This wish of mine might be offensive to some. I would come to ‘whom’ and ‘why’ later. Firstly, let me start by saying Happy 74th Independence Day to those who have been independent for the past 73 years. I am excluding a few. Why? Because I don’t think they are independent. At all. Curious? Let me elucidate.
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Most of us are celebrating 73 years of Independence in our households with a general consensus of being free within the house. Look beyond that consensus. It veils the plight of the mother, who has surely not been independent for the past many years; that of the grandmother, whose only chunk of freedom lay in her ailments and age, which one day had her excused from the duties of a household slave. A patriarchal world can never be totally Independent.
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Talking about patriarchy, look towards the daughters now. Maybe your family is quite forward and has not placed any restrictions on their children. But what’s the gut feeling you get when a young girl in your house wants to go out alone after it is dark? If it’s that of fear, I am sorry to say that she is not independent. There is a rape reported every 15 minutes in the country. We cannot imagine the number of incidents not being reported. More than 50 lakh cases of crimes against women were reported in 2018 alone, including acid attacks, domestic violence, molestation, rape, Etc. Those who are afraid are not independent.
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Coming to fear now, there are still those in the country who are victims of fanatic violence. There are so many who are expected to ‘prove’ their patriotism merely because of their religion. Furthermore, there are those who are consistently facing the barriers of caste, language, etcetera. If you are afraid to speak your mind, if you are afraid of going to certain places, if you are afraid of socialising with someone else, if you are made to feel lesser than anyone else who calls themselves ‘Indian’, if you are still to find your identity within this nation, then you are not Independent.
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Identity… Yes… For more than 70 years, many of the people in India didn’t have an identity at all. If you exist but are told that your existence is illegal, I don’t think you are at all free. Even after winning the ‘legal’ battle, the one that exists in the social sphere is greater. Our society doesn’t understand the LGBTQ+ community. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have had to make a separate community in the first place. If insults are hurled at you, if there is a social boycott against you, if just generally you are not considered ‘normal’ because of your gender identity or your sexual orientation, I am sorry but you are not independent.
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So, this is just a summarisation. There is so much more we can talk about. Firstly, just like me, if you have not personally experienced the aforementioned, congratulations, you are independent. We generally tend to assess the world from the level of comfort and support it is providing us, ignoring others along the way. That brings us to why this wish of mine is offensive to a few. Many fear that in the process of making the world comfortable for a few others, their own comfort might be usurped. They are the ones who get offended by the very idea of someone else’s plight, simply rebuking it. They either corroborate the differentiation by re-iterating it viz. ‘Girls should wear longer clothes’, ‘If you are not free here then go to XYZ country’, ‘We gave ‘them’ reservation, they are the privileged ones’ or ‘How can you love someone of the same gender?’, Etcetera; or they take offence and start abusing you for seeking freedom and in this case even me. These are the ones who are definitely independent in the country. So, once again, to those who are independent, it is time to compromise a little of your comfort for the freedom of others. And to those who aren’t yet independent, the fight is not over. Jai Hind!

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