India’s freedom – a shattered dream

Date: 18 Aug 2007


India’s freedom – a shattered dream
— Dr Jyotsna Bhattacharjee
India became free of British domination due to the selfless endeavour of thousands of our countrymen. Who can forget the contributions of our great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel, Lokmanya Tilak, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, to name only a few? It was due to their sacrifices and untiring efforts that India became free from the shackles of slavery. But our Imperial masters left the Indians to dislike our glorious traditions. The situation now is that we are neither Indian nor non-Indian– and we have no ground to stand upon firmly.

Those forgotten great leaders paid a heavy price for freedom–they suffered untold misery–many of them died. And we are enjoying the fruits of their sufferings, without being the least grateful to these noble leaders. Actually Independence does not mean anything to us, it has become a kind of routine affair for some VVIP to hoist the national flag in presence of a handful of dignitaries, under a security cover. Common people seem to be entirely indifferent to the significance of Independence Day celebrations. For them it is just a paid holiday–to watch television, or to go for a picnic or to go to the zoo with the children. They are disillusioned and are fed up with these hollow festivities and are no long interested in listening to the rehearsed speeches delivered by our leaders. 

The old people often can be heard grumbling that the situation was far better during the British rule. I still remember the euphoria of the people across the country on that first day of independence. People came out of their homes at midnight, when India won independence. Processions were taken out, sweets were distributed and there was signing and dancing by the old and the young. Even strangers were hugged excitedly by the frenzied crowd. Expectations were high-and so were the dreams of the people.

Within sixty years after independence those dreams have been shattered to smithereens. Naturally those of us, who witnessed that first day of independence, feel cheated and are disillusioned. Hence they have started grumbling that things were much better in the pre-independence era, when there was no violence, no corruption, and no hypocrisy. People could move around freely, even at night, without fear. There was no apprehension of bomb blasts in cinema halls, market places or buses. There was no fear of hijacking of planes, of abduction or unnecessary killing of innocent people. Perhaps their grievances are due to the frustration of the people at large, who were hoping for a “Ramrajya” after attaining freedom, as the Mahatma had envisaged.

India was divided on the basis of religion and the country witnessed widespread communal violence and hatred as never before. Friends turned into foes and there was bloodbath with thousands of people getting killed. The harmony amongst different sections of the pre-independent India was lost forever. The Father of the Nation was heart broken at the turn of events. He preached and practised non-violence – he wanted unity among various sections and peace for the country. But he saw hatred all around and himself fell down to the assassin’s bullets. That was perhaps the beginning and now India has been torn asunder by violence and hatred. Mahatma’s non-violent India has turned into a hot bed of violence, intrigues and hatred.

It is true that India has developed an astounding fashion after independence. None can deny the tremendous progress the country has made in all sphares. During the British period we had only a small number of educated schemes, people have become aware of the value and importance of education–and more and more children have started going to school. The country has a large number of educated people, excelling in diverse spheres. But we are also exporting many who are giving wonderful service in foreign lands. We have lost thousands of talented people, who could have done a lot for the country. They are reluctant to come back and believe that they would not get all the facilities here which they are enjoying in their adopted country. They are of course right in their views.

India does not lack resources. The country has vast areas of fertile land, wonderful industries and sufficient raw materials. With all these resources in hand we have ample opportunity to grow into a prosperous nation. The country has produced enough food–we have sufficient natural wealth, enough technological, scientific and defence knowledge–perhaps more than our expectations. India is one the most important developing countries of the world, posing a challenge even to the super powers. But all this progress has not been able to give us happiness. Most of the people are poor and are suffering a lot. Babies are being sold due to poverty and there is no ray of hope for these unfortunate people.

Our experts have not been able to discover means to combat natural calamities. For instance, our State is prey to devastating floods each year. This year too is no exception. Thousands of people become homeless, some die, animals are washed away, communication with other States gets disrupted. And we remain helpless spectators when nature strikes lethal blows. 

That is not the only problem. The country is reeking with corruption. Money seems to speak louder than words. You cannot expect the smallest service, which is your due in these sacrosanct departments unless you are prepared to grease their oily palms with your hard–earned money. You may not be able to get an honest employee, even if you scour the entire length and breadth of any of these offices. 

Terrorism has spread like an infectious disease throughout the country and Assam possibly is the worst sufferer. Life has become a dime a dozen. It has become so uncertain that you are not sure if you would be back home in the evening from your office. A group of young men at the gate gives us shivers. One is afraid to go down a dark alley, in case somebody lurking behind the bushes takes pot shot at him. We cannot go to a cinema or to the market with a mind free from qualms. Bus journey is also not safe for us–nor is train or air journey. We do not know how to protect ourselves from violence. Shooting, stabbing, abduction, extortion, rape etc have become the order of the day. Minor girls are raped by men old enough to be their grand father. Even a three year old little infant girl may fall victim to the lust of some lascivious male. That is the situation in a nutshell. 

Some people, specially those from the pre-independence era say that liberty has become a liability for us. What has it brought? Merely moral decadence, price rise and violence. But that is not the fault of liberty. The blame actually lies with us. We have not realised that to preserve liberty, we have to make some united efforts. Freedom without responsibility is disastrous. It is like giving a loaded gun to an ignorant child. We are pround to assert that ours is a large democracy, yet we are not responsible enough to preserve it. Our democracy has turned into mobocracy and it is money that rules the election process.

There does not seem to be any perceptible laws and order in our country. People are suffering a lot and the criminals are waltzing around with any number of anti-social activities. The talk about a corruption–free society has become a damp squib. Lack of responsibility has made us a bunch of corrupt, unscrupulous people, who have no idea about how to protect and preserve our hard-earned freedom. Infiltration from across the border has posed a tremendous hurdle in our path of progress. Some are trading freedom for personal and political gain. In place of the strong leaders of the past we have a new bunch of clay-footed leaders, who have no other objective except to cling to their position by any means available.

People have to be made aware of their responsibility. The children are our hope and the destiny of the country depends on them. Childhood is the most vital period in human life. What is learnt in childhood develops character. Therefore, instead of giving them career-based education, they should be trained in such a way that they can be worthy citizens of the country in future. The parents and the teachers should note that children learn from what they see and what they hear. Every child has potential divinity in him and divinity should be made actual.

India was famous for spiritualism, Renunciation was the ideal of ancient India and it is also the need of modern India. Helping others around us will bring us peace and happiness. It will also promote community well-being. Hatred and ill-will can be conquered only by selfless activity. Life is so very short – what is the point in nurturing hatred? It brings nothing but misery. We must remember that one day we are going to die and power, wealth or money will mean nothing to us on our day of departure. Hence we have to forget petty things. Even a few good people can do a lot for the welfare of the multitude. India had a glorious past; but unfortunately the glory was lost in the mire of selfishness, corruption and cruelty. Materialism and modernism have ruined our future generation. Hence spiritual discipline has become a necessity. The young people have to be trained in selflessness, spirit of service and truthfulness, so that they can lead the country in the right path in future.
(The writer is former Head of Philosophy, Cotton College)