NEW DELHI, August 14 (MIC): On the eve of sixty fifth year of India’s Independence, eminent personalities in different fields including five time world boxing champion Mary Kom voice their thoughts on freedom, how much of that achieved and how far we still have to go. In the topic-‘Freedom: The way I see it …’, the Times Life! of the Times of India Group put this topic to six selected prominent figures of the country.
Mary Kom, five-time world boxing champion made positive views and said, “ This question is actually as complicated to answer as it sounds simple ! I do believe that India has taken very large strides in becoming a truly free country, though there is still some way to go before we can be completely free”.
She stated, “The increasing freedom in India is manifest in so many ways- options on occupation including in sports being a viable career; options on goods, technologies, entertainment options, travel etc.; options and increasing access to education; access to the best Indian and International cinema, which while still censored, is obviosly being censored less and less and is reflecting the maturity and freedom of choice of the Indian audience- even the option to select one’s own life partner, which would have been well near impossible only a few years ago”.
Citing on her personal experience ; she said, “ My personal experience in becoming a boxer does perhaps tell the story of the increasing freedom in India. From the time I was laughed at when I made the decision to become a boxer to now, when I am respected for what I am and what I have achieved – everything suggests a transition in attitudes”.
Mary Kom further stated, “ That said, there are a lot of ways in which we still aren’t free. We still struggle to control our population,to ensure the safety of women, to fight violence on various fronts, to control corruption, to increase education and literacy and to improve health. Yet positive steps have been taken and I have no doubt that in the coming years, we will be a truly free country”.
“ It is imporatnt to remember that almost all countries, including free societies such as America or Europe, have in their past or are now undergoing a phase of transformation, where they have fought or are fighting against restrictions on their freedom and have moved or are moving towards a free society”, she added.
Scriptwriter Salim Khan remarked, “ We have only get the freedom to breathe. We can’t talk, we can’t demand. It is a very selective democracy. Freedom doesn’t merely mean driving the British out and hoisting our flag. Law and order, governance, administration was much better in the British period. I was 12 years old when we got our freedom and I have experienced those days. Today, people have the freedom to announce Bharat Bandh, they have the freedom to burn buses, freedom to block roads”.
Scriptwriter and lyricist Javed Akhtar said, “ Everybody should be free to protect his or her dignity. We as individuals have to be free of biases, prejudices, opportunism, corruption and only then we can have a completely free society”.
Filmmaker and columnist Pritish Nandy worried about the new incursions into personal freedom by radical fringe groups. He said, “ You can change governments that intrude upon your personal freedoms. But you cannot change the way some people think. The burning of books, the vandalising the libraries and art galleries, the outlawing of beer bars, beating up college girls who dress in jeans, prohibiting people below 25 from drinking, honour killings and of course these stupid meaningless bomb blasts meant to hurt and intimidate the common citizens are all signs of intolerance and erosion of our personal freedoms”.
Actor and social activist Rahul Bose stated, “ While India can certainly boast of a democracy that holds largely free and fair elections, a judicial system that, in fits and starts, upholds constitutional liberties and a seemingly lively and vocal press, it would be worth examining what democracy has translated into in our everyday lives”. He asked to all. “ How free are you”?
Designer Rina Dhaka said, “ Sixty years of independence, but are we really free? Am I free to do a Hare Rama Hare Krishna T-shirt with a logo of Lord Rama or Krishna to express my creativity? To be honest, I’d be scared. I’m not free, even after years of Indian Independence. A celebration of freedom is incomplete if we live in fear and are not allowed to fulfill our creative pursuits”.