A very happy independence day to all my readers. I know this post comes a bit late but I purposely didn’t write the day-before-yesterday because first, I thought everybody would be writing about it and second, after a long time I took a day off (this means, I didn’t open my laptop or check my email or respond to queries, etc.). Third, I’m suffering with a bad bout of tonsillitis. But I read a lot.
Our newspaper was filled with articles written by various columnists talking about what’s been achieved and what’s been lost in the past 60 years of India’s, some even called it illusory, independence. With so much misery, poverty, backwardness, corruption, fall of ethos, rampant hatred and intolerance, are we really free? Does freedom merely mean kicking out the foreign rulers? Look out in the street: doesn’t the common man look like a loser, totally defeated and devoid of dignity? Does a free nation look like this?
I agree with the thought but we are a lot better off than we were during the British, or even the Mughal rule. Whatever mess we create here, it is our own mess. We are always free to clear this mess, whether ideological, economic or social, whenever we feel like it (it’s another thing we don’t feel like it). Despite our politicians and destructive policy makers some of us have made things better. Whether one agrees or not, the working conditions are far better than what they used to be. The progress is in certain, limited quarters, but this is how progress starts — it gradually spreads.
The past always seems romantic and quixotic, but every age has its dark side. Chandan Mitra of the Pioneer in a recent article evoked the 60-year journey of the Hindi film music. We’re seeing the worst phase these days, but the golden phase of the Hindi film music survived with the backdrop of the Chinese invasion, political uncertainty, abysmal poverty, industrial strife and a slew of natural calamities. Poetic and all is fine, but if you don’t have food to eat or clothes to wear, you cannot simply survive on melodies (some did actually).
I think the present is the best time to live, whether in India (I’m talking about the functioning, civilized world, and not about communities that are still living in the 700 AD world) or anywhere else. We are at the threshold of a civilizational shift. Technology and new thinking is helping us do things better, faster, and it is also wrecking havoc on our environment, which needs to be tackled with the greatest urgency. The poverty is galling, but we have the means, but not enough will, to eradicate it. We have conquered most of the diseases and ailments (at least those who can afford) and the natural disasters become untenable only because as a society, as a nation, we don’t prepare for them, or we create ripe ground for them by exploiting the ecology and the environment indiscriminately. For example, the floods in Bihar are being caused due to large-scale deforestation.
I don’t prefer the past because the reins of our destiny were not in our hands. Today they are. We can steer our own paths and the opportunities allude only those who don’t seek them sincerely. All around me I see people wallowing in miseries but in 99.99% of the cases it’s their own doing. The India of today is in the driving seat. If we don’t have the roads, we have the ability to lay them. This is the greatest difference between the past and the present.
[tags]india, independence days, indian independence day[/tags]