Born Free

The father of our nation recognised the power of violating laws and used it to fight foreign domination. Almost a century later, more than a billion of us, most of whom were born free, are trudging the same path not realising that the Britishers have left and by not obeying the laws of the land we only harm ourselves.
Lets admit it, we are a nation of law breakers. We break them constantly and with impunity. We skip traffic lights and ignore speed limits, we overload goods and overcrowd passengers. Seat belts and helmets cramp our style. We drive as we please, stop when we want and turn when we have to and we pay heavily for this……sometimes with our lives

We ignore guidelines and evade taxes, we cheat on duties and surcharges, we undervalue and oversell, we sweet talk our way through pollution control, barge through check posts and trick our way through speed traps. We hate to be frisked and searched, questioned and probed……and we pay heavily for this……sometimes with our lives

We ace exams without appearing, procure false degrees and documents, we get life insurance without health checks and licenses without driving tests……..and we pay heavily for this…….. sometimes with our lives.

We drop names and flaunt connections,”Jaanta nahin mein kaun hoon ?” is a phrase we use shamelessly for petty gains. We bribe and berate, bully and beseech to get our way. We jump queues and skip procedure, we litter, spit and urinate, deface and defecate.. ….and we pay heavily for this….not with our lives….but we do pay.

It may appear that we have drifted towards lawlessness, but actually we have merely exposed our true self. Independence has given us the freedom to do as we please, and so we have dropped the garbs of civility and stand naked for all to see. Sociologists and historians blame it on centuries of repression. Most Indians lead lives of quiet desperation and walk around like tightly wound springs ready to unravel.

Our best behaviour is reserved for our foreign jaunts. On alien soil we patiently drive in lanes, follow procedure, clean up after ourselves and queue up for everything. Stripped of the clout we carry in our own land and scared of the consequences of unruly behaviour, we become law abiding citizens. Even in our own country, the discipline and humility with which disciples conduct themselves in sacred spaces shows that we are capable of discipline.

The problem is we lack character which is a result of consciousness. We have yet to learn the essence of virtuous living which is an end unto itself and is followed because it feels right, not out of fear or greed. Till then this waywardness has to be tamed by society and law. Sadly, the politician, police, paisa nexus helps the high and mighty escape unscathed, reducing the judiciary to a mockery.

We are not bad people, we are just misguided. We see the privileges enjoyed by our leaders and want to join in. We love to appear well connected and do what others can’t. Such is our misplaced notion of ‘ respect’ that if a person breaks a rule for us we feel honoured. To change this mindset we need true leaders. Consider this, a Minister submitting himself for a frisk, a pilot car stopping at a toll booth to pay for the chief minister’s motorcade, a party ‘heavy weight’ patiently waiting in line. Imagine the effect on the public psyche when they see that no one is above the law.

Lastly, a great nation can not be built without citizens of sound character and the training has to start at home. In a country which gave the world the philosophy of ‘ Nishkam Karma’ we teach our children to focus on the end no matter what be the means. As we dutifully shuttle our children from one coaching class to the next there is no time for character building. It is not surprising that these children become adults who have little sense of right and wrong.

Gandhi ji had advised us to be the change we wanted to see. So, finally, the onus is on us. Bapuji never doubted the ‘power of a small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission to alter the course of history’ and as his children neither should we.

( carried in the Hindustan Times on 25/11/2016)

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14 thoughts on “Born Free

  1. Mitra says:

    One of your best …
    Echoes our feelings …from first to last written word..

    I could cry myself hoarse …shouting this to every body …but I guess that’s not possible

    Change is slow but there …need of the hour..

    Patience in unending queues at ATM S is a ray of hope …

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks mitra i think so too…..yes the orderly queues do somewhat say ….mera desh badal raha hai

  2. Dr Girish Chaitley says:

    Why it took twenty days to be uploaded here.
    A good piece Dr Manju
    God bless you

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Missed it…..found it while googling myself ( yes, I am that vain!). Thanks for appreciating

  3. Jitendra says:

    You cant disagree with that. But to expect that from all in a nation like ours would be unfair because to get there first we need to feed and cloth all the people and then educate them in order to make it a reality. Likewise the idea of cashless india is a dream one but what to do with that idea with a 70 year old woman selling अमरुद at roadside for a living. Timing of implementing even the most brilliant of ideas has to be good else in a large nation with huge population anything can turn into a chaos in no time. Would have liked to see the ways to effect the desired change. Anyways pl accept my congratulations for the good piece .

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks for writing in Jitendra. A beginning has to be made and i think a good place to start would be ourselves. For a change to happen we hace to accept that we are a part of the rot.

  4. Manish Lashkare says:

    Ironic but bitter truth. No excuses though but the conditioning of our minds is such that we repeatedly commit such punitive acts.
    Very valid issue you have raised and l sincerely believe that things can be changed for better just by modifying our attitudes towards betterment of our nation….

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      I think so too Manish. Thanks for your input

  5. Dr R P Gupta says:

    Very good. We are all guilty of committing such mistakes in life to gain advantage over others.

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      Thanks dad….your appreciation means the most

  6. Anupama Belsare says:

    Very thought provoking. Sometimes i feel that we have been governed with an iron hand for so long that we have forgotten what it means to appreciate freedom in its true sense. We don’t use, we abuse our freedom.
    The change has to come from within if we really want our ‘ sone ki chidia’

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      I concur Anupama ….the average Indian has been repressed for so long…first by aliens and then by their own elected representatives that …they go berserk when free….thanks for sparing the time to comment

  7. Dr Asha S says:

    Hum sab Gandhiji ke sirf ek gunn bhi ‘imbibe’ karr sakthe hai tho woh bohut bada change iss duniya mein laa saktha hai.

    Cleaning our washroom by ourself brings a great relief rather waiting for a servant to do it….

    1. Manju Gupta says:

      You do have a point there asha….cleaning your own s#%^ is a humbling experience…..literally and metaphorically!
      I also feel that weaving your own clothes has much more than symbolic value…but doesn’t self reliance boost ones ego?

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