Bol Ke Lab Azaad Hain Tere

Independence Day Musings: Freedom, Justice and Social Movement Series

Afroz Alam Sahil and Kamala Kanta Dash

We were ruled for hundreds of years before we got independence on this day in 1947. As we got independence the responsibility of governance came on our shoulders.  It is well known that the freedom struggle was not fought by only a few selected leaders rather it was equally participated by people from all walks of life, all communities and regions of the country.  Hence it was obvious that each citizen would have an equal share in the governance of this country. That is why the intellectuals and leaders of the movement wanted new rules and principles to build a vibrant and inclusive democracy. That is how the constitution came in to being. The constitution makers wanted to ensure that the emerging political system must reflect the diversity in the society and must respect the culture, tradition and other social challenges.

PM Manmohan Singh addressing the nation from Red Fort

The country today celebrates 65th anniversary of the independence. In last 64 years each year the Prime Minister of the country hoists the national tricolour and addresses to the nation as Dr. Manmohan Singh did today.  These addresses normally entail the contemporary challenges before the nation and the government’s approach in dealing with those. Invariably the Prime Minister counts the policy measures as if they have been doing a great favour to the nation and to its people.

We must be reminded that despite traversing a significant distance in economic development we have not been able to sustain the notion and euphoria of freedom that we felt in 1947. The concept and interpretation of freedom has changed.  Most people are reluctant to talk about freedom.  The mode of celebrating the Independence Day has changed and it will not be an exaggeration to brand the celebration as a mere formality that lacks substance.  The constitutional promise of working for the interest of the people as the guiding principle has been substituted by the protection of the interest of the ruling class.

The Lokpal’s unsuccessful journey in the last four decades is indicative of the vested interest that the government in power always wants to protect. The UPA-II is no different. This morning’s address where the Prime Minister has mentioned about the futility of fasting as a method of political protest is nothing but closing down the doors on non-violent struggles in the country.  So what option remains to demonstrate political dissent? Naxalites have taken up arms and some Muslim youth have been radicalized. If we say that the state has failed to deliver justice and has closed the doors of grievance redressal then someone in the government can brand us as sympathizers of Maoism and fundamentalism and stake claim for itself as the biggest protector of human rights and justice.  If the government is really serious about grievance redressal let it bring a law to ensure the Right to Justice.

Let the government know that failure of the State leads to social movements. If you don’t allow peaceful protests to express political and policy dissent irrespective of the protestors’ political affiliation and motive, the state is contradicting its offer of dialogue with the Maoists.

This is the first part of a series of articles. The remaining articles will feature on this site throughout 2011 on each weekend. The authors are affiliated to Initiative for Nationalism, Secularism and Affirmative Action Network (INSAAN). Afroz is also the Editor (Investigation)of BH.

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