On the face of it, yes, we are a free nation. We are free of the imperialistic era. We are free to cast our votes and choose our own government. We have the freedom to speak out against any injustice for we have an impartial judicial system on which we can place our faith.
We enjoy free press,which gives us unbiased report on the running of our nation,on the happenings around the world,right at our doorstep. Yes we are free.
Free to breathe, free to talk. Free to walk, as we wish. Why, we are free to spit and even pee as,when and where we please.
But is that all there is to freedom. Are we really free?
- Do I, as a woman, have the freedom to go out at night alone without the fear of being molested, raped or assaulted?
- Why just night, can I walk on an empty street in broad daylight without a backward glance for any possible threat to my safety?
- Can I walk upto a packet lying in one corner of a shop and pick it up without experiencing a chill run down my spine at the prospect of it ‘exploding’
- Or for that matter can I have an absolute stranger come up to me for a harmless conversation and not eye him with suspicion? Why, he maybe a terrorist for all you know!
- Do I have the freedom to feel safe in my own city, my own country?
- Do we have the freedom to let go off our prejudices without the fear of being shunned by our society?
- Do our children have the freedom to choose a career, a path of their liking without running the risk of their dreams getting trampled by their own parents’ sky-high expectations?
- Would a person from a ‘supposedly’ lower race, caste or creed feel free to stand shoulder to shoulder with someone from a higher strata WITHOUT any discriminatory glance from the latter?
- Can a man visit a temple wearing jeans or a woman in salwar-kameez WITHOUT being disallowed for not wearing a mundu or saree instead?
- Can a girl wear jeans or any ‘western outfits’ WITHOUT the risk of being blamed for ‘inviting eve-teasers or molesters?
Do we have the freedom to wear what we want to with ‘NO DRESS-CODES ATTACHED’?
- Do filmmakers have the freedom to release a movie WITHOUT kowtowing to the ridiculous demands of our political fascists?
- Do we have the freedom to go to a pub without the fear of getting beaten up by religious fanatics?
- Do we have the freedom to choose who we marry without the fear of being castigated or even killed by our own family for endangering their ‘honour’?
The day I get an answer to all of these questions, in affirmative, I’ll understand the meaning of freedom in its truest sense.