India needs to awaken

At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom,” said Jawaharlal Nehru at midnight on August 14, 1947, as the just-turned Independent India heralded freedom from years of colonial rule and oppression. 

Today, 67 years later, India remembers with pride and joy the spirit of our forefathers that brought us independence. With Mahatma Gandhi to spearhead the cause of freedom, Indians fought with utmost determination against the mighty British, using earnestly the armoury of ahimsa, satya and swaraj.  

Fast forward and India wakes up every day to violence, strife and dependence. Somewhere down the line we, as a nation, have failed to walk this path of ahimsa-satya-swaraj, which our freedom fighters took in their struggle against the British. We have turned our backs to the very ideologies that removed all roadblocks, cleared the way and fostered our past political leaders in their arduous journey to reach the horizons of freedom. To pick ourselves together and swirl back into the track from the current derailment is something that is both possible and well within the power of every average Indian.

“Be the change you wish to see in this world,” were the famous words of Gandhi, the father of our nation. Adopting and internalising ahimsa, satya and swaraj into our daily living is the golden key that will unlock the door to a better, freer India. For, as Gandhi rightly observed, “Non-violence is not a cloistered virtue to be practised by the individual for his peace and final salvation, but it is a rule of conduct for society.

 To practise non-violence in mundane matters is to know its true value. It is to bring heaven upon earth. I hold it therefore to be wrong to limit the use of non-violence to cave dwellers [hermits] and for acquiring merit for a favoured position in the other world. All virtue ceases to have use if it serves no purpose in every walk of life…satya combined with ahimsa can bring the world to your feet.”

India’s independence was paid by bloodshed, martyred lives, hunger strikes, anxieties, fears and selfless living and dying. To justify such a high price, the current and future generations need to wake up from the slumber of sloth and indifference and join Rabindranath Tagore in his prayer: 

“Where the mind is without fear and the head held high…Where words come out from the depth of truth… Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit; Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening thought and action; Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”

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