>First things first.
Before I rant about the above two highly significant and simultaneously vague words, it would make sense to first attribute people who made me think enough in order to come up with this rant/writing/thought/post (however you may look at it…let’s be truly democratic for a change)
One is Mr. Prashanth whose post in Kannada, which sadly I could not decipher, had a picture of Mr. Gandhi posted on his blog that began my critical thinking on this issue. You can follow his blog here: http://pacchiee.blogspot.com
Second is my friend Kaustav, a self-proclaimed insane ‘Indian’ (troubled with the multiple vernacular literature of our country), who updated his Facebook status, on August 15, 2010, as thus:
“Remembers how zealous we were as kids regarding the INDEPENDENCE day…it’s saddening how we lose the enthusiasm AND patriotic fervor with age(blame it on the discoveries we make with respect to our beloved nation). But what’s even more heartbreaking is, how utterly unappreciative the forthcoming generations are when it comes to the efforts that went into the ‘struggle’.
Happy Independence Day to one and all..”
And, thirdly, Ms. Gauri Lankesh, an eminent journalist and editor who came to our college today as a Guest Lecturer to talk about “Democracy and Dissent in India“. You can read more about her here:
Simple things lead to deep thinking, which may or may not be conclusive but are most definitely critical (at least in my case)
Few days before August 15, 2010, the newspapers (not surprisingly) were filled with articles that pondered over cynical and pragmatic questions.
“How free are we, as a nation?”
“Is India truly a successful democracy after completion of 63 years since independence?”
While the newspapers and publications I read were inviting more and more readers to join in and give their viewpoint as to what they think is the meaning of the word ‘freedom’, I was surprised by the preparations that were going on in my own hostel. As part of the program, my fellow hostel mates were planning to organize a flag hoisting ceremony to celebrate ‘Independence’ Day
*Please note that the word Independence throughout this post is in quotes because I find the very idea questionable with respect to the context in which it is being used”*
To revert back to what I was talking about, each student got an e-mail regarding details of the program. While all this seemed appreciable and noteworthy to me, I stumbled upon the section of the mail that read: The dress code for the program is WHITE.
Now, white may symbolize a hell lot of things *pardon my frustrated tone here please*
Whatever it may mean, the idea of adhering to a dress code robs the very essence of the term ‘independence’ for me. We are here to participate in a dull fact: that India completed yet another year of ‘independence’ with a show of lethargy, complacency and probably a bit of development here and there at the cost of some tangible or intangible loss. So we all get together, be witnesses of this fact and be done with it. Why a dress code? If I wear red, does that mean I am not party to this fact? Or was white chosen because it is a “neutral” colour unlike, say black or red which conventionally denotes mourning or rebellion/revolution respectively.
Whatever be the case, I have no idea how the program went and I have myself to blame for it because I was on a night out at my friends’ place because of which I had to give the program a miss.
To the readers (who, I presume, are all representatives of Indian democracy), I should make it clear that I have nothing against celebration of ‘Independence’ Day. When we have gone to the extent of celebrating Chocolates’ Day and Teddy Bear Days, there is simply no harm in acknowledging a day that holds extreme historical importance, if not anything else. But, the real question is: What are we celebrating here? Why are we even celebrating it, in the first place?
They talk of ‘independence’ and ‘struggle’–both very subjective terms.
My history books say that we struggled for our ‘independence’ and finally achieved it in the midnight of August 15, 1947.
Are we not struggling still?
To cope with inequality. Caste-ism. Fanaticism. Fighting corruption, exploitation and patriarchy.
The truth is, we are struggling with the hypocrisy of our society which is choosing to live in denial by ‘celebrations’ of these kinds. If, on one hand, we revel in the pride of being Indian, we hide our faces or probably choose to conveniently ignore various other forms of discrimination going on in every part of the country either in the name of class, caste, race, gender or simply humanity.
Ms. Lankesh today called Indian democracy as an example of “a functioning anarchy.” In my personal opinion, this was probably the best way to put it.
When democracy fails, dissent grows. And when dissent grows, agitation begins. This agitation leads to frustration to such an extent that one is forced to take the law and order in one’s own hands. If people are pelting stones at the authorities in the Kashmir Valley, it is because of silently suffering under years of an incompetent, impotent and complacent government that has no interest whatsoever in its social welfare responsibilities.
It’s like a dormant volcano. It may be silent for a long while. But, when it explodes, it destroys everything. It is this silence which is seen as a weakness. But to see silence, of any kind and any form as weakness, is simply naive and foolish. If one has been silent for a while, there has to be a reason behind it. Strong enough to defend the need to be silent for such a long time. And, when authorities concerned do not understand the meaning and significance of this silence, you get stones thrown at your face or have an encounter with a group of armed revolutionaries.
In fact, to be very frank, the state of ‘independence’ and freedom in our country is such that on the basis of whatever I have ranted above, I can easily be categorized as a supporter of violence and hence anti-government, ant-people, anti-democracy, anti-India…. the list just goes on.
But, I do not believe in hypocrisy.
I refuse to ‘celebrate’ a historic day that has lost significance in today’s context.
Maybe I am being cynical and overtly critical of the government. As a citizen or a civilian, that is the easiest stand one can take, my critics may argue.
But as a citizen, I want assurance. Assurance of my safety. Assurance of freedom. To think. To talk. To write. On anything…as long as it doesn’t hurt the sentiments of my fellow citizens.
And if I have been denied that in any way, I do not think I can call myself ‘independent’. I still have a long way to go. I still need to struggle to achieve that alluring word called ‘in-dependence’