I am writing this on the eve of Independence day and pondering over the current situation of my country, my land. Maybe I am not in a position that my critical remarks on important issues will be heard or even supported. But as a respectable citizen of a socialist, secular and democratic republic with the right to liberty, equality justice and fraternity, I am free to express my views. Even though ironically none them are being upheld today.
It has been 71 years of independence, but we are still not free. Take freedom of speech and expression, for example, we are not free to exercise freedom of expression. Only an elite class of politicians enjoy this right. They can spit venom and move on while the common man is finding it extremely difficult to speak their mind (as it might even cost them their lives). If you are not satisfied with the government policies and try to raise your voice immediately, you will be labelled as an anti-national. And if you dare to question lynchings or if you like the film “Mulk”, soon you will find yourself in the list of sickulars, or pro-Muslims. On the other hand, if you praise the current government policies, you will become anti-Muslim. Why? Can’t there be something in between- somebody who’s applauding the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan and at the same time is against killing someone in the name of what he eats.
We got independence long back, but we are still chained to the shackles of discrimination be it of caste, creed, gender or religion. Coming back to me, I was at my campus today, it was beautifully decorated with the tricolours, but there was no fervour or a sense of enthusiasm among the students. It was just like any other day. Some didn’t even show the slightest interest in wishing their fellow classmates. But if you bring up ‘Vande Matram’ or Pakistan, there will be some students ready to prove their patriotism and question your love for your country. Why so much hatred?
Just on my way to home, I found patriotic songs being played on loudspeakers, hawkers selling national flags, people on bikes having the flag attached on their handles, flag stickers on the back of cars, the whole crowd is in a celebratory mood. But nobody is genuinely concerned about the issues we are facing, our limitations and what we need to change to step up from being developing to a developed country. Consider cleanliness, for example, even on August 14 there were small and big garbage heaps on the sides of roads in my city and even in front of shops with dustbins in the corner. There were rallies causing traffic jams, but you can’t question such a celebration. Are our Independence Day celebrations limited to such visual acts only? Armchair activism isn’t going to show results until and unless we try to do something tangible. Displaying patriotism is good but celebrating it with a true spirit is even better.