Independence Day, the 15th of August, is a day celebrated with joyous pride for the freedom of our nation from years of British rule. But today, it is celebrated in different ways by different people. Some head towards the nearest place conducting the hoisting of the national flag, some are relieved of a mid-week holiday and make plans to make the most of it. Some of us are semi-patriotic. We hear the Prime Minister’s speech from the Red Fort and then go back to sleep.
But what does Independence Day mean to each of us? We speak to a few people about what it means to them today.
Saumya Mishra, a banker, feels that in this age of digital technology and social media, Independence means the ability to think independently, without being swayed by posts and forwards. She says, “Independence means freedom from the influence of rumors and fake news forwarded on WhatsApp or targeted advertising on Facebook or Google. To be able to verify facts independently and to be able to make a rational choice, and not to be treated as a commodity. Independence means freedom of choosing how your digital identity is being used.”
Amrapali Nambiar, the wife of an army officer, feels that Independence means the ability to live a good quality life. She feels it is a reminder that so many people have sacrificed their lives for our freedom, so many dedicate their lives to maintain our freedom. And we should pay them a tribute by living a decent honest life.
Bhavin Vira, an investment professional, spends the day in his old hostel, with his school friends. He remembers the day proudly as one where his friends and he would hoist the national flag and sing the national anthem. Now, the school alumni come together to meet old friends, and he feels it is the best way to reminiscence about childhood innocence on this day.
Vaibhav Gupta, a poet, says, “As an Indian, we always relate word independence to the British rule which has limited the meaning of independence for us. That is why even after the end of the colonial rule we are still fighting with patriarchy, rapes, child abuse, starvation and suppression of freedom of speech. Independence is a feeling of being happy. It means each person should feel safe and inclusive, with equal access to education, food, health, and employment.”
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Varsha Joshi, a teacher, feel that education leads to independence and Independence leads to progress. She says, “At each stage of life, we become more independent from those around us. But, at the same time, we are dependent on many factors which form a chain or a vicious circle, may it be personal, professional, national or global. From my teaching experience, I feel amazed about how little kids who are dependent on their teachers, grow up to look after themselves, family and the community.”
Nikhil Pawar, a painter, feels that Independence is the choice to breathe freely and raise your voice if the air is made hostile to life.
Sonam Chhabra, an anchor, says, “This year we are again celebrating Independence Day. But true independence will come when we realise true equality for men and women. When women will be able to walk through the city at any time of day or night, without feeling scared, when she has an equal opportunity for education, when she is able to live life by her terms, that is when true independence will be achieved.”
These thoughts by different people, make us realise that while Independence is a proud day, we are not a perfect society. There are many who are deprived and do not realise the full potential of their lives. Independence means freedom, in all aspects, gender, age, community and a society without artificial barriers.