What do I celebrate?

Posted: August 14, 2010 in Freedom, India

It was not long ago that I had frowned upon at an experiment carried out by “The Times of India” to not capitalize the first person, singular, personal pronoun “I”. And today, as India celebrates its political independence, I am wondering if it’s any relevant. Isn’t it comic that a daily which tried to downplay the importance of an individual by resorting to symbolic gestures like the one mentioned above, will perhaps have the most colorful coverage on the issue of Independence? We live in strangely humorous times.

There is going to be a lot written about the independence struggle. What was it really? Did they fight for Independence or for a more collectivist notion of sovereignty? I have always thought that what India achieved was sovereignty and not independence. They desired that the land be ruled by people who were natives. And this idea was sold to everybody as essentially being equivalent to independence. Sixty-three years later, India has more than a billion people who believe they are independent. An independence which doesn’t protect ones right to express himself (without having to be banned under the banner of hurting sentiments), where laws are amended every other day to make people dependent on archaic government machinery, where civil liberties are routinely trampled upon. One can never overlook how the government essentially takes half a day of your life everyday under the garb of imposing time restrictions on commercial establishments like restaurants. And yet not on a single occasion has the fifteenth day of August been overlooked in favor of a more thoughtful question on independence.

As long as sovereignty is seen as being far more important than independence, as long as it’s not accepted that independence is not a collectivist ideology and as long as the personal pronoun fills one with regret as opposed to pleasure, India will continue to remain what it is; Sovereign and not independent. And I shall certainly not celebrate.