Tryst with destiny

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Exactly 70 years ago, India got freedom from British subjugation. But, are we free the in real sense? Parliamentarian examines the question in a series of in-depth reports on following pages…

“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. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”

Exactly 70 years ago, Jawahar Lal Nehru’s speech marked our Independence from centuries of colonial rule. The repression that kicked in after Mahatma Gandhi’s call of ‘Quit India’ on August 9, 1942 was unprecedented. Over 10,000 people were killed within 10 days and all prominent leaders were put behind the bar. The movement died down a few days later due to lack of a second line of leadership. But, it succeeded in igniting the passion among crores of Indians, to attain freedom. The Independence indeed, was achieved on August 15, 1947. There was a feeling of joy, fear of losing loved ones to partition, anxiety of things moving our way and a willingness to break new grounds.

We did break new grounds in many fields. Industrial Revolution, Green Revolution, White Revolution, Economic Liberalisation, over a hundred constitutional amendments and many socio-political movements helped us reach where we are today. Technology has reduced the world into a global village.

It is indeed a free world. Freedom of expression is enshrined in the Constitution as Fundamental Right. Government is also bringing law to ensure minimum wages for every citizen. It is working to ensure health for all. By using internet, it is ushering in transparency in government functioning. Right to Information has given people access to government files.

That should mean that we are moving in right direction, the way envisaged by the founders of our democracy. But are we? That is the critical question; Parliamentarian has attempted to answer in this Freedom Special issue.

Does a farmer have freedom to decide the price of his produce? How is it that the tomato sold by farmers at less than a rupee a kilo costs over Rs 100 for a kilo by the time it reaches the consumers?

Do we have freedom from corruption? From nepotism? Freedom from gender inequality, black money, naxalism, unemployment, casteism, racism, inflation, drugs, health hazards, superstitions, police brutality etc etc. The issues facing us are hundreds. Some have recently sprung up like – tech slavery, cricket obsession, hate and open defecation. Despite Prime Minister’s best efforts, Mission Sanitation meant to put an end to open defecation, is far off the target.

We are becoming more of slaves of our gadgets. We can’t remain away from them even for few minutes. Similarly, cricket is a religion to us and cricketers are like Gods. That puts other sports in an unnecessary shadow. How fair is killing of innocents in the name of protecting cows? When will get freedom from hate crimes? Questions like these abound.

This is a sincere effort by Parliamentarian to draw public attention to the issues facing the country today. The independence gained 70 years ago will remain meaningless will we attain freedom from all such issues.

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