All of us are born free. We have our own concept of freedom. This concept evolves as we grow in life. I am lucky to be born in the world’s largest democracy – India. I am proud to be an Indian and have enjoyed this freedom throughout my lifetime. My concept of freedom is the ability to choose and do anything of my choice without any restrictions. The Constitution of India bestows fundamental rights, which are absolute. We do have reasonable restrictions, which possibly are required to ensure that we do not do anything against the interest of the state.
Let me try to illustrate what freedom means to me and how my beloved country has enabled it to flourish. I have the freedom to be myself. I can choose my education, my religion, my place of stay and my way of living. I can move across the country without any restrictions and express my opinion on any subject without any fear.
In my view, we need to go much beyond this and practise freedom in our daily lives. Let us start with our family. Do we give equal opportunities for our children – daughter or son. They should be able to choose what they want to study and what they want to do in life. We should not preach freedom of expression around the world and restrict freedom within our own family precincts.
Let us move to the work place. Do we empower our teams ? Do my team members practise what their passion is ? Can they independently give their views on any subject without fear of consequences. Are they able to listen to their heart and decide independently what is in the best interest of the organisation.
The same is true for society. All of us have the freedom to participate and express ourselves on any subject. We can agree or disagree with the views of the government. We can influence the way the governments decides through our elected representatives and media(including social media). The media is independent and can play a very important role in influencing public opinion. One important thing to remember is that we should never cross the line. We have a duty along with the freedom, which we enjoy. Sometimes as individuals and even as media we tend to misuse this freedom. In my view as citizens we have a duty to ensure that neither individuals nor institutions misuse this freedom. Just as we have the choice to elect or reject a elected representative to the state or the centre, we have the duty to ignore and castigate individuals or organisations, which work against the interest of the state.
Today I am proud to be an Indian. I am grateful to this great nation for giving me this “Joy of freedom”. India may not be the most developed nation in term of physical wealth but it is one of the most developed in terms of emotional and spiritual well being. We need to respect it, preserve it and nurture it so that our future generations are gifted with a happier nation than we have inherited.
One of my German colleagues shared a quote, which said – “In everything in life, we need to start with enthuisiasm and end with discipline”. There cannot be a better way to celebrate India’s freedom. Let us create more enthuisiasm in everything we do but let us not forget the discipline, which has to go with enthuisiasm to make India the greatest and happiest nation in the world.
S Ramesh Shankar