India stands at the brink of completing 65 years of freedom... freedom from British rule, freedom from oppression, freedom from torture by the powerful, freedom from exploitation and freedom from political imperialism!
Yet, as I reflect back on the happenings in the last few months, the following thoughts stare at me, in no order of importance (because they, to me, are all equally important!):
Things have never costed more before! Cauliflower at Rs. 100 a kg! During the British rule, our farmers had to pay steep taxes and a lot of the produce from cotton to indigo went abroad and came back as manufactured goods and sold to Indians at a premium. In today's day and age, it is our own people in power who are pocketing the income. Farmers continue to remain poorer, and prices of things continue to rise. How different are conditions from 65 years back?
Anna turns political
At a time when Anna seemed to be the modern 'saviour' giving the common man a chance at truth and justice at an unprecedented scale. So did Gandhi 70 and more years back. He brought hope and united the masses. And then he chose the political path, diluting the larger mission for the people. Anna Hazare's decision to join politics seems to mirror the situation for which Gandhi probably paid with his life! How differently helpless do we continue to remain as a democratic nation?
Lawlessness has reached mammoth proportions, at least in the part of the country I live in. Daylight robbery in a mall, protests in Mumbai against the Assam riots turning violent, daylight gang rapes, absconding criminals, and corrupt ministers, are just some of the news items that reek of a violent society. How different are these instances from the horrors that Indians on both sides of the existing borders experienced during Partition?
Value of children
On a different note, probably this is an area where things are not only different from the pre-independence times, rather definitely worse! Children getting trapped in drain holes and not getting the proper care required to save their lives, babies being sold in the name of poverty and rampant examples of child labour all around us, just show the lack of any value we as a society give to children.
This too, has probably worsened from the times, when animals were naturally domesticated and looked after in pre-independence India. Cattle and other animals were taken care of as members of the family, looked after and well fed. Today, those animals merely have a commercial value. Moreover, wild animals are drastically losing their natural habitats thanks to merciless urbanisation and human encroachment. A recent incident of an acquaintance leaving his apparently 'naughty' pet dog in the wilderness to teach him a lesson, is a shocking reminder of how as a nation, we have simply forgotten to value and respect life.
Hockey is our National Sport and yet we performed dismally in the recently concluded Olympics! Apathy from the government towards nurturing sports in the true spirit, and poor infrastructure and training, are the primary reasons for team sports to perform so poorly. Most, if not all medals we have won have been in individual sports, where the grit, practice and determination of an individual which has got the country a medal! In contrast, we are willing to view every match of the IPL, celebrating a economically driven, marketing-enabled, and celebrity-endorsed spectacle, in which the spirit of sports is celebrated less than brands, companies and a communal competitiveness, making the common people go delirious in a biblically-tranced blindness!
All of these are random thoughts that have been disturbing me over the last year, making me question my significance as a citizen of modern India. We seem to be so effortlessly wasting our resources, our youth and our time in life, in a state of being blindfolded by ourselves! What could be worse for the future of a nation? A nation that fought a bloody battle over years to gain its independence, and yet, today fails to value life, respect women and cherish its strengths! A nation of more than a billion people, which when united in a common aspiration of true development of the country in all its spheres, could achieve miracles. And yet, we continue to sleep through life, like zombies, celebrating each Independence Day in retarded applause!
It is time for a re evolution!