Today India celebrates her 73rd Independence Day.
How far have we travelled as a nation, or rather a geo-political entity called India since Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘tryst with destiny’ speech he made to the Indian Constituent Assembly in Parliament at the stroke of midnight of August 14 1947, when the world slept? When India was supposed to have awoken to life and freedom. It all began with the East India Company setting foot on Indian soil. This English and later British Joint-Stock Company formed to trade in the Indian Ocean reached Surat on August 24 1608 lured by India’s spices, indigo,salt,tea and opium. This trading company had the blessings of Britain, a country with expansionist tendencies. Much akin to China of today. Britain made her intentions clear when she defeated the rulers of Bengal in 1757 in the battle of Plassey. The British Raj was here to stay. Stay she did much like an occupying force. She plundered, made servile ‘doormats’ out of natives. She imposed laws, often lopsided and unfair, as the salt tax, would exemplify. This caught the attention of a South Africa-returned barrister Mohandas karamchand Gandhi who returned to his home country in 1915. This barrister had been irked by injustice thrown at him and other dark-skinned individuals by glaringly racial South African Whites. He experienced the worst of them when he was thrown out of a train for occupying a first-class seat despite having a legal ticket. Just because he had more melanin in his skin for not fault of his than his fellow-travellers.
what followed in India with the return of Gandhi the veritable saint is embossed in Golden letters in Indian history. Unable to stomach the Britishers subjugate his countrymen most grossly employing unfair means had him adopt the mission to show the door to the occupants. Adopting non-violence as his most effective weapon, he broke the Britishers’ stranglehold on India. Without a single bullet being fired by him, this gentle saint- the ‘half-naked fakir’ of Winston Churchill, and Mahatma to his countrymen had the tea-loving Britishers leave Indian shores and initiated the sunset on the once invincible British Empire. Left to ourselves we were left with a country just liberated from foreign rule, but bleeding profusely at being fractured along communal lines into two independent nations-India and Pakistan.
Since then, the two greenhorns have been celebrating respective Independence days in the subcontinent.
At this 74th year of Independence, Indians are forced to reflect if we, as a people are truly ‘free’.
What kind of freedom are we blessed with, if at all? The words of Peter Marshall, the Scots-American preacher ‘may we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right’ sounds like an apt advisory to India of today and her rulers. Today’s India is unfortunately enslaved within the hands of the ilk and descendants of the man who snuffed the life out of the Mahatma most brutally. Godse had the daring to emerge from a crowd and empty his pistol point-blank at a defenseless Mahatma, foreign to violence right before the world’s eyes. The murderer’s descendants who eulogize him and even seek to bestow sainthood and martyrdom on him has continued from where he left off. Emptying bullets into all that this nation and her emancipators once stood for, and adopted as their culture.
Free we are indeed, as a nation from the fetters of occupation and subjugation by foreign power. But free we aren’t in more ways than one. Enlisting the goblins within India’s cupboards here would make an encyclopaedic collection. Just one example would most adequately showcase the abject and shameful failure and the warped priority India as an ‘independent’ nation is a slave to- The incident of the head of the incumbent government prostrating at a puja only a few days back at a stone-laying ceremony for a new temple for Lord Ram at His birth place. He looked like a tantric than head of a mature government in the thick of fighting a merciless pandemic, which continues to infect and kill Indians by the million! That single example would suffice to announce to the world that India is still held captive. Captive by hatred along communal lines, the bleeding deep gash of which shows. This hatred enslaves Indians within families, workplaces and every nook and corner of this nation chained to disease, poverty, crime, hunger, lack of education, child labour, communal hatred and lynching for consuming beef. All this form just the tip of a huge iceberg which we still remain enchained to. Today, the nation that woke up up to celebrate73 years since the Britishers have been shown the door, was aghast to learn that the Supreme Court, which has been reduced to an auxiliary sister concern of the governing right-wing front has sentenced a civil rights lawyer, Prashant Bhushan who has been found guilty of contempt of court for tweeting on the Chief Justice of India on social media. This when there’s nothing left to show contempt for an already contemptuous institution that the judiciary has been reduced to. By the Indian government allergic to dissent, different opinion and free thought. It Is this self-same government and its ideology of communal division that holds today’s India and Indians in bondage. It hurts to behold the same old modus operandi adopted by the Britishers- that of ‘divide and rule’, being followed in letter and spirit by the government of today.