As I type this, it is the hour past midnight and I have just returned from watching the latest craze that is sweeping the cosmopolitan movie-goers of India – “Gangs of Wasseypur -2”. The movie though is not the reason for the post and nor does it feature further in this article I’m typing out. What features though is the words of our first Prime Minister on the day our nation regained its Independence. Note the stress on the word regained, for, before the British East India set foot on our motherland, we were a free conglomeration of states, though not a country per se. But I digress again, history is something I’m not completely fond of, though it was a favorite subject of mine during my school years.
Tryst with Destiny was a speech made by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India. The speech was made to the Indian Constituent Assembly, on the eve of india’s Independence, towards midnight on 14 August 1947.
Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment, we take the pledge of dedication to the service of india and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.
At the dawn of history, India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries are filled with her striving and grandeur of her success and failures. Through good and ill fortune alike, she has never lost sight of that quest, forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today a period of misfortunes and india discovers herself again. The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?
Note the words in the opening two paragraphs of Nehru‘s speech? Not only is it technically incorrect (midnight hour? Where? how can the world be asleep?), it in fact commits only to a substantial step forward and not a full measure. This has been the bane of the country, we always take half-measures, never go full tilt at solving any problem!
When a country becomes independent that does not only mean that the country is free from any foreign oppression or injustice; that also signifies the common citizenry of that country is also free from any injustice, oppression, hardship etc. And what do we mean by Independence? We are no longer slaves to the British empire. But aren’t we still the indirect slaves of the ruling Govt? We are free slaves. Can I freely express my thoughts about anything and everything? Can you ask the government to show you how they use the taxes you pay or how you are being benefited from that? Can you stand up and spit out your anger against the social and political injustice? Above all, what about your collective individual independence?
The only freedom we have is to choose our master. India is independent, Indian‘s aren’t. Until all Indians are free we can’t be truly free.
True freedom brings relief. If you are free from anxieties, discomfort or fear of the other, then you are free.
In about an hour after this post goes up on ManipalBlog, I’ll be attending yet another flag hoisting ceremony and listening to the same speeches such as that made by our President Shri Pranab Mukherjee. We’ll then salute the flag while standing still, some will be looking at the flag with heads held high, some will be fidgeting shifting on their feet, and yet some others will stand with their heads bowed (is it because they are ashamed?).
Some of you will be sleeping through all this, only to wake up somewhere around 11 a.m and crib about another wasted holiday. Yet some more will turn on their television sets and listen to our Prime Minister open his mouth and utter words that have been passed on from one Prime Minister to the next through 66 years, followed the usual dissections of what ails the nation by the media mouth pieces. Some will switch over to Aamir Khan preaching why our country does not have hope on Satyameva Jayate!
Yet the question will remain unanswered. What happened to the famous “tryst with destiny”? Is this it? Are we to live our lives like this? Always looking at our past and yearning for the so called “Sone ki chidiya”, while corruption, regionalism, communalism and the so many other isms eat away the remnants of the carcass of this golden bird that is the idea behind India?
I may have come as an out and out cynic. But to quote our President – “I am an optimist. I always see the glass as half-full”. I have hopes that many of you, who’ve patiently read through this rant of mine, will shed some light on the positive stuff and some will be inspired enough to begin planning another “Tryst with Destiny”, which this time will be of the People of India and not of the ruling elite.
*Tryst: an appointed meeting.