More than 60 years after we gained our collective freedom, we are still not free as individuals to paint, to write, to film, to imagine the world as we feel moved to. What, then was the point of struggling to create a free society ?
Independence Day is here again ! The day of the year when almost everyone citizen of the country is overcome with pride and dignity, of love for his country, the nation etc. etc. It is also the day when Times of India comes out with its most torturous cover page of the year, filled with all rosy and greeny stuff, fast comments, wonderful lines, pics of Nehru and Gandhi and possibly a young high flying Indian living the Indian dream. Though the independence day is all this nonsensical stuff, it does provide one a rare opportunity to sit back and reflect on ourselves, our society, our culture. The society we inhabit, is it the same one for which we fought so fiercely ?
The tone of the last paragraph might augur you to my negative viewpoint. Well I can’t be blamed for it. Things are what they are, I just write them out. So, What is Freedom ? Me and Vikas both being inclined towards Orwell would say- ” Freedom is the freedom to assert that 2+2=4. Freedom is also the power to say that 2+2=5.” The question is whether do we have this kind of freedom in our society? It appears so on the surface but one step deeper all is immersed in a foul smelling cesspool.
Last week or so I was standing with a few friends in SDA Market opposite the IIT campus, waiting for the pizza we had ordered. Just opposite us a couple was sitting drinking beer in public. A big burly policeman came from the opposite side shouting abuses at the girl- she being a disreputable girl, a prostitute, a ………… because she was having beer in public. To be sure the guy was subjected to much swearing too, but of a different kind- he was a pathetic bastard because he was making a girl consume beer in public. I am not in favour of public drinking but this is absolutely pathetic. What right does a police man have to condemn the girl? if at all he is the disreputable one. Men drinking is absolutely fine but somehow women getting drunk is some kinda degradation of society. And this isnt just confined to drinking.
I am wondering what would happen to me if I am caught kissing a girl in campus. Ofcourse the fact that the place wont be public and the girl wishes to be kissed is irrelevant. Still I would be subjected to all forms of condemnations, humiliations, 10 people will look at the girl as if she were a prostitute and kissing a guy is a crime equivalent or much worse than murder. This is not bad in itself, for some societies are conservative and do not approve of this.However that’s not the case for us .We don’t condemn all this stuff due to our beliefs but rather Hypocrisy. People will condemn, castrate just because they wish to be seen as protectors of society. As far as i am concerned the opposition of our population toward fashion shows and other such “displays” is not because we dislike them but precisely because we like them. We are a society thrust into the modern world, into a culture we dont understand but are forced to embrace. Everyday we pretend that we are modern people embracing the modern culture; all the while feeling uncomfortable inside.
In Orwell’s fictional world control is manifested by constant supervision and brute force. Ours is a much more subtle form of mutism- conscience driven dystopia. I wont quite say that we are a dystopic society, the fact that I am writing all this nullifies that. But we are steadily inclining towards one. We practice a sort of conscious control, being afraid of hurting larger sentiments. Our film makers dont venture anymore into the territory of adulthood and have their confirming, auto-censor motors. Karan Johar had to apologize to a disgusting apparition like Raj Thackrey becasue his film was praised in Pakistan or something like that. M.F. Hussain was forced to flee the country as his art was not in accordance with fundamentalist Hindutva notions. Consenting puppets.
So where do we go from here ? Is there any hope for us ? perhaps there is some humanity out there left in us and we have not been converted into machines intent on outpacing eachother. Let’s hope not.