Once upon a time, we were ruled by the British. They came to our country under various pretexts before finally usurping our land and our freedom. And rule us, they did. We parted with the fruits of our hard earned labour, our dignity, our wealth and our land.  Women were raped, the poor were plundered and justice was made a mockery. There were those who rose against their tyranny - and died for it. There were also those to advise the Britishers for their own nefarious reasons... people who helped them rule us by breaking our unity in the name of caste, creed, religion and more. No doubt, these cracks already existed previously but they knew how and where to tap it so that the pot would break. Divided, India stood no chance against the might of their oppressors.

This was first published in Tamarind Rice's 
August issue based on the topic of Freedom.

Click the pic to read the issue online for free

It took us awhile but eventually, in one of history's biggest underdog victories, we won. We got our Independence and the Britishers - rulers of countries much more powerful than us - left. And guess what we did after that? Well, substitute the word "British" with "criminal politicians" and read that first paragraph again. That's what we did.

You ask me whether we take our freedom for granted? I ask you, what makes you think you got freedom? Are you living in a country where womenfolk are free to walk in the streets alone? After Dhoni, Modi and Rahul, is not gang-rape the word you have read the most this year in your newspapers? It isn't that crimes didn't exist in the past - but aren't they more blatantly open these days? 
As politicians make more and more insensitive comments belittling the poor, are you not the ones being arrested for a simple query on a social network? When laws binding them to be honest to the public are created in the form of RTI acts, are you as proud as I am at how quickly all the parties who stall Parliament session after session instantly become 'brothers and sisters of the same cloth' to veto court orders and make sure they remain unaccountable? Can you honestly tell me that in the city/town/village that you are reading this issue from, there is no case of obvious criminal activity which is being supported by a local political or law enforcement entity?

Just because the people ruling us have changed from pale skin to white dhotis, do not assume you are free. We are as blatantly oppressed today as we were before we declared our Independence. If anything, it's becoming safer today to be corrupt and crooked than to be a honest Indian. 

Gandhi didn't just survive the British... he rode them out. But here's an interesting addendum to that legend - in today's India, how would the political parties react to a single old man in funny attire telling them to mend their ways? Would he not just be a side-show clown to them, ridiculed and mocked on television panel debates? More importantly, would you - the common man - stand steadfastly for years by the side of such a character in today's India, taking on the seemingly endless might of the political parties?  

Freedom is your birthright in a democracy but you don't have it today. Making comparisons with failed democracies around us and saying we are better off than them - that is not freedom. Freedom is an equality for every citizen in this country. It is the level field on which we all are supposed to be allowed to play. 

We are a Democracy. We are a nation. We have our Independence. But in today's India, just as it was a century ago, we still do not have our freedom. There are miles to go before you achieve it. But the first step is the most important one - acknowledging the truth about where you stand today.


Karanth S R said…
Sad truth of today... can't even understand what can we do :(
Ruch said…
Oh so true ! We have gained Independence but not freedom. We were divided by the British then and we are divided by our Politicians today. New states, caste wars,religion vs religion. I don't think I have seen India stand up united as one to fight a battle ever !
maithili said…
We aren't free and we won't be. We lack national character :( Sad truth that is! We have a tendency to excel under someone's guidance but if given freedom, we will shove it in the face of democracy!
Rohan said…
What comes to my mind is the story of a foreigner who came to visit India and later told how he did not meet an Indian. He met Punjabi, Gujarathi, Bengali, Malayali and all. .. We lack the basic unity as people. As Ruch told we are being divided by short sighted leaders for vote gain. The ultimate aim of those leaders are to get to power and not to serve people. Sad but true. .
Priya K said…
Yes.. We certainly aren't free at all.. Thoughtful post.. We have gained independence but not freedom.. It is really disheartening to see the number of crimes and rape cases increasing day by day.. Wish that these people on dhotis do act like responsible politicians and do something about it.. The other day I noticed that a politician is surrounded by two doctors at the least while he is escorted to different parts of the city.. But I wonder how much protected or secure an average citizen is??
BK Chowla, said…
Interesting subject and very valid questions.If you ask me,if did get independance and full freedom in 1947. The problem started with division of states on linguistic basis created by Nehru..It were the same Brit trained Netas who saw divide and rule policy are/ were the same who re started exactly the same game and went ahead dividin society on caste,religion,regional basis.Before we could even get over our colonial mind set,we stood divided and THAT IS WHERE WE STAND..Unless,we the people ,unite..we will be a divided nation.
Yes we are not free only that now the oppressors are people who are like us and talk like us. I am clueless as to how to overthrow the people who are taking advantage of our divided state.
Rachna said…
Absolutely agree. We are a great distance away from freedom. And as we get conscious of our rights, our responsibilities do not catch up. That is why as a nation we still languish in corruption of all kinds.
I honestly dont see a way out. The Opposition is just as corrupt as the Main Party.. how do you bypass all of them and start afresh?
Its scary.. when you put the factors side by side, there is no difference between what separated us then and now. Just the phirangi vs desi rulers.
I honestly dont know who that magical 'someone' is whose guidance can move us out of this hole we have dug ourselves into.
Oh such an apt description Rohan. perfect example, isnt it? Every election, the same rubbish begins again - minority vote, Ayodhya temple. No solutions after that for 4 years till next elections
As per RTIs, half the police force in metros are for MLA/MP escort and protection services... so only 50% of the official number is available for the remaining population of 50lakhs or more in each metro. Make of it what you will
A very valid point sir. I totally agree. We never had a chance to move out of the mindset that we were left with at the time of Independence.
It isnt only the ruling party, after all. the Opposition equally take part in cancelling Court decisions like the RTI amendment act and kicking convicted criminals out of Parliament.
So true.. being corrupt is now the new normal in india. You're considered weird if you don't bribe or cheat. What can we possibly do too overhaul a system where the lawmakers themselves veto judges decisions?
Anonymous said…
I think it is going to get worse. This is just the beginning.
So true.. We are actually living an oppressed life... There isn't any freedom in true sense. One can't breathe a day without the ugly headlines.

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Anonymous said…
This was such a powerful post and am sure would resonate well with any reader who has a little bit of common sense.

I don't think any more Gandhis will be born anymore in this country, and even if they are, am sure the netas will surely kill him well before he opens his mouth in opposition. Look at all the large scale movements in recent days, where have all of them fizzled to.

In my opinion, only a large collective anger which is simmering will burst open and then from the flames of that fire will something new and hopefully something better emerge. We just have to wait for that, won't we...
I fear you are right. The last few years have only thought us that crime DOES pay.
Thats the most painful part. everyday horrible headlines which isn't just about a crime but about an obvious injustice. Many a time, we are even footing the bill for the injustice done by others.
Thanks so much guys :D
Truer words have never been spoken... Gandhi would never survive in todays India. The PR machines of the big parties would turn him into an object of ridicule.

Your last paragraph... what could possibly build such a big flame in the hearts of every Indian. Even the gang rape eventually fizzled out..
bellybytes said…
you couldn't have said it better. My personal motto in life is

Desh ka dushman Bharat Sarkar.

It's sad to think that we allow ourselves to be treated so badly by our own people.
Rupertt Wind said…
You have explained the illusion of freedom very well :)

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Kalpana Solsi said…
W e are free from the British again to be enslaved by our own people , the political criminals, who will try any tricks of trade under the sun to remain in power. We are not a free nation.
Rajesh K said…
I wonder where all this knowledge and wisdom goes, when we put our vote?? Isn't it our responsibility to elect the right people to the Govt? Why then, are we happy to blame the politicians and absolve ourselves from any kind of responsibility.

In democracy, people get the Government they deserve. Focus your efforts on how to make people deserve a better govt/politicians and things will (slowly) fall into place. There is no point in blaming the politicians for everything.
Everyone says join the system to fight the system.. I never understood that. If I and fellow docs go on the streets to fight crime and injustice, wont patients die in the hospital for lack of doctors?
Thanks Rupertt.. it truly is a sad state of affairs presently.
Exactly my sentiments. We have never known freedom... the freedom to walk the streets without fear, the freedom to practise faith without being judged by others. Only freedom to commit violence under the banner of religion and politics seems to be permitted
Care to show me a political party with enough decent members who can have enough seats to run a government?

A party which listens to the people of its constituency after winning the elections?

A major party which does not indulge in divisive politics?

A party which is ready to kick out ministers with criminal background?

Rajdeep said…
Awesome post..
Shannon Baker said…
It sounds like an interesting series. I will check it out

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