Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Are we truly independent?

Image Courtesy: Google
Seventy-five years ago, we told the British to Quit India. It's been seventy years since we achieved absolute independence. But are we truly independent? Do we really have the freedom to express our views—especially on topics such as religion, superstitious beliefs, and certain violent traditional practices—without the fear of getting arrested, or worse, murdered? The answer is sadly in the negative.

Women’s Safety

"The day a woman can walk freely at night, that day we can say that India has achieved independence."
- Mahatma Gandhi

Unfortunately, we are a long way away from realising Gandhiji's dream. As per the statistics, a woman is raped in India every 20 minutes. The safety of our women should be of paramount importance but not enough is being done—by our governments and our law enforcement agencies—to protect them. From college girls, single mothers to women from every stratum of society are being eve-teased, molested, raped, and murdered in the name of family's honour. If that wasn't enough, the women of our country are subjected to acid attacks, human trafficking, domestic violence and domestic rapes.

Are we ever going to realise Gandhiji's dream of making India a safe place for women to live?

Attack on Rationalists

Over the past few years—especially since the new government came into power in 2014—there have been increasing attacks on free speech in India. And those who dared to speak up against such practices have been categorically silenced.

In 2015, M.M. Kalburgi was shot dead on his doorstep because he was a long-standing critic of idol worship by the Hindus. Similarly, rationalists such as Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar have been killed for questioning some of India's religious superstitions.

India's secular values are what makes our country great; secularism has distinguished our country from our neighbours. But such attacks have threatened to dismantle the secular fabric of India, and it is a dangerous trend.

Cow-related violence and Jallikattu

I have been a vegetarian a proud animal lover all my life, but I have never imposed my beliefs on others. Under the purview of the law, every law-abiding citizen is free to follow their own personal diet. No one should be allowed to question that. The cow vigilantes aim to protect cows and prevent cow slaughter. But the number of Muslims and Dalits targeted and killed in the name of cow vigilantism tells a whole different story. The 2015 Dadri mob lynching is a prime example where a Muslim man was dragged out of his home and beaten to death because there was a rumour that he and his family were storing beef for consumption.

I respect each person's right to follow their religion, culture, and tradition. But hurting and abusing animals in the name of tradition is not acceptable. We must voice our support for the voiceless and not misuse them to propagate our personal superstitions.

Censorship in India

The censorship, especially in film and television in India, has taken a bizarre turn in the past few years. The Censor Board's job is to certify the movies based on their content. But when the chief of the Censor Board—influenced by his religious and political beliefs—starts acting like the judge and the jury, the freedom of expression is severely threatened. There have been a multitude of examples in the recent past that accentuate my point.

Parting Thoughts

India can truly become an independent and progressive nation, if only:
*Women are considered equal to men and are given equal opportunities to prove themselves.
*Everyone has the freedom to express themselves without the fear of backlash.
*You are allowed to love who you love and wear what you want, without being subjected to moral policing.
*Everyone gets to choose their own life partner and not chosen by their family or relatives.
*Irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, skin colour, religion, or caste—treat everyone with kindness and give them the respect a human being deserves.

Seventy-five years ago, we told the British to Quit India. The time has finally come for us to say, "Intolerance, Quit India."

2 comments:

  1. After such a long time Akshay! Good to see you break the spell! Keep posting. All the best!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your endless support and the constant encouragement. :)

      I wasn't planning to post this on the blog but changed my mind at the last moment.

      Delete

Please leave your precious comments here.