By Vijay Darda
Once in Pakistan, the journalists there asked me why despite India and Pakistan attaining independence at the same time, India marched ahead and Pakistan remained behind? I answered them that we have Gandhi and Freedom of Press. It may be that our politicians cause some flutter but it is certain that they do not sell the country.
I told Pakistani journalists the truth, but some questions continue to crop up in my mind. Have we really achieved complete freedom? I visit many countries of the world and naturally, compare our country with those countries. When I see people standing in a queue in Japan and see public discipline in Europe, naturally I ask myself why this kind of discipline is not seen in our country? In our place, people fight over the issue like who stood up at the time of national anthem or flag hoisting and who did not!
The culture of our country is thousands of years old. We have Buddha, Mahavira and Gita. We gave the world world-class universities such as Nalanda and Takshshila centuries ago. We have a tradition of Gurukul here. Despite this, national character is not visible in today’s era. It is a serious issue.
The national character is seen in the citizens of every developed country of the world. We do not see it here. When I read that a military official is caught in the honey-trap and the intelligence is leaked out to the enemy, I become extremely sad and sullen. Why corruption has become part of life in our country? You can see in any part of the country that normal roads also do not have an A grade. A part of the road is also mired in corruption! Freedom from corruption is also a part of real freedom!
A question always haunts my mind as to why the citizens are not wedded to their duty? Do the public representatives who are elected to the Parliament, legislative assemblies, legislative councils, district panchayats or municipalities, do their work honestly? After all, how many representatives play their role diligently? Do we keep our conduct according to the constitution drafted by Dr Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar?
To me being a citizen of a free country is the biggest asset. That’s why Independence Day is also called the National Festival. There can be no bigger festival than this. We all are very happy but when we see that this day of freedom is to be celebrated under the shadow of the gun, the heart sinks. Not only that the prime minister, who has given speeches from the ramparts of the Red Fort, has to stay in strict security, but there are policemen even where the national flag is hoisted officially.
The question arises as to why this is the condition of an independent country where fear stalks every moment. There is external terrorism; inner terrorism has also troubled us. When shall we get freedom from this shadow of terror?
One fact of the present day is that our society is being divided in the name of caste, religion, sect and language. According to me, cows should be protected but the human beings should also be protected. We have to understand that there are enemies within that live amidst us and who are difficult to identify. We also need freedom from these enemies.
When we talk of complete freedom, then in my eyes poverty and hunger are the biggest issues. Even though statistically, the poverty of the country has diminished and many schemes are also going on, but when it is learnt that a child has died due to starvation, then one shivers with trepidation! Food and medicine are the basic rights of the common man. Why has our government failed to deliver these rights? This question bothers why a person has to carry his wife, child or mother’s body on his shoulders? Does the system or humanity not feel ashamed of it.
Why are our daughters not happy in this country? I do not want to quote the statistics, but the fact is that incidents of rape are happening one after another. Children in the Shelter Homes are being victimised and used for carnal crimes and no one’s blood is boiling with rage at these atrocities?
After all, why such doubts arise that efforts are being made to save the people who perpetrate such sinful acts? The system should be so transparent and the law should be so strict that no one can dare do any such kind of mischief! Are we really giving our daughters and women the freedom? Some families practise a sense of equality but in most families, women are not able to fight for their rights.
I do not say that our politics, our government and our system are doing nothing. But we will also have to deal with the stumbling block. What is the condition of the media today, it is not hidden from anyone. The Editors Guild has to issue a statement that pressure should be stopped, and of course this is a serious matter. Any movement anywhere today becomes violent leaving behind a trail of death and destruction. The situation is so serious that even the Supreme Court has to make a strong comment. Actually, this situation is because we have not been able to develop the national character.
I believe that there is clear need for major changes at the level of the society and major policy changes at the government level too, that could lead us to the fullness of freedom where every citizen of the country feels independent. Actually, there is nothing bigger than the country. Love your country. Every step you take should be for the country. Only then we will be able to achieve true and complete independence.
Before I conclude
Around 889 soldiers of the CRPF, deployed in Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra have really set an excellent example by announcing to donate their organs. This sentiment should spread across the country. If some parts of the body of each deceased can be made useful to other people, it will be the biggest victory of humanity. There should be an arrangement at the government level that the organs of the deceased can be delivered immediately to the needy.
Vijay Darda has been the chief visionary and driving force behind Lokmat, a leading multi-platform media company. He is a recipient of several prestigious awards including the Feroze Gandhi Memorial Award for excellence in journalism in 1990-91.
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