By ROLI S
There is so much talk about freedom, independence and the licence to do things as one wants, especially when the whole country has been engulfed in the patriotic fervour of celebrating seventy-five years of Independence. To the youth of the country, these days, freedom means freedom of choice – being able to choose exactly what they want to do. Going out late in the night or going for a run early in the morning. Youth want a life, where they are free to choose how to lead it. They also do not want to live in fear; they want to be free of fear. Why should the women of a country be living in fear of assault on their being, both, mentally and physically? Why should the men be scared of the responsibilities the society throws on their shoulders? From travelling in taxis, going to theme parties, to choosing the government, the young citizens should be able to live their life without fear. Criticising governments for every action taken for the solidarity and progress of the country, if it makes them uncomfortable, is freedom. Being accepted by society and the people around despite their choices are another form of freedom for the youth. To be free is to be confident, to be sure of yourself and to be at a place where you are proud to be just you. Freedom may be a very subjective term, but everybody in the country deserves to feel free. Especially, why should the youth feel alienated in their own country, on their own soil?
Freedom for the youth of today – the freedom of choice, freedom of speech, freedom from fear, freedom of thought – all these types of freedom have come at the cost of the lives of the many fearless Bravehearts. Who at the time did not think about any of the types of freedom that the privileged youth of free India would demand, because at the time when the whole country was imprisoned and in captivity, then the only right they demanded was, “Swarajya hamara janmasiddh adhikaar hai”. They were demanding a free country, an independent nation to breathe freely because the freedom to even live and exist as Indians in their own motherland was not given to them!
Youth living in the country today must take note of the price those young daredevil freedom fighters were willing to pay. A sprightly young man called Bhagat Singh, who was very fond of reading books and used to appreciate literature, had to pick up the gun for the freedom that we celebrate today. “They may kill me, but they cannot kill my ideas,” was his war cry. “Dushman ki goliyon ka hum saamna karenge, Azad hee rahein hain, Azad hee rahenge,” was the way freedom was demanded by another young man named Chandrashekhar Azad. Who can forget the promise of freedom by none other than Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose? “Tum Mujhe Khoon Do, Mai Tumhe Azadi Dunga.”
Even today, the kind of freedom the youth demand in their everyday life does not come free. Because, at the borders, soldiers are still willing to give up their lives to defend freedom, which was won when many raised their hands to perform their duty, dreaming of an independent nation, whose seventy fifth year of freedom has been celebrated this year.
To the upwardly mobile modern youth, today, who find the whole world beckoning to them, the voices of these young freedom fighters of the past may seem distant, unimportant and out of place but, if they demand freedom of thought, freedom from fear, freedom of choice today from the government of the country, then their first and foremost fundamental duty is to love their nation. Own it, be proud of it and be ready to stand by it in good times and bad, because the ambitious youths who gave up their lives fighting for a free India at least deserve that much respect in return. Let us not be selfish all the time but do our best to keep India free of any threat that endangers its progress, its integrity and its identity. Because Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, popularly called as Babasaheb, a prominent personality who is known as the “chief architect and the father of Indian Constitution” believed that self-help leads to self-improvement. He opined, “If you believe in living a respectable life, you believe in self-help which is the best help.” Because Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel said, “Every citizen of India must remember that… he is an Indian and he has every right and freedom in this country but with certain duties.”
(Roli S is an Educator, Teacher Trainer, Author and School Reviewer based in Mumbai)