By Karishma Maheshwari, SY BA LLB Div. C
Living amid the gush of social media posts like “are we truly free?” highlighting all that is wrong with the nation, we often tend to ignore all that the nation has given us. Free speech, which itself gives us the freedom of being critical of our country without the fear of reprisal from the State, is often tagged as a bare-minimum entitlement to a human being. That being said, one must be cognizant of the reality- which is that the “normal” and “bare-minimums” are not so common, especially not so much that they can be taken for granted. While India celebrates its 75th year of Independence, its very neighbour, Afghanistan, has been perpetually stuck in conflict and is currently experiencing a cataclysmic crisis with no room for protection of human rights, life or liberty. Not only Afghanistan but also dozens of other nations are constantly required to choose between survival and liberty. Hence, it is essential to acknowledge the importance of being free and part of an independent sovereign nation.
Perusing the history of India becoming a nation, it can be observed that the nation has not been built by a select few but by the involvement of society at all points in time. India has lived as a civilisation since time immemorial and its people have held a distinct identity, though a constantly diversifying one. The expanse of India’s diversity has always been increasing, with invasions and immigrations. Nevertheless, India never failed to maintain and flourish with a common social identity. This common identity means that the people have maintained a similar set of values and customs, coexisting with a diverse set of ideologies, religions, and communities. The very existence of such a collective identity arouses a feeling of brotherhood and oneness among this diverse set of citizens, making India the epitome of a closely united civilisation.
What would people give to their country? Why would they want to contribute towards the making and prosperity of this civilisation? Answers to these two pertinent questions would reveal the reason behind the persistently thriving community that India has collectively been. For the purpose of this article, the author has recorded the responses of a few Indians in the similar line of these two questions.
A 22-year-old Overseas Citizen of India (student), having the experience of living in two countries, has observed how India is more than just a regular country of citizens. She asserted that the culture of love and compassion in strangers towards each other is a beautifully unique trait of Indian society. Having travelled across many countries, she has observed this trait consistently in the Indian diaspora. She believes that she owes India the identity and background that it has given her. She proudly carries with herself her Indian identity in the foreign country in which she resides. She also aims to work for India and establish her profession here after her educational period is over.
A 29-year-old professional (businessman & exporter) replied that India as a country has given him a sense of belonging, with a known history and cultural heritage that he can flaunt. It is the people of this country, the behaviour of its people as a whole, that is truly unique to India. In return for all that the nation has given him, he, as a businessman, aims to generate employment in the country so that one Independence Day, his country is ‘free’ from the tyranny of poverty. He also aims to infuse foreign currency in the country simultaneously, to give the country the required growth in GDP and contribute to its economy. He finally affirms that “the country has given us so much in the form of natural resources, history, security, etc. It deserves everything in return.”
Another professional, aged 24-years (a social entrepreneur), feels that she, as a citizen, owes a responsibility as much as the government does, to ‘give’ and ‘provide’ to this country. She says that “(India) is like a mother to the people of the country, it has nurtured us and given us an identity, which is almost like a reason to live”. She, as a professional, contributes to the nation to bring “equity, equality and a strong rural economy” through her occupation.
Another 37-year-old CEO of a tech company believes that they owe a lot to this nation and wants to give back as much as they can. They say that “I would give India a future by being a contributor to the economy as a businessperson. I want to do so because my country has given me all the resources to be where I am today”.
A 56-year-old (Advocate and father) believes that we, as Indians, must educate our children towards becoming disciplined citizens who would know and respect the diversity that India, as a country, has been able to maintain. He believes that he owes much to “his motherland” as well as the compassionate people it has nurtured and that he would not let his younger generations take any of it for granted.
Lastly, an 89-year-old (ex-Chartered Accountant and Grandfather) has emotionally given his message to the country’s youth by saying that there is “nothing greater than being part of a nation that India is, nothing greater than the fact that we enjoy the freedom that we successfully fought for and won.” He asserted that the freedom India’s youth has been enjoying must never be underestimated. He reminisces the year when India got its Independence and the celebrations that followed even months after the August of 1947. He encourages the Indian youth to “proudly celebrate Azadi”, and urges them to always work in the interest of the nation, and keep self-interest as a secondary priority.
Finally, although the responses are taken from a very small group of people, the motive was not to interview the diversity, but to get the general idea of how different people perceive the idea of ‘owing’ anything to their country. Having observed different versions of how and what Indians think they owe to their nation, it can be concluded that feelings of gratitude and being nurtured by the nation have consistently popped up in all the responses. While we owe India our history and our present identity, we must also preserve this collective civilisation and show regard to the freedom fighters and others who have sacrificed their lives to make India how it stands today. India is a country where diversity is not merely coexisting but also collectively thriving and subsequently growing. So, as a longstanding and ever-expanding civilisation, We, the Indians owe to our ancestors and one another the fulfilment of a promise to keep growing together.