The River of Freedom

As a Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi was a controversial figure. Whether she was a good prime minister or merely a power hungry hypocrite is left to individual discretion. What is undeniable is the fact that she was a born leader, an eloquent speaker and a brilliant writer. In a 1967 convocation address at Shantiniketan she says –

As we enter the third decade of freedom, certain over-simplified ideas of democracy have begun to gain currency. There is a feeling that whatever the people do is right. But the divine right of the people, which is enshrined in democracy, also requires that the will of the people be expressed through reflection and judgement. Every democratic system evolves its own conventions. It is not only the water but the banks which make the river.

This marvellous analogy of democracy and even society being a river is especially true today. Too many people today mistake democracy as merely being a right and not a responsibility. Indian democracy is a river not like the Amazon, wide and strong, but more like the Mithi, narrow, meek and a cesspool of much that is wrong with us.

People I know whine about the legal drinking age not being 18. They want the freedom to drink, yet some do not respect the laws which are aimed at preventing drunk driving. They complain about the rickshaw drivers cutting them off yet they inch over the zebra crossing till they are halfway across the red light. They complain about the noise made by neighbours but don’t stop yelling out at their friend’s birthdays in restaurants.

Truth be told, we all hold some things sacred and we cannot bear to see someone violate our principles. If what someone else does is their personal choice which does not harm anyone else, what is our problem? But hardly anyone shares this view. Even if they do, they do not practice it. And the people in power take advantage of our hypocrisy and make the river even narrower.

If any of my MNS or Shiv Sena supporting friends go outside Maharashtra and get the same treatment as “outsiders” get in Mumbai, naturally the reaction would be outrage and anger. Yet they don’t stop to think about this but espouse Raj Thakarey’s views.

The freedoms we enjoy should be limited to the point where we respect the freedom of others. As Uncle Ben says to Peter, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Cliched as that sounds, we should stop and ask ourselves what we want to be, the Amazon or the Mithi.

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7 Comments

Filed under India, Opinion

7 responses to “The River of Freedom

  1. kirti

    ‘It is not only the water but the banks which make the river.’ It makes perfect sense in more ways than one.
    I like your post, I agree completely too.
    Hypocrisy runs in Indian blood. I cannot comment on people around the world simply because I havent had any exposure. But yes, we Indians are flawed.
    But do you realistically believe things can change beyond a point. I mean, for decades we have grown into the shoes we wear now, we have adjusted to a style of living, be it good or bad, right or wrong, and we have, though reluctantly, accepted the way our society works..I may sound cynical but it is almost impossible to change the current state of things beyond a point. It will need more than just vigilance and awareness and such realizations..
    But it is good to hope…:)
    and good to realize atleast, that we are flawed..

    • The very problem stems from the fact that we declare the problem unsolvable. We cannot all be revolutionaries but the things within our power we can do right? At the signal we can at least wait till the light turns green even though the guy behind us is honking. He can wait too. Sounds easy but takes a bit of courage to do that too.

  2. randomabstractions

    I’m starting to like your blog even more. Nice post da.

    It is what I was thinking the other day and going to write. You know, in trains – these females crowd the gates right from Parle/Andheri to get off at Goregaon/Malad. It’s a very trivial thing. But people would not change. People do not want to change. They think its too much of a task. And mostly like you mentioned-we just state certain things as undo-able. Change figures at the top of the list.

    It’s not about being a revolutionary. It’s about doing what you are supposed to be doing. Revolution is only a time when one man decided to do his duty and fulfill his responsibility.

    I remembered this immediately as I read the post : http://www.hindustantimes.com/Haneef-India-s-hypocrisy/Article1-237769.aspx

  3. randomabstractions

    I’m starting to like your blog even more. Nice post da.

    It is what I was thinking the other day and going to write. You know, in trains – these females crowd the gates right from Parle/Andheri to get off at Goregaon/Malad. It’s a very trivial thing. But people would not change. People do not want to change. They think its too much of a task. And mostly like you mentioned-we just state certain things as undo-able. Change figures at the top of the list.

    It’s not about being a revolutionary. It’s about doing what you are supposed to be doing. Revolution is only a time when one man decided to do his duty and fulfill his responsibility.

    I remembered this immediately as I read the post : http://www.hindustantimes.com/Haneef-India-s-hypocrisy/Article1-237769.aspx

  4. randomabstractions

    Okay my mouse button is spoiled. This got posted twice. Delete !

  5. preeti

    Hypocrisy cannot be said to be a trait only present in the indians. It is inherent in the people who wish to use crooked ways to win and I guess, a politician is an epitome of hypocrisy.

    But you are right. When people keep blaming someone else and they keep doing it, like even dirtying the road and the example u gave, crossing halfway thro the signal when its still red, its bound never to change. But then, you know, even if one person wishes to change and does too, u find very few ppl who actually take up the cause.
    Like take for example, meter jam. Loads of ppl went by rickshaw in spite of it being an initiative for everyone. People need to sacrifice and support which no one will. They wil be ready to support ngo and all cuz all they have to give is mone,most of them. But when it comes to rules, few ppl doing something doesn’t help. Doesn’t mean they should be disheartened though but they will.

    It is possible but a huge wave has to has to be created, for that I seriously think you should become a politician! good change you will do 😀

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