One question that possessed most thinking minds a few days ago when India celebrated its 67th Independence anniversary was: Freedom from what?
Sixty-seven years is not a very long period in the history of a country with a great civilisation, neither is it too short a one that we let ourselves forget the promises not yet fulfilled.
If we take a conscientious look at the state of affairs today, keeping in view the hungry millions all around us, we won’t go wrong in asking, “What have we done in the last six decades?”
Are we really free? To seek an answer to this question, one has to define the meaning of freedom. Freedom is living a peaceful, purposeful, constructive and dignified life, free from fear, anger and hunger. Have the last 66 years given us such an India?
The reality is that the idea of India as we envisaged at the time of Independence is still far from us. Our tryst with destiny seems to have lost in the quagmire of conflicts and confusion. Today we are a country lost in the struggle against existential dilemmas.
The hopes and aspirations of over 1.2 billion people to succeed and live a dignified life, free from fear, anger and hunger have proved to be an eluding goal.
Musharraf Ali Farooqi, a Pakistani author, sums up this sentiment in beautiful words: “The dignity of human life does not cover merely the sanctity of human life, but spans over all that gives meaning to our existence, including our civilisation, our culture, our language, our past and all that connects us to others, both the living and the dead. It is from this set that our values grow, values that make us conscious beings, and gives worth to our lives as spiritual beings.”
Nehru set the trend for the discovery of India; but we seem to have woefully failed in carrying out the task to its logical end. We can still do it; we have the means and the ways to do it.