A country is really free only when its citizens are free. Freedom is not merely deliverance from foreign occupation. Freedom is deliverance from poverty, injustice and other social evils as well as personal evils such as greed and jealousy which give birth to corruption of all sorts. India is yet to be free.
There are millions of people in India who go to bed hungry even after seven decades of independence. There are millions who don’t have access to basic healthcare. Our public distributions systems and primary healthcare systems are abject failures. The country is still enslaved by poverty. Can we call it a free country?
A man who has to carry the dead body of his wife on his shoulders for kilometres because he cannot afford to hire a vehicle should shake us out of our smugness. He is a poignant symbol of the callousness that marks a governance which gives more importance to cows, idols and myths.
India needs deliverance from its holy cows and myths. It is folly to keep looking back at the distant glorious past and claiming global superiority in the name of a bygone civilisation. What we are today is all that matters. All the thousands of our gods and goddesses, the elegant poetry in the sacred scriptures and the glory of an ancient language are rendered absurd by the 3671 children below the age of 5 that die every day in the country due to poverty-related causes. There is nothing to be proud of when one out of every eleven children is working in order to earn their daily bread.
Freedom is also a matter of attitudes. Today India is a country whose people seem to be motivated more by hatred than anything else. Suddenly all kinds of Senas have mushroomed spawning hydra-headed hatred. If you advocate love and other human values, you are labelled antinational; you are asked to go to Pakistan. Pakistan has become an obsessive antithesis of all that India is projected to be. A whole section of citizens, a sizeable section, has become the abominable Other to be exiled if not be eliminated. Slogans have turned sour. Acid runs in veins. Dead fishes’ eyes stare from sullen human faces.
India has a long way to go to be free in spite of the highly developed infrastructure in its cities. In spite of the ascending line graphs in the development statistics. In spite of the rhetoric in thunderous locution.
PS. Written for Indispire Edition 160 which asks the question whether India is really free.