Independence is always earned, not bestowed. Throughout human history, varied nations have struggled and earned their independence. Within those nations, there have been linguistic groups, racial groups and tribes that have fought to gain independence. No human being would want to be bound or be a servile spectator in someone else’s fiefdom. It is a basic human want to be independent, to be free of any manacles, be it literal or symbolic.
Our nation was engaged in a long struggle for independence and the struggle had its toll, its fair share of sacrifices and bloodshed, which eventually coalesced into an independent India, a country that was free from colonial rule. Seventy one years have flashed by since then, and in these years, the nation has changed in leaps and bounds. We are a burgeoning post-colonial independent nation, swimming proudly in the international waters with all the other fishes, some big and some small. But, we must introspect whether we are independent in the most literal idea of the word or are we still clinging jealously to institutions which carefully subjugate us. Perhaps, an individual’s idea of independence varies across the plethora of social divisions. One individual’s struggle for independence from an institutional oppression might not resonate with that of another with whom he or she does not share linguistic or class similarities.
We internalise the idea of independence and add our own perceptions, biases, insecurities, and prejudices to it. We mould it and nurture it, so that the struggle to obtain it, which often determines a person’s life, can be undertaken with gusto.
One day, I noticed three vegetable sellers raising a cacophony to sell their goods in the colony. Their rabble rousing voices, carefully chiselled with practice, had enough precision to wake the dead. An hour later, an officer from the municipality comes strolling and casually orders all three of them to move away as that spot was not designated for any commercial purpose. Now, I cannot help but wonder what the idea of independence would be for those three. Will they ask for independence from government interference in their profession? Will they ask for independence from over-zealous and haggling customers? I wonder it all as I seek independence from my moribund life. Looking around, everyone is trying gingerly to gain an independence of their own. Aren’t they?
Author Credit: Ananya Goswami