Negotiating the city traffic on the eve of India’s 75 th Independence Day, I tune in the car radio to the local FM station and am bombarded by umpteen commercials each with the message of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav exhorting me to buy a product or exchange a product for a wonderful offer to celebrate the country’s Independence. Really? As if occasions like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day or traditional festivals like Durga Puja and Diwali were not sufficient to feed our consumerist desires, now Independence Day is also being turned into an occasion to buy more, binge more by every conceivable brand to celebrate what? Independence! Freedom!
That made me think – how free are we? When the sight of a policeman evokes more discomfort and fear than a sense of security – are we truly independent? When thoughts and ideas are better left unexpressed for fear of retribution and the responses they’ll generate – are we free? When as a woman I worry about my own and my daughter’s safety every day even today – are we truly free?
Undoubtedly India has made a lot of progress in the fields of technology, food security, healthcare, education, to name a few, in the years since Independence. But, somehow, I fear, in our pursuit of economic prosperity, we have lost our humanity and degenerated into an uncaring, unsympathetic, self serving mass of humanity.
As I drive through the city, everywhere there are vehicles of every kind driving past with flags of various sizes proudly fluttering atop the vehicles. A happy sight and a really positive thing that feelings of nationalism and patriotism are on display with so much enthusiasm. But it makes me wonder if loving something means that you have to hate something else. If I don’t hate anything, does it make me less loyal, less of a lover?