“Standing at the door of India’s 72nd Independence Day, what does freedom or independence mean to you?” Yes, this is the question I asked my colleagues and friends so that they can come up with few opinions about this Independence Day. Especially, what young India thinks about these two words which just crossed its 72nd year? Expectedly, the replied I received were absolutely amazing and opened up new avenues of thinking. However, it also made me think, what are independence and freedom? Are they all the same or two different ends of the same spectrum.
All my friends and colleges, who have answered the question, belong from the age group between 20 – 30 years. Needless to say, they consist of the group we call the youth. However, before telling what they think of independence and freedom, I tried to come up with a definition of my own.
Being from a family that sacrificed children for India’s freedom movement, since childhood I was ‘burdened’ with living up to the history of those brave hearts. On top of that, the constant reminder of the wound from partition was not easy to bear. Hence, while growing up the frustration of the ‘burden’ made me a rebel without a cause.
Thankfully, with age wisdom often follows and I didn’t miss the chance to grab the same. The meaning of independence from ‘being free’ changed to ‘being free from extreme self-criticism’. Who knows, few years down the line, this definition will chance. For now, freedom and independence for me are interdependent terms that certainly push me to calm the storm inside to be a better human.
This is a very personal account of what they mean to me, you might not resonate with my version. However, you will certainly find a similarity in what others have shared. Do take a look about their opinions on what are independence and freedom.
1. Are we really free?
“We take our freedom so much for granted. It is only when we hear someone say ‘no’ to what we want to do, that we realize its importance. Our forefathers faced this every day. Imagine not being able to express what you think, wear what you want, being answerable for almost every action. Sounds like a tough life, right? We have come a long way from those days, but are we really ‘free’? As we stand on the brink of the 72nd year of our independence as a nation, we’re still far away from the freedom of the individual, especially freedom of the mind. The core of all problems that we as a nation and as individuals are facing, lies in our mindsets which we are unable to accept as being ‘conditioned’. That for me, when we will be able to accept and amend, will be true freedom and independence.”
2. Celebrate her, celebrate you!
“Freedom is essential to my existence. Nothing is more important to me than to be free. Where on one hand we are celebrating the 72nd Independence Day, we as a democratic republic are still seeking freedom from many prejudices, practices, and taboos. The idea is not just to roam around on the streets and do whatever job you are meant to do, but far greater in every aspect. The definition of freedom especially if you are a woman living in India is broad, often misunderstood but a necessity.”
3. A step towards light
“Freedom and independence both mean different things to me. In my opinion, freedom entitles to all the worldly norms which we are supposed to comply by, and independence is something which we create with our capabilities. In 72 years of independence, there are still married women who can’t step out without a veil or male member but still have the freedom to continue daily tasks under these guidelines. In independent India, children have the freedom to understand technology but are not independent to download without supervision. Freedom entitles people to speak up for their right but still the third gender fights for their individual rights. So for me, India is only free when independence is given free too.”
4. Freedom of self!
“To me, Independence means that I can express my thoughts and know that people might disagree with me, but they would still entertain my thoughts and I would do the same.”
5. Flourishing without limits
“Freedom to me is having choice without limits of bias or social pressure. One should grow unrestricted and should be able to choose their career, hobby, partner etc. If I give myself freedom I will be able to make better decision and learn more about life.”
6. Exploring the meaning with a rap
“Baatein baatein baatein Charo oar chale bas baatein baatein, Milte sab bhoot hai Gawah phir bhi kuch na kar paate Aur ye jitne bhi jo daftar se hain News chalate bakar bakar ke Degree wale muft ka samachar banaate. Sab kuch hai manoranjan Koi jal ke mari koi khud hi jali jo Jo kal thi pari ab chup hai khadi, Par khabar badal gayi agli ghadi Phir huwe morche, kaam chhod ke Jaagi dil bad gaye hero Dal gaye status dal gayi selfie Do din mein phir thinking zero.
Chote kapre nahi Choti teri soch hai Tu unme se hai beta Toh tu is duniya pe boj hai. Chal ek deal kare Tu meri behan main teri behan Tujhe meri ka dikhna tan Aur khud behan pe hoti jalan Phir kyun nazron se Usko nanga karta ha..
Aurat ko chhedta Niyat ko ganda karta hai Milta kya hai jab tujhko jaana hai Jail mein Aur behan bani jinda laash Tere chote se khel mein. Andar se khush hoon meri sagi behan nahi koi bhi Mujhko nahi chinta Ke kya woh chain se soyegi, Main nahi swarthi Ye dard mujhko jacha nahi Hum janwar ya napunsak hai Kyun ki mard sala bacha nhi.”
7. Independence means embracing the beauty of dependency
“The very word ‘independence’, always meant a day to sing patriotic songs clad in whites, beaming a sense of pride while we looked at the national flag and sung the national anthem, stealthily waiting for the boondi ladoos and a happy half day at school.
Over time, the word resonated with a lot of teenage troubles that ran parallel with another word, ‘freedom’ and sooner than we realised with adulthood, the word independence came to be nothing more than just an off day at work.
Frankly, with all the new age media running on fastest-fingers-first on screens, all the heated debate around who should run the government, from democracy to bureaucracy – everything ultimately divulging into idiosyncrasy, I can never be independent. I will always be a part of something – wantedly or unwantedly. We, humans, we were never built to be independent. We seek strands to tie ourselves to. We seek hope, we seek love, we seek anger, we seek freedom even when we know we will always be dependent on you, on him, on her, on them, on society, on nature, on resources.
For all I know, we should stop looking for independence and start appreciating our dependency. From the first rays of sun hitting our face to the silence dead of the night, a million things run in perfect sync with a hundred people to give us our perfect day. So for me, independence means being humble, being respectful, being dependent and loving my dependency.”
8. Freedom from oppression
“As a country, we have celebrated enough of Independence Day, of being freed FROM BRITISH RULE. It’s time we celebrate the independence and freedom of individuals. It’s time we give less importance on marking of the anniversary and focus more on what is real. It’s perfectly okay to ignore celebration of anniversaries, but it’s never okay to ignore the freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of choice, freedom to do or move around without any fear of being attacked or killed. We have been there but haven’t done that.”
9. To be a woman without restrictions
“Freedom has different meanings for me. As a girl living in the largest democracy in the world, there is very little that we are entitled to do with ‘freedom’. As a daughter, freedom for me means being able to follow my dreams without being burdened with the pressures of marital bond. As an adult woman, freedom for me means being able to live my life by my choices of living and without being questioned about my societal setup. And as an Indian citizen, freedom for me means being able to voice my opinion without the fear of being ‘slammed’ or ‘trolled’ because it is my fundamental right to express my views and opinions granted by the Constitution of India. Simply, freedom for me means able to live my life without the ‘fear’ of being slut-shammed or being gawked inappropriately while walking in a ‘short dress’ on the city roads. And lastly, freedom for me is being able to live a life where I don’t have to pretend to be someone else.”
10. Freedom is a feeling!
“Ever heard of the phrase “Freedom is power?” Well, whosoever said that was absolutely right. Freedom is not just a word, it’s something which you carry with yourself throughout your life. It’s not just about expression, but is indeed about beliefs, choices and decisions. Our freedom is protected by the constitution but that doesn’t give us the right to do something which can cause disbalance.
That’s why freedom and reasonable restrictions go hand in hand. And the most interesting part is, you only can and have to impose those reasonable restrictions on you. So it’s a total win win.
See the ocean for instance, it’s free yet limited to its geography, see the sun, it’s bound to shine freely but is indeed limited by time. What I mean is, freedom comes with certain limitations i.e as long as you are not harming anyone and as long as you are not hampering the societal structure, you can be free.
Remember, freedom is neither a gift nor charity. It’s a right with which you were born! Know it and use it for the greater good!”
11. Independence means power
“To me, Independence means the power to make choices and decisions without any pressure from the family or society, any bias, any imputations and judgments. No doubt, the Indian law treats all men and women equally, but the society, which includes our own self as well, is yet to do that. A world where the society and my own self are free from all sorts of prejudice and discrimination is an independent one in a true sense because this is what will ultimately make the world a more peaceful place to live.”
12. Freedom means various things to different people
“There is a wide variety of things that symbolize freedom to various individuals. Everyone has their own definition to describe what freedom means to them. For me, freedom is expressing my thoughts freely, making my own choices without conforming to the illogical dictates of others, and living a fulfilling and sustainable life on my own terms and conditions without an ounce of fear in my heart. It’s that state which gives me a profound sense of security, where there is no place for religious bigotry and profanity, where I am empowered enough to decide who I want to be in love with, what career I want to pursue and how I want to lead my life.”