The Misinterpretation & Misuse of Freedom in India: Civil Services Mentor Magazine February 2013


India has enjoyed freedom over the last sixty four years, but has it actually savored it. It has come a long way since 1947. Political, judicial and administrative systems have all undergone drastic transformations. However, the only difference is that these transformations were more of a step forward and two backwards, making the progress complicated. If good things happened, they came at some price and so did freedom. Freedom meant a sense of responsibility, which unfortunately could not be displayed by its inhabitants. Hence, the country gave us everything, but in return asked for its price. The country gave freedom to its citizens and constantly reminded them of the price associated with it.

Freedom can be summarized as, “the Sequence of Setting Free of Multiple Domains into Motion”. Freedom means to excel and move on. But, unfortunately freedom is one of the most misinterpreted, misunderstood and misused word in English language. Freedom in most of the cases is interpreted or compared with irregularities in lifestyle. People think freedom means “Free from All”, that is, free from work, culture, tradition, nationality and in some instances enlightenment and total liberation from life. Above all what they never think of is that, freedom is nothing but ultimate responsibility in life.

In some instances in Indian society, people often misinterpret freedom as women equality. Some also raise their voice stating that women are being treated as donkeys, working both at office as well as home. But, they often tend to forget that Indian society has provided not equal, but higher rights to women than men. If one digs into the details, you can find that the responsibility of building a strong family and bond between its members have been placed on women’s shoulders, which is a stepping stone towards building a strong society and nation.

Women have given this responsibility because, they are more emotionally connected than men and their heart rules over the mind which is an essential ingredient to build a lovely family and society. For example, Mother Teresa was able work for the ailment for poor and diseased and thus with respect and love people called her Mother. There are many men who worked for ailment and betterment of society, for freedom. But, none are associated with the ailment and betterment of the poor and diseased in such a large scale. There is a common thought in India that a girl goes to husband’s house after marriage and servers her in-laws, but men do not have to come across this torture, share the burden or perform daily chores. But, the answer is in the society itself. In some parts of Karnataka state, especially among Tulu speaking community, there is a custom wherein the boy goes to wife’s house and looks after his in-laws. This is popularly known as Aliya Santana. There was also a matrilineal system followed in royal families of ancient Tulu Nadu. Rani Abbakka Devi of Ullala is an example provided by the history of India. She was the direct female heir to the throne of Ullala from where she ruled her kingdom and fought with the Portuguese for four decades. She is also regarded as the first woman freedom fighter of India.

Freedom is neither in misconceptualizing equality nor in fighting for over-freeness to visit pub, bar or in the name of socialization having free sex and corrupting the whole community or society by increasing the number of HIV AIDS infected population. Freedom is in understanding of duty and responsibility. The fundamental rights might be there, but its usage always carries “at your own risk” tag. If right to equality says no to discrimination based on caste, creed, religion and sex, then there are a few states which have gone ahead and ruined the sanctity of this statement. They proudly discriminated people based on native state and language. Hindi, officially our national language is still looked down upon when spoken in a few states. People ranging from common man to ministers are mercilessly beaten by the self-proclaimed local godfathers and their henchmen for either speaking in Hindi or from hailing from a different state.