After 70 Years of Independence, Are We Doing Enough? has been edited by Pratichi Sadavrati.
15th August 1947 was the day when India became independent after fighting for 200 years against the British. The world refers to it as a historic event where the nation came together to fight for a single cause. And for us, it was and always will remain a moment of pride because we did not give up.
I have heard many stories from my grandfather, and always wondered what it was like to live in India during that time. He always carried that pride of being an Indian and fought against the wrong in society. I have always wondered, “Where do we stand? Where do people of our generation, who do not know the struggles of independence, stand? Are we grateful enough to our country for this freedom? We say India is developing at lightning speed, but are we even contributing?” I went to Kewallya, a good friend of mine:
Me: “Now, that we are in the 71st year of Independence, is our country developing? Are we doing enough for our country?”
Kewallya: “What made you think about all of this? Yes, as a nation, we are developing. Don’t you read the newspaper? India has made its mark and is one of the fastest developing nation in the world.”
Me: “I do not doubt that and I do not say that we are not growing. I take pride in what our country has achieved. We talk, for example, about what ISRO did or how great our Indian army is, with the utmost respect. But as individuals, have we ever contributed to our country?”
Kewallya: “I have never thought about it, to be honest.”
Me: “See, exactly my point, we never think about it. We are ungrateful for what our country has given us.”
Kewallya: “It is not that we are not grateful. I am! I love staying here. There is pride in being an Indian. It is just that we are so busy with our work, that we do not get time for it.”
Me: “Are we really that busy to not to look at it? Or are we busy adjusting with the flaws of our country by telling ourselves that the nation is not going to change? We adjust with our education system or we move out of the country for our individual benefit. We adjust with corruption or adjust with the beliefs that prevail our country. I do not know why is that but I feel bad about it.”
Kewallya: “Yes, we do adjust because how can an individual bring change in a very stubborn society? We run out of the country, not because of the bad education system but due to lack of employment opportunities. Corruption, superstitions, communalism or any other thing is bound to prevail because it existed even before the Britishers came. And that is why we elect a government so that it can work and make sure, India progresses. It is the role of the government to do micro planning and implement it”
Me: “How can the government single-handedly make a difference if the citizens do not cooperate? What is the point of ‘Swacchh Bharat Abhiyaan’ if we throw garbage and do not stop anyone else from throwing it on the road either. Why can we not go to government offices five times rather than bribing them and not going again? We are the ones who promote such things. Why do we vote for the leaders who work as if their only purpose is to create a divide between the different religions? If our education system is bad, how many times have we tried to gain extra knowledge? Because no one can tell me that the internet is not useful enough? Is there a lack of employment or lack of employable people? Why are we always complaining? And yes, mind you, saying this does not spare me either.
I just feel that we have taken our freedom for granted. It is like we have become too lazy to change the things that matter. Planning starts with us and if we do it, we can force the government to implement it. One of my friends told that it is not possible for the government to implement one rule for the country that has the population of 130 crores. So, it is our duty as citizens to start changing some of the things. If we cannot do this for the country, we can at least do it for ourselves.”
Kewallya: “I agree with what you say. But, these things are easier said than done”
Me: “Okay! Answer this one simple question. Where do we stand after 70 years of independence?”
Kewallya: “I would just say we are 50 years behind our capability and of what our freedom fighters had dreamt of.”
Me: “Who is responsible for it? Is it us or the government?”
Kewallya: “I think both of them. However, I cannot blame the government because I have not done anything either.”
I felt I had got my answers and the direction of what I needed to do next. Someone once told me,
“ If you want the change, do not ask for it, be the change. Lead by an example.”
It was for the first time in all these years I realised what freedom is and how I have taken it for granted. I might blame my government for a lot of things but I never saw that it had at least given me the right to complain. I do not know the price that the fighters had to pay for our freedom, however, I will make an attempt to make the country worthy of that price.
Today, I promise myself to make a sincere effort, so that after 5 years, on the 76th Independence day, I will see the nation of my dreams. Will you do the same?
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