Sunday, 12 August 2012

A Flawed Freedom

We inch closer to another 15th August and I think this is the right time for us to introspect on the very idea of "freedom". Theoretically, we are taught to believe that we are free but think of it on a deeper level, are we really free? Hence, it becomes important for us to reflect and debate who is technically free a man/woman and who isn't? Freedom holds different meanings for different people. For me personally, real freedom would when we overcome obstacles such as censorship, manual scavenging, repressive laws and moral policing and to live without being mocked at. 

Our Government loves censoring content. In Iran, we have a talented filmmaker like Jafar Panahi who has been banned from making films till 2030. Closer home, the Government here often talks about censoring online content and filtering "obscene" content floating online. A film like "Paanch" is termed being radical in approach and is accused of having a communal colour hence it is not allowed to be released in theatres. The NCERT textbooks are now devoid of political cartoons because it offends the sensibilities of our politicians. 

However modern and civilized we claim to be, we have a cop who goes around with a hockey stick and of course, not to forget the moral police who invoke repressive laws to keep our society in control and to protect the "Indian culture". A mature society should have the ability to decide what kind of laws protect the interests of the society at large. Invoking repressive laws to keep the society at bay is not a solution as it encourages a negative mindset about the type of people in a society such as this where repressive laws are invoked. As citizens of a free country, we must have the right to choose and party the way we want to without the fear of being thrown out due to a few cops.  

We should be able to drive down home even at 3 am without the fear of being shot at similar to what happened to journalist Soumya Viswanathan without being dubbed as being "adventurous". We should have the right to dress the way we want to without being apologetic and answerable to anyone. We should also respect and be free walk down the roads without being stared or being mocked at. 

It is only when we achieve this kind of a society that we can truly claim our freedom. Perhaps, for the time being, we have to agree with the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said: "Nothing has been purchased more dearly than the little bit of reason and sense of freedom which now constitutes our pride." On that note, wishing you a Happy Independence Day!

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