We, along with our readers, pay our humble homage to the great sons of India who suffered to make the nation-free. It was suffering unalloyed by any quid pro quo. if there was any such quid pro quo, it was incarceration, torture, humiliation and incapacitation.
We bow to those great sons of India who fought for freedom for freedom’s sake, some hailing from the lowliest ranks of common citizens, some throwing away the luxuries of life to which they were entitled by birth and diligence, some who were newly weds or the sole breadwinners of the family.
We salute the soldiers of freedom who were undaunted by the might of guns, who ascended the scaffold with a smile on their lips, who would not sell their conscience for office or honour and were blessed with families that deemed their martyrdom as a priceless gift of providence.
We recall to our ears the spiritual outpourings of the one and only Mahatma, the champion of ahimsa, the patriotic rhetoric of Nehru the prince among mortals, the down-to-earth talk of Patel, the iron man, and the mellifluous diction of Desabandhu Chittaranjan Das, the eloquence of Sathiyamurthi, the satire of Kriplani, the cold logic of Rajaji and the simplicity and honesty of Kamaraj whom many in Tamilnadu seek to emulate in vain.
How can we ever forget Netaji and his INA who steered clear of the Gandhian path in the teeth of the obloquy it invited on them and who could conquer some territory and unfold tricolour there with a courage tenacity all their own? But beyond recalling with gratitude and remembering those martyrs of our freedom struggle, what else have we as a nation to celebrate in this fiftieth year? Are we proud of the present day guardians of our freedom, who include the people and the politicians, as we are of the fathers of our freedom?
The spirit of freedom all but ended on the midnight of 14 August, 1947 giving way to a virtual free for all since then, culminating in this golden jubilee year of independence with no less than the Prime Minister of the country declaring that he is helpless against corruption!
When Jawaharlal warned the people on the eve of independence that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, little did he realise that he was addressing a nation which was getting into an eternal slumber. How else could one explain the present state of decay where anarchy is the order of the day with governments, be it single party or coalitions, demonstrating only their impotence and inability to cope with the problems confronting the nation; where corruption is all pervading and has even assumed a hierarchical character beginning with simple grease at the common man’s level to scams in ‘high place’; where the stranglehold of caste politics is so strong that even after fifty years India remains a house divided; and where five decades of economic independence has failed to improve the lot of the teeming (and still multiplying) millions while political uncertainties threaten to wipe out what little gains the country might have achieved in the few years of reforms?
Though it pains to paint a picture of gloom on the eve of such a momentous occasion, no, Indian can hide the inescapable feeling of guilt and even shame that we might have squandered the fruits of our hard earned freedom.
While we dedicate and rededicate ourselves, year after year to preserve and act upon the trust handed down by those great personalities, it has only been a case of progressive deterioration in values and systematic dilution of important institutions which are the pillars of our democracy.
As the golden jubilee revelry reaches a crescendo tonight and tomorrow, one has to acknowledge that beyond paying homage to the heroes of the past and hoping against hope for a saner future, there is very little to cheer and celebrate about the present.
email the writer to [email protected]