Freedom is the one thing that has been dear to all people right from the beginning of time. In the Stone Age, man wanted freedom from wild animals and so he discovered fire. To obtain freedom from the religious differences that his subjects faced, Akbar created din-i-llahi. To gain freedom from the Russians inAfghanistan, the Taliban was created. Accordingly history shows us many examples of man’s love for freedom. It is a topic that often raises dispute, as its true meaning is defined differently by different people. That is because freedom is different. It differs from person to person. For an infant the freedom to cross the road means a lot, but it would mean nothing to a grown adult. But no matter what form it is seen in, it is cherished everywhere in this world. That is why the independence day of any nation is considered to be the most important day of the whole year.
But what does freedom mean? Is it making oneself happy? Or is it making others happy? A Greek historian named Thucydides said that the secret to happiness is freedom. And the secret to freedom is courage. Indeed. When your mind is free of disturbances and troubles you will know true happiness. When the society around you is free you will be happy. But free from what?? Just becauseIndiagot independence in 1947 doesn’t mean that our country is free. For we aren’t free from poverty, communalism, terrorism, etc. It is not merely a label like the ones we used in school. Just because you label a notebook as your history notebook, it doesn’t become a history notebook. When you write your history notes in it, it will become a history notebook. Similarly, by claiming to be independent, you do not become independent. You have to show your independence to the world. But does that mean that you do absolutely what you want to do, without listening to a word that is said to you? No. you will merely make a fool of yourself. Like A.G. Gardiner said, in order that the liberties of all may be preserved, the liberties of everybody must be curtailed. To prove my point I would like to compare the freedom given to teenagers in the west and the east. Being from the east, I have observed that most of us here feel that we are not being given enough freedom. Yes. Compared to the west we are not given as much freedom, but do we publicly humiliate fat people? Do we consider loosing our virginity in our teens normal? No, we don’t. It is because we have been curtailed in certain aspects that we have a certain sense of moral responsibility. Whereas in the west, teens have not been curtailed in areas where they should have been and as a result they feel they can do what they want to do.
Taking another aspect of freedom, I would like to go back to the time of the great Mahatma. Gandhiji wanted freedom for our country. We got it. Or did we? He gave us the freedom to make our own salt and to wear our own clothes. But what are we doing today? Do we buy clothes from big bazaar or from the united colors of Benetton? Do we buy shoes from Bata or from Gucci? We have the freedom to make our own clothes but it is challenged by our liberty to spend our money lavishly. Then again we have also taken the liberty to go through a one way road when no one is looking; we have taken the liberty to urinate on the road and to drink on a dry day. So right from Gandhiji’s time we have had a lot of freedom. But it is up to us to choose what is right for us. That is why it is said that just like freedom is a label, it is also a license. We must not take our independence for granted, for like Stephen Covey said while we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.
InIndiawe have been given the right to freedom. It includes the freedom of speech or expression. But we do not openly abuse others. We do not express views that might be susceptible or sensitive. For example, in the case of Raj Thakeray, who publicly opposed the migrants from northIndiainMaharashtra. It created uproar as all north Indians were deeply hurt by his words. Learning from his mistake, we keep our opinions to ourselves about such things and try to curtail such thoughts. Mahatma Gandhi once said freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes. We have made our mistakes and we have dealt with the consequences. It is now time to confidently take a stride towards the right freedom. That is, the freedom which we require or the freedom which we need- and not the one that we want.