Monday, August 15, 2005


Today India is celebrating the 58th anniversary of its independence. But do we truly enjoy our independence? What does independence really mean to us? A dictionary defines independence like this:

in·de·pend·ence [ìndə péndənss]
  1. freedom from control: freedom from dependence on or control by another person, organization, or state

  2. beginning of political freedom: the date or point in time when a state achieves its political independence
    • the first elections since independence
Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

A front page of one of yesterday's newpapers showed a photo of a girl's body drenched in blood lying in the middle of the Gateway of India, Mumbai [Read]. Today I saw on TV, that a bomb blast occured during Independence Day celebrations [Read]. More murder new, more political fight, more terrorist acts fill the pages of your favourite newspaper everyday.

How often do we remember our Father of the Nation? We trade his photograph for our luxuries, yet forget to look at his face with reverance. All the TV channels are excited about the Day but alas none have programmes replaying the history and importance of our independence. They say people don't want to watch the brutal history behind it, but want to enjoy the public holiday with a good cinema and a few programmes.

Independence, as you see, has fallen into the wrong hands. It has been deemed with a wrong meaning. Some define independence as freedom to do what pleases in their eyes. But independence and freedom has different meanings. Let's take a look at freedom:

free·dom [frdəm]
  1. ability to act freely: a state in which somebody is able to act and live as he or she chooses, without being subject to any, or to any undue, restraints and restrictions
    • live in freedom

  2. release from captivity or slavery: release or rescue from being physically bound, or from being confined, enslaved, captured, or imprisoned
    • hostages enjoying their first taste of freedom for months

  3. country’s right to self-rule: a country’s right to rule itself, without interference from or domination by another country or power

  4. (plural free·doms) right to act or speak freely: the right to speak or act without restriction, interference, or fear
    • were given the freedom to take photographs and interview workers

  5. absence of something unpleasant: the state of being unaffected by, or not subject to, something unpleasant or unwanted
    • Freedom from want or fear is one of society’s four principal freedoms.

  6. ease of movement: the ability to move easily without being limited by something such as tight clothing or lack of space
    • Releasing the catch allows complete freedom of movement in all directions.

  7. right to treat place as own: the right to use or occupy a place and treat it as your own
    • Off-season, we had the freedom of the whole house and the beach.

  8. honorary citizenship: citizenship of a town or city, together with special privileges, formally awarded to somebody as an honour

  9. frankness: openness and friendliness in speech or behaviour

  10. excessive confidence or familiarity: overconfidence, overfamiliarity, or a lack of proper restraint or decorum

  11. PHILOSOPHY free will: the ability to exercise free will and make choices independently of any external determining force

Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

It is obvious that only meaning no. 3 directly relates to the meaning of independence. Yet we take many other meanings also to mean independence. If schools provide "independence" to its students, tomorrow the nation will be full of "independent" criminals. If political parties are let go with "independence", the poor people will get poorer, while the rich get richer. If terrorists are going to be enjoying their "independence", we will not have the assurance of safety we have now.

Therefore as we celebrate this day and enter another year of independent India, let us remember the people who strived towards achieving it, and sacrificed their lives in the process. Let us also remember that we are living in an independent country, but we have our own rules and regulations to follow and not to break. Let us also remember that lives are precious gifts from God, and each one of us should strive towards protecting one's neighbour's life and not feel "free" to destroy it.

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