Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Pint of Independence

My take on independence day hasn't changed much over the years for I know amidst all the hullabaloo, the people who actually fought for our freedom are largely forgotten. If you care to remember, our freedom was not exactly handed over to us on a platter served with mango pickles and rice. It was a hard fought one.

Celebrating independence is a good thing by itself. Among other things, we are reminded of our good fortune that our forefathers never had. We are indeed a lucky bunch.

There is another aspect to it. Celebrating independence in a country where freedom is guaranteed by the constitution is even better. Pakistan also celebrates its own independence day, but hardly they can celebrate freedom. Again we are far better off than our neighbors who attained their independence only a day before ours.

So what? What good is our freedom when to an average Indian it makes absolutely no sense? True--even after fifty nine years of independence, an average Indian is not happy, nor he or she is feeling good. And there are millions of reasons why. But I am not here to chew upon the deficiencies, which we have in plenty.

Because that is pointless. We take our freedom for granted. We go on and on about our pathetic corrupted system, how our rights and true freedom can only be found in the pages of the constitution and rarely anywhere else. If you call it reality, yes but only half of it.

Despite the agonizing picture we can rightfully paint, we are still in good shape. Our institutions are in place. A corrupt system cannot last forever because that's what the institutions are going to take care of, eventually.

For a poor country like ours, burdened with a billion population and poverty, progress comes with a price tag--time. We can speed things up, sure. But you are mistaken if you think sending a bunch of decent folks to the kursi in New Delhi will actually help improving things. It won't. Good and efficient governance has little to do with good people but has more to do with people who get things done.

Of course the disgruntled ones would still throw their hands up and say, why bother, we are all but fucked up. That might carry an inkling of truth, but is that all there to say? Haven't you noticed any significant change from the days you were growing up till now?

And by the way, there used to be a time, a lot of people cared about independence and freedom. It was when we didn't have any of those. They cared so much that they gave their lives for it. They didn't hesitate to forsake the allures of the world, and the comfort of family, friends and chose the road less travelled.

They might have been wrong in their way. They might have been right. But they made the ultimate sacrifice by putting their lives under the British sword so that we don't have to.

So that we can talk about freedom over a pint of independence.

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