As a child when I studied about our Independence, it never occurred to me that I was reading about an incredible event in the history of mankind. As far as ‘Freedom’ is concerned, I thought it was something I was anyway entitled to, so what’s the fuss all about really? And then I grew, and my country grew. I thought Freedom was only a concept until I just recently realized, it wouldn’t exist at all if it was never practiced. And it can’t be practiced if it was never mutually respected.
A revolution takes place under a flag, under an ideology. We were lucky that our freedom fighters used pens and not swords, used reason and not force. Unlike other unfortunate nations that only saw rebellions through a fanatic force, we had one with the ideals of liberty and equality. We showed it to those white men that we are men of reason, that we were capable thinkers. That in our minds we were just as advanced as they imagined the European world to be. 70 years down the line, we see a new picture of India flooded with frustrated engineers, angry mobs and passive aggressive middle class that enjoys WWE on national debates.
Are we changing as a country? Are our concepts of freedom changing? I don’t know of anything else but yes, I see people are talking everywhere. People sipping tea in office breaks, discussing the last horrific cold murder of a 16-year-old on a crowded train in bright daylight, while some shrugging to it and saying, lol are you a commie or what? Somehow we have created a binary, now the entire country is in a state of a wrestling match. While there are ‘real’ deaths involved, the spectators rush back to their homes to see the justification of the madness taking over. People cheering for their sides. There are online tests available to check what kind of patriotic ‘Hindu’ you are, and apparently, it depends on what you think of cows and Kashmir. And the mad hysteria has reached cricket, T shirts, chaurahas, tea stalls, Trains, villages, cities, and universities.
You could either be cheering for your government or be a Pakistani agent, you could either be a Nationalist or be a terrorist sympathizer who mourns for the 14-year-old Kashmiri girl who lost her eyes to pellets. You can either be an attention seeking 19-year-old sensation or a sensible, productive trained human body who never wastes time in a protest. You could either rightfully mourn for Ayyub or communally bring up Junaid. You could either say ‘This should not be in my name’ or ‘you should not be in my country’. Clearly, we have killed the space for dialog, we have killed the dream of Ambedkar and Gandhi, and on the ashes, we are parading Patanjali fairness creams, because we are told over and over every day, ‘We are the land of spirituality’. My fellow countrymen, how are you possibly blinded to this whale-sized irony?
When we dissect a human soul, we find it different from the animal kingdom precisely for its capability to reason and to put reason above everything else. I state the obvious here to remind us that we are humans and it is our civility that makes us different from an animal that just attacks violently when agitated. A society that accepts violence, that fights to normalize violence, that shrugs to a headline of a man lynched to death, has indeed in all its basic sense lost its conscience. Before I say Junaid was lynched, or Akhlaq was lynched or seven members of a Dalit Family were lynched, or Jharkhand saw two Muslims hung in the name of smuggling cows, please spare me the argument of ‘But who lynched Ayyub? ‘But who pelted stones?’
There is no Binary other than the one created hypothetically to divide us by names once again. There are people mourning for the loss of lives, no matter whose it was. Why are we all becoming politicians? It is us, who are getting killed, who are getting lynched and whose freedom is at stake. Yes, I can speak against triple Talaq and mourn for Junaid. I can speak against blasphemy and respect India’s spirituality. It is up to us where we take it from here, to play pawns for the ones in power or to stand for the hard earned freedom. I end it with a binary because apparently, that’s how we understand things better.