The other day, Mr. Narendra Modi took the vows to become the Prime Minister. Many of the Indian citizens, whether presently in India or staying abroad, whether voted or could not vote for some reason, rejoiced the moment. There were messages and statuses flying around and hopes of India rising up under the watchful eye of Mr. Modi was speculated. Everyone rejoiced on watching their choice of candidate being selected in the Prime Ministorial Post. As for me, I rejoiced the freedom of choice we are given. And as usual that got me thinking.
Thoughts have a tendency to relate to a lot of topics and interlink a lot of incidents together to create a unique image. The Lok Sabha Elections drew me to the topic of freedom… freedom to choose, freedom to decide, freedom to act, freedom to enact, freedom to think, freedom to select, freedom to reject… any and all kinds of freedom that should ideally be available to a common human being.
Yes, India is a democratic country. We have all kinds of freedom on paper. Freedom of speech, freedom of living, freedom of articulation, freedom for anything and everything – on paper. How much of it is actually put into use? That is a topic which is merely discussed on a far wider scale than acted upon.
The gender difference and gender discrimination is still so much prevalent even in the 21st century where urban women proudly declare their status as independent, working women. The rural women are still suppressed, oppressed, depressed, repressed and every other “-ppressed” word you can think of. For that matter, how far are urban women too, truly liberated from the atrocities? There is still no security to walk on the roads alone. There is glass ceilings and sexual harassment at work place and every other place outside. Even at home, child abuse, domestic abuse happens behind closed doors.
But there is one change in this and it is pro gender discrimination. Earlier, it could honestly have been said that only women face such discrimination. Today men face the same discrimination at the same levels. Today, even for men, there is glass ceilings at certain areas of interest, domestic abuse happens to men too and child abuse seems to happen more to boys than girls. So today, there is no gender discrimination in it. Both men and women are equally subjected to these things.
Then there is freedom of choice. How far are we actually free to choose? Theoretically, the freedom of choice of a human being starts from the time they develop the sense to identify things they like from the rest of the world. As children, maybe the right is not so much given, and that would ideally be right. But post basic school education, the children should be allowed to at least follow their own dreams. The other day, after SSC results were declared, a few women were overheard discussing their children’s choices of education. The kids wanted to go for non tradition education like fashion designing, hotel management, social service, modelling etc. And the parents were worried. “Why can’t they select Science and become Doctors or Engineers, like normal people?” Why should people be forced to take up a field of study just because it is the “conventional” way? With the developments that is happening around us, we are still sitting with our traditional mind set and way of thinking. People are still afraid to take risks and open up about who they really are as compared to what the society wants them to be.
That brings me to the LGBT Group, and here is the freedom of living openly oppressed. Ideally what happens between closed doors (as long as it is not harming another human being) should be no body’s business. But that is not the case. Society has created such a huge taboo on these people that they are being forced to stop being who they are for the want of being accepted in the society. So that puts the freedom to live, right out the window.
Now coming to a very interesting freedom, that is freedom to speak or express. It is interesting because right since childhood, I used to shoot out anything under the roof of this freedom. “India is a democratic country. I have the freedom to express whatever I want” used to be my war cry. And then some girls from Mumbai were arrested for a status on a social media site against some politicians and it shut my mouth. Wow! You post what you wanted to share with your friends and you get arrested for that? She is a common citizen just like you and me. If that happened to her, what is stopping it from happening to you or me? And if we are supposed to measure our words and feelings before expressing it to the society, where did the freedom to express vanish suddenly? Or was it there at all?
There are so many “looking down upon” happening in the society on so many matters. I was just reading the following article on womensweb.com
It speaks about a well educated woman who wants to be a home maker. But the society looks down upon her and says she is wasting her education and being dependent. But that is what she wants. Is her wish to live her life by her choice of no importance? Consider a role reversal. A man wants to be home and take care of the kids, letting his wife to work and provide for the family. He likes to be around his kids and cook for them. They are his kids, his family. Can he or they not make a decision for themselves about their family? Why should it matter to anyone else? But that is an ideal situation and in school science, I have learnt that ideal situations never happen. Now I realize it is the same for every day life too.
Children being asked to follow a particular education or a particular way of life because the parents want them to, is a very common phenomenon everywhere. The restrictions on marriage is a common topic at every house hold, sometimes on valid points but most of the times, otherwise. Girls having more restrictions than boys, men entrusted with more responsibilities than they can handle, and many many such points make you think – does freedom really exist?
This is not only about India as a country. It is about the entire humanity. Over the years, there are certain rules laid down or certain ideologies which later gets converted into traditions, which are getting embedded into the society. People are afraid to take risks and move out of the comfort zone, for themselves and for their loved ones. It is becoming like the huge elephant tied with a tiny rope. The story is as follows:
When the elephant was tiny, it was tied with a small rope. Since the elephant did not have enough energy, no matter how much it pulled against the rope, it could not get away. Gradually the elephant grew but the mentality remained and so did the size of the rope. Today, the elephant is fully grown but it still feels it cannot escape from the clutches of the tiny rope tied to its leg.
That is how we have become. We are so accustomed to the rules of the society that we feel we will not be able to survive without them. But if we were to experiment, who knows what changes we can bring about!
Be the change you want to see around you!