As India turns 67, a generation far from the ones who got us freedom introspect on the meaning of independence in their relatively new and different contexts. THE METROPLUS TEAM meets some young achievers, all of whom wish to take the Indian freedom dream forward
(Vice-captain of the Indian hockey team)
Independence Day was always associated with a holiday. A day I, like many children, looked forward to. Today, as a youngster, I have come to realise the sacrifices of so many people that made this happen; people who sacrificed their happiness, their lives for us. If we cannot go out there and do something for our country at least we can think of those great men and their sacrifices. Every year, in his chosen field, one can lend a hand for the sake of the nation. My duty will be to guard the goal of the Indian hockey team as best as I can.
Frankly, our engagement with Independence Day and patriotism was much more passionate while at school. This is what I feel. As you grow up this day becomes just another holiday. What we need to do is to create more awareness about this day, have more activities where youngsters now immersed in the tough toil of life can get involved. I think there must be something more to make this day count; some sort of a connect needs to be created.
Jithin Chacko Nedumala
(CEO of Make A Difference)
Independence from British rule was probably one of the biggest achievements of my grandparents’ generation, I don’t know what my generation will achievement achieve. I am hoping it would be independence from education inequality. India has some of the worst problems in the world and we need the best minds in India to solve them. Unfortunately the best minds of our previous generation either left the country or were focussed on personal wealth creation. But I believe my generation is different. Many youngsters are working on solving some of India’s most pressing problems and the number is only increasing. This, I believe, is the dawn of India’s second Independence movement.
When one was much younger, in school, Independence Day was all about getting a holiday and flag hoisting by the headmaster. As I grew up the meaning of independence changed and the relevance changed with more ‘grown-up’ preoccupations. But to my mind the meaning of freedom, in this age, should be placed within a broader context. You cannot take away the importance of the freedom struggle and what it means to us as a people. It should also be interpreted in the sense of freedom – to create – of artistic freedom for artistic expression. Creating an atmosphere where one can be creative without any fears.
I don’t think we should stick to remembering our freedom fighters on just Independence Day. We are the generation that know of Independence from what our grandparents have experienced of it. For us it may be bookish knowledge. But all the freedoms that we experience today are because of what they did. So it is important that the youth constantly remember their sacrifices, and they do. The recent outrage at the death of jawans is proof of that! Every Independence Day, I used to buy flags and place them at our home and in the car. Nowadays, in the music industry, August 15 is an occasion for many concerts, but other than Rahman’s Vande Mataram album, I can’t recall much patriotic music being produced often.
Being brought up entirely outside of India, I had no real sense of belonging to the place that I was born in. My parents and the Indian schools I went to made sure I was aware of where I came from and how it was a grand struggle to reach where we are today. I remember heading to India on holidays for a month or two in a year and being overjoyed to go back ‘home’ to another country. Being an avid cricket fan, my patriotism surfaced and overflowed during most India games. Things changed when my exhibition brought me back to my homeland a few years ago. A month later, I realised what it truly meant to be free. The place I called home once had provided me a false sense of security. This was my country. I belonged here. I have rights. My voice would be heard should I need to say something. On Independence Day, I am thankful. Thankful to the country that gave birth to the countless stories I paint. Thankful for giving me the freedom to be who I am.
I think Independence Day is a celebration of belief. One man believed that this country could be independent and that belief spurred the nation on. In Kerala, our first leaders did not have a benchmark to compare development against, so they tried to make the best State possible, and I think today most of those goals have been achieved and any issues that remain stem from us not knowing how to live with this prosperity. Now, we have a foundation, and while Kerala may have lacked the heavy industries that sustained the nation’s development after Independence, now the need of the hour is technology and human capital. These we possess in abundance and now our youth has taken up the gauntlet. As a youth, I am happy to see so many youngsters believing, just like Gandhi did all those years ago, and I dream of the youngsters of today taking up our elders’ beliefs and taking the State and country to even greater heights.