[dropcap]August 15 is a spe[/dropcap]cial day in the life of the nation. It is about struggle and freedom; it is about dreams and aspirations; and it is about plurality, differences and peaceful coexistence.
The New Leam celebrates the day-our Independence, our historic anti-colonial struggle, and our urge to create a just society. With unconditional gratitude we invoke all those who fought, suffered, dreamed and loved-Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi with the art of ‘satyagraha’ teaching a wounded nation the lesson of fearlessness, Bhagat Singh making us realize the meaning of being young, and innumerable unknown heroes striving for what Tagore regarded as an ‘oceanic civilization’.
Yet, every moment is also a moment of reflection–an exercise in critical enquiry. Can freedom or independence be retained with gross inequality, violence and corruption? Think of the context in which we are celebrating the Independence day.
As the neo-liberal economy replaces the ‘socialist’ dream, we witness the assertion of the rich-the corporate/business elite, their aggressive presence in the domain of politics, media and culture. While five star private hospitals boast of latest technologies of organ transplant,and ‘health tourism’ from Africa and Middle East, it is becoming exceedingly difficult for the poor and the lower middle class to get good health care in poorly managed/over-crowded government hospitals. Likewise, as education is becoming a business, it begins to eliminate and exclude a large section of the population. In a way, it reproduces inequality.
In the realm of culture too we are not doing well. While consumerism intensifies greed and violence in society, irresponsible television channels, toxic social media and growing mass culture filled with the iconography of cricket, Bollywood and beauty queens are taking us closer to what social psychologists would have regarded as the ‘psychology of fascism’.Again, religion seems to have been reduced into an ideology of separation and hatred. Where is Kabir or Buddha? Where is Tagore’s Upanishadic quest, or Gandhi’s prayer? With growing communalization of the social space we find ourselves in a situation that possibly needs a literary genius like Manto to narrate the harsh reality of violence, sexual objectification and moral degradation.
Well, the the heritage of the democratic spirit refuses to die. No wonder, amid darkness, we see the rays of hope–young students from public universities are raising their voice: farmers, despite hardships, are struggling; environmentalists are protesting against the violence of ‘development’; and sensitive Gandhians/socialists are articulating the voices of the margins of history-tribals forest dwellers and ethnic minorities.
Possibly, as Sufi masters remind us, nothing remains permanent. The mighty ruler of today might consider himself immortal; yet, like a flowing river, things change. Hence The New Leam believes that our dream to create a better world is our only treasure. We should not allow it to die.
Yes, let the ceremony of the Independence day give us the moral strength to fight injustice and exploitation, and create a better society.
Best wishes to our readers.