What does Freedom mean to us?

Another Independence Day, Streams of messages on Facebook and Twitter wishing each other "Happy Independence Day. Proud to be Indian". Sometimes I feel when we say "Proud to be Indian", do we want to say "Proud to be Indian despite what India is" or do we really mean "Proud to be Indian for what India is".

Would I be wrong if I say that most of us, netizens, never actually got to experience first-hand what it means not to be free. All of us have grown up in a country which is free in definition . But don't you think freedom from British is a very narrow definition of freedom. P Sainath wrote the contents of his book "Everyone loves a good drought" in the year 1992-93. That was a good 45 years after independence and if you have read the book you would realize that many people were not free even then - in all probability their conditions worsened because now they were victimized by their own (governments). In 2011, people in many parts of India are still struggling to make ends meet.

Is it enough of just feed old people or orphaned children's and visit them for a day to justify your place in society? What is our contribution to making the country a free one in the true sense. Today, my friend's maid has to buy a gas cylinder refill at Rs 600 because she does not have a proper LPG connection. That is because she does not have any documents to provide to the LPG distribution company. We buy it it at rates, subsidized for people who do not even have the documents. An irony indeed! So the country is free but a person is not free to buy a gas cylinder.

Sadly, one is reminded of this great line from Animal Farm "All animals are equal. Some are more equal than the others". In our context, "All Indians are free. Some are more free than the others." On this Independence Day, I would request all of those who read this to remember, you are only as free as the society you live in. Anything else is a bubble that is liable to burst.

Happy Independence Day!

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