Tonight as I go to sleep, I will be sleeping with a dream. I shall be sleeping with the dream of waking up tomorrow morning to the sounds of patriotic songs all around me; the dream of being able to stand in attention and watch our National Flag being hoisted high and the rendering of the National Anthem, the lyrics of which still gives me goose pimples.
But like every other Independence Day that I eagerly look forward too, this year too I am haunted by a question which keeps reminding itself on my brain every year, i.e. the question whether we are really independent.
It has been 71 years that we gained freedom from the British Rule and 48 years since I am part of a “free” nation, but the question that I pose to myself still remains unanswered by me.
What are we really independent from? We may be independent from a foreign rule and is that what we had really asked for? Are we really free from jealousy, hatred and intolerance towards others, our own country men, our brothers and sisters, as per our national pledge?
71 years since we took the pledge to be united and we are still in shackles. We wished to be bound in the real sense but unfortunately we are bound in the literary sense; we are tied up. So tightly are we tied up in the shackles of corruption, communal violence, discrimination in the name of caste, class and creed, terrorism, extremism, and so many of these false ideologies.
To many, these questions may sound to be monotonous and cyclical. They may be too. But then wouldn’t these questions be repeated till we get a convincing reply.
We claim to be responsible citizens, but time and again, in every election that we get an opportunity to elect our leaders, we prove ourselves wrong. We have been proving ourselves wrong since the last 68 years and we still continue to do so.
We falsely claim to be living in an independent country but our behaviour so clearly suggests that we are still in dependence; on our leaders and their false claims. We are still in dependence on other’s culture and not our own. We are still in dependence on admiring the other nations but looking down on our own.
Every year, as I raise my hand to salute the National Flag fluttering the announcement of our independence, I keep thinking whether we are really independent. And every time, I get the same answer; that we still do not think independently, we think what others make us think.
We are not worthy of celebrating Independence, we are actually In Dependence. As I say this, I am reminded of the poem by Rabindranath Tagore, “Where the Mind is Without Fear”.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
I wish this poem be the real anthem for all of us who seek the real meaning of independence; the meaning which conveys the freedom to hold our heads high with knowledge, depth of truth and clear reasoning, without any fear in our minds.
|“||Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment, we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.||”|
|—Tryst with Destiny speech, Jawaharlal Nehru, 15 August 1947|
Our pledge still remains unredeemed.