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Use freedom wisely

On this Independence Day, I’d like to discuss something else — interdependence. The concept has been on my mind these last weeks, writes Anoushka Shankar.

india Updated: Aug 15, 2009 09:57 IST

On this Independence Day, I’d like to discuss something else — interdependence. The concept has been on my mind these last weeks, because it is the theme of a show I plan to do next November in London. It’s funny how important a concept it is yet it’s a word we don’t hear about very often. So I wanted to use today as an opportunity to do just that.

If you think about it, interdependence is something that applies to our lives at every level. We are interdependent with nature — needing the oxygen trees provide while they thrive on the carbon dioxide we emit. We are interdependent with each other on all levels — from emotional to survival. We depend on animals to sustain the ecology as they depend on us not to destroy exactly that. We need each other.

Take it to the national level. We need our farmers, our lawyers, industry, our artists. We need each other.

Let’s go global. We live in a world where a stock market crash in one country can affect the planet and where we depend on other countries to grow the food we need. We need each other.

Use freedom wisely. Rather than seeing ourselves as independent, let us see ourselves as mutually dependent — Inter-dependent. Of course we are ultimately alone, the way we were born and the way we will die. But that’s not the happy existence we are all (every single one of us) driven towards.

Let’s be grateful for our freedom. But, let us remember how delicate freedom is, and not take it for granted. Let’s think of how to protect and nourish it as it were the most delicate plants or child.

As we celebrate India’s Independence, let’s remember that there are so many in this independent nation who are not free, who don’t have a choice. Who are bound to the slavery of an existence they cannot escape — some through poverty, gender, a physical handicap our cities don’t make allowances for. Others, through learning disabilities our schools do not counteract. It saddens me when I think that not all my fellow citizens have the same freedoms that I do.

We are intertwined. The progress we are so (rightfully) proud of is finite if it does not accommodate such a large percentage of our population. India is confident, growing, rising.

But we are intertwined with those that do not rise, who are not confident, whose wealth and security do not grow. And our growth is finite without them.

Independence is more than a date on a calendar. Are we all really free? Remember, you have a choice, and you can make the choice to help others have that same choice. Happy Independence Day. Use your independence wisely.