On the eve of independence I started my day browsing on the internet and searching for the literal meaning of the word Independence and this is what I found, ‘Self-governance’, ‘Self-sufficiency’, ‘Freedom’, ‘Liberty’, then a thought popped up in my mind, ‘Are we really Independent?’
Is it enough being a constitutionally independent country? Are we living with complete freedom, are we really liberated? These are the few questions we have to to ponder upon…
It’s been more than 65 years since we are free from the clutches of British rule in India. Today standing here after 65+ years, do our women feel the freedom, freedom from the atrocities against them? Are our kids safe today? Do our students have the freedom to select the career they want? Do we have freedom from caste discrimination? Have we got the freedom from the communal tensions in our country? Have we got the freedom from the corruption? Have we got the freedom from all those corrupt, criminal politicians? Have we at least got the freedom from our basic problems like poverty and unemployment? If your answer is No then we need to revisit our belief on being free and independent?
Violence against women is increasing day by day. It has been a prominent topic of discussion in recent days. Rape, female feticide, acid attacks, domestic violence, dowry deaths, honor killings, forced abortion, human trafficking, sexual violence, forced prostitution and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately the percentages of these crimes are increasing every year. If we believe Wikipedia and national crimes records bureau of India, REPORTED incidents of crime against women has been increasing every year. These reports also say that every three minutes a woman is subjected to some kind of violence in our country. In 2012 alone there were total of 2,44,270 cases of crimes against women REPORTED. I am highlighting the word REPORTED because there are equal numbers of cases that go unreported in India.
It’s not only about women, even children are not spared. Where we have more than 400 million children in India, they are not free inside their homes or on the streets. Unfortunately nowadays not even in their schools where they go to shape their future, to get educated they are becoming a target of violence. The shabbiest fact is children are being sexually harassed and raped by their own relatives, neighbors and even teachers.
Children are easy prey for human traffickers, also official figures indicate that there are over 12 million child workers in India but many NGO’s reckon the real figure is up to 60 million. In 2007 the Indian government published the results of one of the survey, carried out in conjunction with UNICEF, on child abuse, reveals some shocking conclusions, over 50% faced some kind of sexual abuse and 20% of them severe abuse.
In India responsibility of care and protection of children has been with families and communities, but today parents are afraid or don’t feel safe to leave their kids with neighbor/relatives. The innocent children before they could even understand the meaning of freedom, they have lost it, and they are not free and safe. Are we really independent?
Corruption is another major problem which has been haunting Indians and adversely affecting Indian economic system. Though we are independent country, we are not able to get freedom from corruption which has made its way into the hearts and veins of most of the government offices. We have seen cases where small peons to top government officials including Supreme Court judges and IAS, IPS are involved in corruption. Most of the Indians have had firsthand experience of paying bribes to get jobs done in public offices successfully.
An analysis of 541 of 543 winning candidates by national election watch (NEW) and Association for democratic reforms (ADR) shows that 186 or 34% of newly elected MPs have in their election affidavits disclosed criminal cases booked against themselves.
In recent years we have seen some major scams involving high level government officials, including cabinet ministers and chief ministers, such as 2G spectrum scam (1760 billion), 2010 common wealth games scam (700 billion), the Adarsh housing society scam, the mining scandal in Karnataka, cash for vote scam and many more.
Where independence mean self-government, we the people in India have to pay bribe to get a basic driving license, to a traffic police, to clerk/peon in govt. office, to even get gas connection. Is this freedom, Are we really independent?
I don’t have to write much about our corrupt, criminal and communal politicians. We haven’t yet got freedom from these kinds of so called leaders. The illicit use of power by these politicians has turned the entire Indian polity into unscrupulous one. These politicians would go to any extent to make sure they win elections. An analysis of 541 of 543 winning candidates by national election watch (NEW) and Association for democratic reforms (ADR) shows that 186 or 34% of newly elected MPs have in their election affidavits disclosed criminal cases booked against themselves. (Wonder, how many have not disclosed). In 2009, 30% of the Lok Sabha members had criminal cases; this has now gone up by 4%.
Caste discrimination is another major social evil deeply entrenched in our society. Even though we are marching ahead towards education and development, caste related violence is still occurring in so many nooks and corners of our country. We have seen many major incidence of violence against dalits/lower caste people such as Bathani Tola Massacare Bihar, Kilvemani Massacare TN, Laxmanpur Bathe Carnage, Melavalavu Massacre, Tamil Nadu, 2003 Muthanga Incident Kerala, 1999 Bant Singh case Punjab, 2006 Kherlanji massacre Maharashtra, Killings of Dalits in Mirchpur (Haryana), 2012 Dharmapuri violence and many more.
Government just can’t root out this discrimination by assigning some quota in school, colleges and jobs; we need to work on the mindset of the people. Even after so many years of independence, we are still not able to free ourselves from the clutches of caste system. So are we really Independent?
National Integration is essential for any nation with socio-cultural, religious, linguistic and geographical diversities and for a country like ours it is still more necessary. But a series of religious, communal violence in India has raises many questions for us.
After so many years of independence, we are still struggling to stop communal violence in India. Though a large group of Indians strive for peace and harmony in the country, there are few groups, parties, organizations with sectarian interests working in India to divide and rule the country. Political parties for their benefits have created communal hatred among communities. Communalism has been injected in our education curriculum, history has been changed, and media which is controlled by political parties and corporates has played its own role on all this.
If we closely observe these religious clashes, they occur mostly through rumors spread by some communal elements which get catalyzed by our religious intolerance. This composite nature of India is not by just accident, it is because of the way we think. India believes in pluralism. We should not get into the trap of few ill mindset people or media’s tactics, let us have independent thinking, let us have religious tolerance, mutual acceptance and let us cherish each other’s culture, language, religion etc. of our country India.
It’s not like I am pointing out only negatives about our country, we have undergone many positive changes after independence, in fact lot many. It’s just that me being a proud Indian, just wanted to highlight on few issues on which we together as Indians have to come together , out of our comfort zones and strive to make our great country India a much better peaceful place to live in.
UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL. On the eve of this Independence Day let us keep all our differences aside and fight against these grappling issues and make our India independent from all sorts of slavery.