64 years on, are we really free?

State of the nation this Independence Day

64 years on, are we really free?
The beautiful tricolor

64 years ago, at midnight, India was free. Free of colonialism. Free of imperialism. Ready to march into a new era. Or so we thought. We were free of the shackles that bound us and constrained us and India was all set to move on with a renewed vigor and unity never before observed in its 10,000-year history.

Again, shall I say, so we thought. Because all this was simply not to be. Soon after attaining freedom, we faced infiltration from unfriendly neighbors for a specific state called Kashmir. That issue troubles us to this day and has given an ugly by-product called terrorism. Terrorism has reared its ugly head time and again. For more on this, read my recent piece on the terrorist attacks that shook Mumbai.

India is a free country but the problems which plague us today in effect nullify it. Take poverty for instance. Yes, it has reduced by a great deal from 1947 to 2011. However, it is still the single largest issue affecting the Indian Union today. Moreover, the problem is that all the mechanisms to reduce this are in place but they are simply not functioning. We have NREGA to alleviate poverty. Everyone knows that it doesn't give results how it is expected to give. Then, there is the Public Distribution System which is supposed to distribute grains but ends up filling the distributor's coffers. The root cause is corruption. Corruption has engulfed every facet of society. All schemes are drawn up with great fanfare but everything, yes everything, succumbs to corruption. We all know what happened in the CWG Scam or 2G Scam. I don't wish to elaborate.

If it is not corruption, it is mismanagement. For the past few years, the farmers of India have toiled and toiled and produced bumper harvests year after year. The excess grains have been given to be stored in the FCI Godowns. In such a situation, you would think that the country would be free from hunger and starvation. But, that's hardly the truth. Hunger and starvation levels refuse to come down. The recent media expose showed how grains were rotting in the godowns in the rains and being eaten up by rats in the dry season. If this is the state of affairs what will happen when we are actually short of food?

And, we have the other big menace of caste in our country. SC, ST, OBC, MBC, blah blah. The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi envisaged that India will be truly free only when it is free of caste, poverty, and hunger. Poverty remains. Hunger continues. And most saddeningly, caste continues to thrive in 21st century India. It continues to survive in a country which boasts of 9% growth driven forward by a highly successful IT sector which supports the United States.

Alright, enough of the bashing. India is not just a country of negatives. There are a whole lot of positives as well!! 😃

We are the world's second largest growing economy behind China. We have an IT sector which is running the whole world. The culture and diversity of India is unmatched and despite so many issues, we live together in a multi-cultural land. We have a rich history and beautiful heritage. When the British ruled us, India showed how it can be as a united force. It is time to show that spirit to the world again!

So, are we really free? I would say the answer is yes and no. Can we achieve former President APJ Abdul Kalam's dream of India 2020. Maybe. Maybe not. Nevertheless, it is the people who can do it. As the old maxim goes, "Where there is a will, there is a way".

This is what I think on India's 65th Independence Day. Let me know what you think in the comments section below. And enjoy this YouTube video which is the country's national anthem along with English translations.

Jai Hind!