During my childhood days, Independence day always meant patriotic songs, pompous processions, humdrum speeches and delectable jalebis, all-in-all an eventful holiday to me. It was when I grew up a little that I started understanding the reason behind all these festivities. Independence day is a celebration of freedom, a reiteration of our rights and duties towards our great nation, I was told. As for rights and duties, they are clearly adumbrated in our constitution, it was the term ‘freedom’ which puzzled me quite a bit. What is freedom, I asked myself. Does this only mean that we can elect our own government who get to rule us, and not some foreign tyrants. Is it only symbolic or has an aspect to it which affects our day-to-day life? To which extent have we achieved freedom and how far do we have to further go?
Freedom is when we have the right to act, speak or think, when we’re not imprisoned or enslaved, the state of not being subjected to or affected by something undesirable. But is this all the freedom we’ve ever aspired for? Is this all we want as human beings?
On further contemplation, I realize that the essence of true freedom is the freedom of choice. When no one has to justify their choice or preferences to others as long as it lies within moral boundaries. It’s a society where a woman doesn’t get questioned if she wants to fulfil her career ambitions instead of ‘settling down’. Where a man doesn’t have to put up with scrutiny and interrogations like ‘’any issues??” if he wants to adopt a kid instead of having one.
True freedom is when people supporting one end of a cause, don’t find the other side objectionable. When folks right wing or left wing, beef or no beef, Hindu or Muslim, can all live together in harmony without creating a hullabaloo out of dissent. Tolerance and sympathy are major constituents of this aspect of freedom.
True freedom promotes individual growth. It’s when all citizens get equal opportunities to evolve into their own spheres. Or, even break free from the sphere and pick a different trajectory if they want to. When no one is devoid of options. When a student isn’t discouraged to opt for pursuing liberal arts if that’s where his/her interest resides. It’s when the society and the nation lets a person be.
So, when we talk about freedom in truer sense, we still have a long way to go.