The term independence is usually used in the case of a state or nation. Here, it can be defined as the state in which people are not subservient to any foreign power. It also implies that people of an independent state enjoy the rights and privileges of citizenship. Independence can also be understood as a situation where people of a particular state or nation are able to live their lives without unnecessary interference from the government or any other internal or external power. Independence does not seem to have a fuller realization because it is one of those ideals like love, freedom, success, etc., which are never realized in their fully. We can only strive for a better experience of this ideal for our people.
It is the duty of every state to ensure that its people enjoy independence to the maximum degree possible. Here the rights and privileges of one and all should be protected. All should be able to live their lives without unwanted interference from the state or any other internal or external power. And the ideals such as liberty, justice, freedom should be very much present in society. Based on the measures taken by the government in this regard and the involvement of people in realizing this ideal, we will be able to estimate the degree of independence present in a particular state.
It is good to think about the state in which we are, in realizing this ideal, looking at the present Indian scenario. We see India as the second largest democracy of the world. There is a well established legislature, judicial system and administrative system. At least, by principle, our democracy accommodates varied political and religious ideologies of different hues and colours. And, above all, we are no longer subject to direct interference from any foreign power. All the fundamental rights of individuals are protected by the Indian Constitution. There are enough measures to ensure the law and order situation in our country. Every citizen can move around and settle in any state in India. What more do we want? Everything looks perfect. Is it not?
We are independent for sure. But, now the government formulated a new framework for independence. According to this new formula, we are not allowed to kill a cow, ox or buffalo, because the animal is considered ‘Mother’ for some ‘great people’. You may be beaten up, arrested and put in prison by the police, burned alive or lynched by a frenzied mob in front of your family members. And, of course, you are free to believe in ‘Hindutva’ as the ‘original’ and the ‘only’ true religion of India. If not, you do not get any privileges as a tribal, scheduled caste or economically backward. In addition, you may be arrested on various fabricated reasons, raped and burned to death along with your family. And, by creating divisions in society, based on religion and ideologies, the ruling class keeps us ‘independent’ from unity, harmony, fraternal love and peace.
This new formula of independence now gives too many privileges to some corporate entities. They can take loans from the nationalized banks in billions and need not make efforts to repay. But we need not worry as long as our bank balance shows an amount below rupees 5000, because the state banks will keep on deducting our account by various innovative ways such as service charge, surcharge, penalty, commission, etc. so that the huge amount due from the corporates are compensated by the middle class. The government and ‘some corporates’ have collected all our personal information through the ‘Aadhar Scheme’. And recently it came to the limelight that the personal information of millions of people are hacked and made public on the internet. Alas, for our democracy! It’s the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
Finally, the most interesting point is, that, if you have got some disagreement with the government or their sponsors, namely, the RSS; remember that ‘expression of your disagreement’ does not come under the framework of independence. If you express it, you may be arrested as a Naxalite or a terrorist or shot dead by unknown gunmen. As was with the case with journalist, Gauri Lankesh. So we can either sit tight in our comfort zones watching this ‘foul play of independence’ in the current situation or get into action. As Mahatma Gandhi and his companions won independence for us from an external force, it is our turn now to make the realization of independence true for the people of India. Let us decide to open our eyes to the grim reality, get into action, and bring to justice the trolls that deny us of our true and rightful independence in society. Together let us make a difference. Yes, we can. Together we can.
Jomon CM SJ