Independence or In Dependence

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.

Epilogue:

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.

 

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To be or not to be – The JNU debate
The
issue in debate:


·   
The issue of Afzal Guru’s hanging is purported
to be the reason that led to the showdown between the JNU Students’ Union and
ABVP.
·   
JNU Students’ Union pasted posters across the
campus inviting students to a protest march against the “judicial killing” of
Afzal Guru.
·   
ABVP members wrote to the VC stating that such
type of protests should not be held, prompting University administration to
cancel the permission.
·   
JNU administration initiated a disciplinary
inquiry as to how the event took place despite withdrawal of permission.
·   
Delhi Police registered sedition charges
against many Students’ Union leaders and Union President arrested.
·   
The arrest of the Students’ Union leader has triggered
outrage among students and criticism by opposition dubbing it as an emergency like
situation.
·   
The Government has issued a statement that JNU
cannot be the hub of anti-national activities and freedom of expression cannot
be absolute and unqualified and reasonable restriction has to be imposed.
·   
Some ex-servicemen, alumni of the University
have threatened “degree-wapsi” stating that it is difficult for them to be
associated with an institution that has become the hub of anti-national
activities.
My
view in debate:


·   
I do not find any logical reason to believe
that the Supreme Court judgement of the hanging of the terrorist, Mohd. Afzal
(known widely as Afzal Guru), a member of the terrorist organisation, the
Jaish-e-Mohammed who was involved in the storming of the Parliament of India by
five terrorists in Dec 2001, is wrong by any means.
·   
But I surely have several logical reasons to
believe that when the Supreme Court had confirmed the death sentence on Afzal
Guru in December 2006, he being finally hanged in February, 2013 after a delay
of more than six years is wrong by all means.
·   
Operation Three Star, the secret execution of
Afzal Guru inside the jail premises without prior intimation to his family and
burying afterwards inside the jail grounds denying his body to be handed over
to his family may have been condemned by some legal experts and international
human rights groups, and termed as “judicial killing”, but the desperate
clemency pleas to stall the execution over the six years by politically
motivated forces is certainly a persuasive representation of our country’s tactical
and deliberate, if not intentional failure to combat terrorists who are
becoming more unabashed and blatant after each attack.
·   
If our country continues to delay in implementing
the judgements passed by the apex Court, be it in the case of Afzal Guru or
Yakub Memon, questions are bound to be raised on its abject and dismal failure
to protect its citizens.
·   
If one city after another is allowed to be
subject to terrorist attacks, all clearly indicating the handiwork of Islamic
terrorists who detest everything a secular and democratic polity of India
espouses, comparisons are bound to be drawn with USA which has been successful
in preventing any further attack on its homeland post 9/11.
·   
Why is it that when the US retaliation by
attacking Afghanistan and flushing out Osama from his supposedly safe haven in
Pakistan or the tenacity and modes of retribution by the Israeli forces,
however high-handed these may be, are looked upon by us in envy, the Government’s
decision to bury the terrorist’s body inside the prison grounds to prevent a
public funeral, considered “judicial killing”?
My
verdict in debate:

·   
We live in a democratic country where everyone
has the freedom of expression but the same advocates of freedom should also
understand that such a freedom of speech and expression has to be restrained
with responsibility.
·   
It is absolutely fair if some section of the
community, and in this case a few students of JNU, decided to express their
disagreement on the manner adopted to hang Afzal Guru, but it is grossly unfair
and absolutely unacceptable that we should close our eyes and ears to raising
of anti-national and destructive slogans such as “Bharat ke tukde honge hazaar”
(translated as India will be broken into a thousand pieces) or “Bharat ki barbadi
tak jung zaari rahegi” (translated as Our fight will continue till India is
destroyed).
·   
The protests by the self-proclaimed student intellectuals
is nothing new as we had earlier seen the hanging of Yakub Memon having led to
protests at University of Hyderabad, but let us collectively at least agree
that sloganeering against India is surely not acceptable as this is going to
hurt the collective conscience of our nation and we, its citizens.
·   
“Nobody is safe in Pakistan, not even Osama-bin-Laden.
Everybody is safe in India, even Ajml Kasab, Yakub Memon and Afzal Guru”. It is time
that we join hands to prove that comments as above just remain jokes circulated
over the social media than turn into harsh reality.
·   
If we don’t do it, the albatross of Afzal Guru
and Yakub Memon’s ghosts will remain a noose around the neck of gullible poor
countrymen like us.
It seems, the Hamlet-ian
dilemma of “To be or not to be” pales in comparison to the more potent dilemma
now, “To Hang or not to hang”.

A concerned citizen….yesteethatsme
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Give it up – Is it abnegation or surrender?
The
Give-It-Up bug is really infectious. I am getting worried, it is following me
everywhere. Or am I hallucinating? I really don’t know, but this creepy-crawly
surely seems to have infected my system.
My better
half has the habit of switching on the radio as early as she wakes up to soothe
her spirits with the old Bollywood numbers belted out by the dozen or so FM
channels. Perhaps, it’s a bit more than that since it acts as my alarm bell too
as I am forced out of my slumber every morning hearing the hoarse voice of our
esteemed Prime Minister.
Oh no! Our
PM hasn’t started singing for movies, but his voice surely resonates in between
those melodies. I am woken up by his appeal to give-up. He proclaims the joy of
giving up the LPG subsidy, which I am not sure strikes the right chord or not,
but it surely compels me to give-up my sleep immediately.
As I finish
off my morning chores, I have been subjugated since childhood to the habit of
switching on the TV set to keep myself abreast with the latest happenings on
this planet that I am destined to survive. There again I see the most venerated
bearded citizen of our country with his appeal. I give-up once again, this time
it’s the pleasure and gratification of catching up with the current affairs.
As I leave
in the pursuit of yet another day of livelihood to my work place, I am scared
to death to switch on the FM channel in my car yet again, and hence embark on a
silent journey with a feeling of travelling in a hearse. I give up my right to
a comfortable musical journey.
Thanks to
the Mumbai traffic and the numerous signals I encounter on my short journey of
just a couple of kilometers, I am constrained to stare out of the car window,
just because there is nothing compelling enough for me to look into the decrepit
interiors of my wagon which I could confidently call my own, having just
managed to complete the full term of the EMI.
There again,
it is. A big hoarding with our honorable Premier staring straight at me as if I
am the most notorious criminal in  this
country’s list of most-wanted who-is-who. Yeah, I admit, I haven’t given up on
the subsidy so far, but since morning didn’t I give-up on a lot of things, my
dear PM. And, yet again, I am giving up once more. This time, it’s the urge the
stare out of the car window.
During the
course of the day, I encounter many occasions of Give-It-Up and every single
time, I oblige. Sometimes consciously and sometimes unwittingly, but oblige, I
really do. I reach office and find that my reserved parking has already been utilized
by some obnoxious jerk and I give it up to settle for another corner.
Just when I
decide to have my lunch, some unwary client walks in and spends the next full
hour raising his innumerable queries expecting answers to his satisfaction, the
definition of which is left to his judgment. So I give up my favorite lunch time
determinedly trying to explain the intricacies of the income tax act over an
empty stomach.
While I
return back home in the evening, I can’t help myself from stealing a glance at
the large hoarding and yet again I and our beloved PM make eye-to-eye contact.
Having given up so many things since I woke up in the morning, I am honorably
and scrupulously satisfied of my achievements, but my country’s premier doesn’t
seem to be a bit amused.
As a tax
paying and law abiding citizen of this country, it would not be far-fetched of
my thoughts to expect at least a sly smile from my Prime Minister if not a pat
on my back, for all these Give-It-Ups that I have efficaciously endeavored
during the day. My PM isn’t satisfied and his gawking gaze makes it abundantly
clear that all he wants from me is the LPG give-up and nothing short of it.
I reach home
and as I sip on the steaming hot tea so lovingly served by my by-this-time
convinced better half, made by her on the gas stove fuelled by the LPG, against
the purchase of which I am entitled to a fee hundreds of bucks as subsidy, I
keep wondering.
I ponder
whether I need to add this one more Give-It-Up to my already overflowing cup of
woes. I conjecture that if I relent and do so, would it be an act of abnegation
or that of surrender.
I wish to
tell my honorable Prime Minister that I am ready to #GiveItUp. I would love to
do it as abnegation and not surrender. I wish to tell him that I am ready to
take a hundred steps towards nation building, if our politicians are ready to
take a single step.
I wish to ask
my PM and ask it loud and clear for the whole country to listen. I wish to ask
him that when we, the citizens of our country are doing our best for the nation
building, is it not high time that our politicians too start repaying some of
our generosity.
I wish to
give a piece of advice too to our PM. I would like him to tell his ministries
to learn to manage their finances while they permit me to deal with my conscience,
the way I want.
@yesteethatsme
A bemused
and amused, yet utterly concerned citizen


Foot Note:
Abnegation –
the act of giving up something, especially something you would like to keep.
Surrender –
the act of giving up something because someone in authority says you have to.

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