This Independence day, I saw a short film featuring actors Manoj Bajpayee and Ravina Tandon. For those of you who missed it, a helpless husband in a road accident trying to save his wife enters a restaurant full of foreigners, where the manager and staff beats him up and throws him out. Outside the restaurant reads a sign ‘Dogs and Indians are not allowed’, a message what life would have been, if we were still British colony. Then it shows they are being welcomed and treated like king in same restaurant because we are living in Independent India. If this is all independence is about, then I guess money has a huge role to play in it, because if a street poor today trying to save his wife in a road accident enters a restaurant and behaves the way Bajpayee did, then his fate wont be different from Bajpayee’s. Where is independence in it?
After a long struggle, abuse and sacrifice of almost a century, in August 1947 we got independence from British rule. Those who fought for it, for them it meant a lot, but for most it was a meager ceremony. People didn’t see any drastic change on ground, what they had hoped for, things just kept moving with same pace and direction. People went to same work, paid same taxes and were held accountable by same law enforcement and tried under same laws. Add to it, Independence that was promised as a Utopian dream ended up being partition nightmare. Fight for Independence was nothing but a meager power struggle between white British and brown British and in august 1947 transfer of power took place after two centuries; a transfer of power that takes place every 5 years now.
Whether we like it or not, and no matter what our historians claims, but our ruling class whether it was Pandit Nehru or Mahatma Gandhi was more British in thought and intellect than Indian. These were people of means who studied abroad, spoke English, behaved English and had an English thought process. They were not from the struggling strata of society for which survival under a foreign rule was a daily challenge. They really didn’t know India until they went on to ‘Discovery of India’ to understand it. They never saw any apparent problem with British, accept the fact that decision making about India was being held in London and not in Delhi; and once in power they were not against most of British policies, rules or laws, afterall British were doing a good job in governing the country (we are still governed by archaic laws framed by British during pre-independence era).
When America won war of Independence from British, George Washington was faced with a pertinent question; ‘How to run the country?’ to which he came up with a simple answer, we will do everything opposite to what British did. Nehru-Gandhi faced the same question in 1947 to which they came up with a simpler answer we will continue to do what British did, and look where that got us.
67 years after independence we are still governed by British law, taught in British education system, hounded by the British inspector raj and administered by British bureaucracy. We are still struggling with poverty, illiteracy, unplanned growth, underdevelopment, hunger and crime. The weak are still being suppressed, poor exploited. For majority survival is still a daily struggle. Where is Independence?
Nothing seems to work properly in our country. The government employees are least bothered about performing their duties and would not lift a finger unless bribed for it. Money is the only language that everyone understands and if you have money then no rule or law applies to you. Earlier law was a tool of British to keep dissident voices under control; now it is a tool of government to harass the common people. The only law that works is ‘you show me face I will show you law’. Depending upon your social, financial and political status the law acts differently, with no one to listen or do anything about it. Politicians and criminals have a symbiotic relation, no one can challenge or change it and the government of the people, for the people and by the people, seems to be working to ‘off’ the people, ‘buy’ the people and ‘force’ the people. The British considered all Indians as enemies and made laws accordingly. The government treats all Indians as thieves and makes law accordingly. Every new policy or rule the government brings, it is meant to make your life hellish. Where is Independence?
Every independence day we remember the struggle of those who fought for independence and thank God that we are free. We talk about how things have changed. Lot of things might have changed in independent India, but what all had hoped and fought for, haven’t really changed. The only change I can make out, earlier British looted the country and took the wealth to Britain, now Indians loot the country and take the wealth to Swiz accounts. Where is Independence?