As we celebrate this day of freedom, let us salute the heroes who sacrificed their lives for the right and freedom we enjoy today. We remember the great services rendered by the founding father of the Indian Nationalism, Dr. Dadabhai Naoroji – the first Asian member in the British Parliament, the first nationalist who advocated Swaraj or self-rule. His book on ‘Poverty and Un-British rule in India’ brought worldwide awareness to India’s plight. He was called the ‘Father of the Nation’ by none other than Mahatma Gandhi, who was subsequently honoured with the same epithet.
At the time when India celebrated her fifth birthday of independence, Minoo Masani, yet another Parsi veteran freedom fighter – as also a journalist, author an MP – founded the Indian Committee of Cultural Freedom and published the magazine, ‘FREEDOM FIRST’, sharing the vision of leaders believing in ‘minimum government and maximum freedom’, to defend intellectual liberty and to cultivate a sense of responsibility among the masses.
Let us be reminded that Swaraj was not a free gift to us from another nation. It is a treasure purchased with the best blood of the nation. Today is not the day about celebrating the freedom of our country from the British rule. It is about making efforts to free ourselves from the bondage of ego, negativity and endeavouring towards an egalitarian society.
Freedom stands for something greater than just the right to act however you choose. It stands for security to everyone, an equal opportunity for life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for all. The basics expected by the people of the political and economic systems are:
- Equality of opportunities in the field of education for all children and youth.
- Job opportunities for all who can work.
- Security for women, children and weaker sections of the society.
- The termination of ‘special privileges’ for a few.
- The preservation of civil liberties to all sections of society.
- The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress, to raise the standard of living for the common man.
The history of pre-independent India was a golden saga of sacrifice and suffering bringing out the best in human nature. It is difficult to understand how suddenly such a sharp decline has come to our moral values, just after attaining our long cherished goal. Democracy and freedom seem to be a mockery as we are now the prisoners of passion, greed and corruption. Our politicians today, who claim to be the followers of Gandhi, have shattered his dream of India becoming a torchbearer to other nations, contributing to universal peace and progress.
With high inflation, low growth, heavy taxes and price rises the common man is finding it difficult to survive. The tillers of the soil, finding no solution to their problems, are ending their lives. Due to inefficient storage facilities, thousands of tons of grains are left to be infested and feasted on by rodents, while children are dying of starvation and malnutrition. What does democracy mean to these ignorant masses?
To bring about a permanent change, we have to inculcate our cultural values and virtues in our children making them aware of the struggles and sacrifices of the people who brought for us freedom to live with dignity. Once the flame of patriotism is kindled in their tender hearts, they will grow up into responsible citizens the pride and hope of the nation.