Thursday, August 13, 2009

Towards Freedom

India is gearing up to celebrate Independence Day and usher in the festival season. This is that time of year, when our achievements as a country are faithfully recounted by the media, the time when we promise to redeem our pledge to become a developed nation and take pride in our status as a thriving democracy. This year, all this will take place under the shadow of the Swine Flu. But even as the threat of the H1N1 virus looms large, we forget that there are many other shadows that are invisible but yet are a reality to millions of Indians : poverty, child labour, illiteracy, displacement, malnutrition, domestic violence, physical, mental and sexual abuse, unemployment, ignorance and the list could go on. All these get enough attention both in the Indian the world media.

But do we pay enough attention to these?

We need to ask ourselves this as we prepare to go on a long weekend break or lament the closure of malls and theatres in some cities just when there are holidays. As we reach for our credit cards to pay for that dinner at a fancy restaurant , or the Gucci bag, or the trekking shoes the extra shirt that we don't really need, we need to pause and think about all those who probably have not eaten in days, about the farmer who continues to kill himself, about the children who are out of school; the shoe shine boys, the children at traffic signals, the child infected with AIDS through no fault of his / hers, about the disabled with no home, about the juveniles, about the abandoned elderly, about the women who sell their bodies for a meal, about the planet that we all share and the depths to which we allow her to be degraded. The list is endless.

And as we gratefully usher in another Independence Day, we can, individually and collectively choose to set free all those imprisoned by the shadows. Let us resolve to contribute our time, effort and money for a cause that demands it. Each of us, can do this and bring about a change where each Indian is able to develop his / her capabilities to the fullest. We owe it to our country, to our fellow beings and most important to ourselves, to give and to give freely.

Let that be our pledge this Independence Day, to individually and collectively experience the Joy of Giving.

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