Today is a day to celebrate our freedom. I know that many of us will say we could have done better in the last 63 years, that we could have achieved this and accomplished that. But today is not a day to carp and cavil, but an occasion to remember and cherish the amazing outburst of freedom that we have witnessed since independence, writes Manas Chakravarty.Updated: Aug 14, 2010 21:21 IST
Today is a day to celebrate our freedom. I know that many of us will say we could have done better in the last 63 years, that we could have achieved this and accomplished that. But today is not a day to carp and cavil, but an occasion to remember and cherish the amazing outburst of freedom that we have witnessed since independence.
Consider, for instance, the most pressing issue of our time — the Commonwealth Games. We should be grateful that we are free not just to hold the Games, but to toss them, drop them and break them too. Could we have done all this under British rule?
Think about our other hard won freedoms. The freedom to grant and obtain mining leases, for instance. Or take the freedom to set up giant statues to oneself, with or without accompanying handbag. Would we, during the Raj, have been able to store millions of tonnes of wheat in our godowns and have the freedom to watch it slowly rot?
There are many other liberties that we must value. Would Preity Zinta have been able to lead an India Day parade in Times Square in New York today if we didn’t get independence? Even worse, Ratan Tata would never have been allowed to buy the Jaguar car company. Contemplating the incredible Swadeshi Jaguar, our freedom fighters must be all choked up with emotion.
Among other liberties, many of us now exercise our freedom to settle in Silicon Valley, where the weather is so much better. We have the freedom to hurl benches and flower pots in Parliament.
We celebrate the freedom that has allowed our companies to get listed on the Nasdaq, which was possibly one of the objectives of the Quit India movement. A total of 894,700 of us have so far utilised our freedom to go in for cosmetic surgery. One pot-bellied hoarder told me he wanted a slimmer, trimmer, more Gandhian figure.
Our children have won the freedom to pass without giving exams. And independence has given us the very important freedom to blame Pakistan for everything. Of course, there are still some freedoms that we do not have. We haven’t so far had the liberty of experiencing a truly horrific financial crisis, unlike the West. But I understand the Reserve Bank of India is working on it. Also, unlike most parts of the world, we still do not enjoy the freedom to be completely rid of communists. But Mamata Banerjee is doing her best to rectify that defect.
Best of all, these new freedoms have been won without giving up our ancient privileges of spitting, littering and urinating wherever we want to. Many of us hold fast to our traditional freedom of being hungry and malnourished and of welcoming malaria and cholera every year. We continue to cherish the freedom to have maharajas, called ‘dollar billionaires’ these days.
We thoroughly enjoy our freedom to have caste and communal clashes. And our police are gleefully free to bash up the citizenry, just like they did before independence.
But I dislike this sneaky way the government has of depriving us of one full day’s freedom by celebrating Independence Day on a Sunday. Don’t they realise that Sunday is a free day anyway and we will gain an extra day of freedom if the celebrations are held on a weekday?
Next time, whenever Independence Day falls on a Sunday, please ensure that a holiday is given the following Monday. Or we might have to fight for our freedom again.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint The views expressed by the author are personal
First Published: Aug 14, 2010 21:17 IST