“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now that time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of today’s midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.” Our first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech marked the culmination of Indian independence movement which started from the revolt of 1857 and ended in gaining independence on 15th August 1947. It witnessed an uncountable loss of life and the most outrageous struggle for freedom. But today, after 70 years of independence the question which arises in our mind is ‘Are we independent?’ We are sovereign, we are free from external control, and we have the longest constitution in the world. If having all these means we are independent then we are but in reality, we are a slave in our nation owing to our ill habits and unchecked want of power. We have corruption, inhumanity, religion intolerance, political riots, women insecurity, poverty, uneducated masses, child labor, and a lot more dwelling in our society and our mind.
Independence now is only for the classes, not for the masses. It is now a mere occasion when the poor street vendors sell the Indian flags to make some extra profit to keep their family from starving for the next few days. For the students, it is an occasion to participate in inter-school competitions and win medals which their parents would show off in their group of friends or a certificate which would serve as a testimony of their active participation in school activities. For government employees, this day is like any other Sunday and for the rest, it is a day to party and consume alcohol. Does anyone celebrate Independence Day? Does anyone feel independent? Is anyone happy about the fact that we are independent? Is this the kind of independent India our freedom fighters wanted 70 years ago? The answer is ‘no’.
Independence means to have equal rights. We do have equal rights in our constitution but in reality, there are hardly any equal rights for all. Independence means the right to speak. We do have freedom of speech in our Constitution but in reality, if anyone daresay anything against the ruling political party then that person would meet an accident in later days. If you marry someone from other religion or caste you will be ridiculed, humiliated and in worst circumstances even killed in the name of 'honor killing'. Independence means to have fearless existence but at night when women return from work there is a constant fear of being followed, raped or killed. Police, who was supposed to be common man’s friend in independent India is now a foe, a puppet in the hands of powerful politicians. Slavery now exists in the chain reaction. Everyone is a slave to another. We are independent of external control but internally we are not independent. We have fought the greatest enemies and now we cannot even fight the evil inside us. This is not what independent India was supposed to be like. This is not the India our freedom fighters had given their lives for. This is not independent India.
Independence does not come from the proclamation; it comes from the true realization of being independent within us. Independence is a way of life and a right for all. Only when people start realizing and respecting each other, India will be independent in the true sense. People should realize that the only reason we could fight external evils was due to unity and brotherhood among our freedom fighters. There were respect and tolerance for each other. They cooperated and gained from their differences rather than trying to remove different people. We were diverse then and we are diverse now, but now people fail to realize that diversity is our strength, not weakness. If we could accept each other and live a peaceful life at that time of utmost crisis, then we can even do that now. In the modern world, communication is at finger tips. It is easier to fight against external evils, but the toughest battles are fought in our minds against the evils within us. Only when we win those battles, we will be independent and only then we could all celebrate INDEPENDENCE DAY!