or do we lack something? We surely do lack something – and that something is the strength to accept our problems, to face them, and most importantly to solve them. It is definitely very easy to sit inside homes and to talk about things – and yes at this moment I am doing the same. But the difference is, I have realized where I am wrong, and I pledge today to improve myself from this very moment. The question is, do you?
I leave you here with a hope that your answer will be a yes to the above question.
I repeat that my idea was not to divert your thoughts against our leaders, they surely have done a commendable job and there is no way we could be where we are today without them; but we also have to keep in mind that they were NOT the only ones responsible, and there are many more like them, who have come and gone as well, or are still there – we shouldn’t forget those people for they are the ones who are carrying the ideas of Gandhi and Nehru forward. They are the ones who actually believe in their ideas and not being superficially ‘patriotic’. They are our inspirations, because we the youth have to work together to make the country prosper. They are the ones who have tried to bring in the true idea of independence into this independent country – the idea of making a change and being able to solve our own problems – to move ahead and to strive to become better, and better, and better.
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre