Is India really free?

As India celebrates seventy-four years of independence, there are still some grey areas where true freedom is a distant dream!

Children standing in front of blackboard with their slates
Education remains a far-fetched dream for millions of Indian children even today

On 15 August 1947, India became an independent nation from the British rule. The first Prime Minister of independent India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, hoisted the national flag at the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort in New Delhi. The Constituent Assembly that was set up in 1946 became the Parliament of Indian Dominion. On the eve of India’s independence, Jawaharlal Nehru announced in his historic speech to the Indian Constituent Assembly, “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.”

As India celebrates her 75th Independence Day and 74 years of freedom from foreign domination, we remember with love and respect all our pioneer leaders and the freedom fighters who participated in the struggle for independence.

According to Nelson Mandela, “to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” It is true; India is a constitutionally independent, free country. It makes each one of us proud to be a citizen of the largest democratic nation in the world. But even after 74 years of self-rule, a few questions pop up in our minds: Are we truly liberated and free? Are we free to lead a lawful, decent and fear-free life? Is my freedom respected by the authorities and do I in turn respect the freedom of my fellow-citizens?

Education opens up freedom

Here is a “Tagorean” prayer for the 21st century, written by Mr T. T. Srinivasan, Managing Director, Sundaram Finance: “A roof over the head, food on the plate, basic healthcare and education, for every Indian. Secularism sans hypocrisy, liberal thinking devoid of elitism, and a nationalism that respects our men and women in uniform. Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”

Education plays an important role in the development of a person as knowledge is power and it opens up freedom. It is education that makes a person self-reliant, and creates conditions favourable for a better standard of living. It also empowers a person to fight injustices.

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Joe Eruppakkatt
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Joe Eruppakkatt

Joe Eruppakkatt, a former editor for ST PAULS Publications and The Teenager Today, has been actively involved in the field of print media in India, the U.S., Great Britain and Nigeria. He is currently working for ST PAULS, New Delhi.