Independence Day: What does freedom really mean?

India is all set to celebrate Independence day in less than a week’s time this 2016—on the auspicious day of 15th August. Every year, this month is not just a national holiday, but a rekindled feeling of patriotism. Somewhere inside, all of us want to run through the streets like we did back when we were young, with the national flag in our hands and patriotic songs on our lips. The national anthem seemed different for that very day, even though it was sung every other day of the school! Although we remind ourselves that this independence was given to us at a price, a costly one too, what does freedom mean, especially in today’s times?

Sujalam Sufalam Malayajsheetalam

Back in the early 1900s, our freedom struggle had confined itself to tricky and loathsome conspiracies the British concocted to push us down. After Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech on the eve of our Independent India, our country ventured into an unexplored path. Our country had arrived at such crossroads where we had never been before—the soothing shade of a democratic government. Earlier, several rulers and emperors had conquered this land and ruled it. But with the newly acquired freedom, this infant, called India, had very little idea about the freedom it had been provided with. It was almost like when a child gets pocket money but does not know how to use it wisely.

When other nations were busy developing into superpowers, growing exponentially in science and technology, we were busy framing a constitution. At times, it hurts me to realize that while scientists in the world were inventing telephones and formulating the theory of relativity, our nation was only learning to stand on its feet, recovering from the setback.

What does freedom mean today?

But today, do we realize what independence means? Is the definition limited to getting out of your homes and travelling to any part of the country without the fear of a ruling body imprisoning you for no reason? Or probably holding a peaceful gathering in an open playground and expressing your opinions? More importantly, is freedom restricted to providing your fundamental rights as a citizen? I’m afraid it isn’t so.

Freedom also gives you the responsibility and ability to make a difference in this nation. It gives substance to your voice so that every citizen has a say in how this country evolves. It’s not about just sitting on your couch and surfing the internet. It’s crucial to fulfill your duties as a citizen and make this a better world to live in.

When was the last time you took an initiative, even at a grass-root level, to make a difference? It could be organizing a cleaning drive to collect all plastic waste in your colony, or maybe a tree plantation drive. Or probably just an awareness campaign for STDs? You have every right to utilize the freedom bestowed upon you. Spread awareness, take initiatives and help the needy. Kindness will hardly cost you anything!

Before the independence era, a fiery newspaper article could get you in jail. Today, we should only be thankful about not being bogged down by the shackles of the British. We can live the way we want to and speak our minds without a care in the world. 

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