By: Krunal Patel
We all know that the first amendment of the US constitution says that all citizens have the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. The Indian Constitution offers the same. However, before the two nations gained independence, these freedoms were not guaranteed. As most of us have learned in history class, the British empire controlled the thirteen colonies in America. It wasn’t until 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed and after the sacrifice of hundreds in the Revolutionary War, that Americans were free, and gained true independence.
Similarly, after the East British India Company started in India, slowly the British Raj, or the rule under the British crown happened. Under the British Raj, Indians did not have the basic freedoms like the freedom of worship. One such incident includes the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, in which nonviolent protestors and Sikh pilgrims were gathered to celebrate Baisakhi. Hundreds were killed and wounded by the British Indian Army troops.
Also, in 1857, gunpowder cartridges with cartridges greased in cow and pig fat were used and Hindu and Muslim Indian sepoys were forced to use them since it insulted both Hindu and Muslim religious practices. This incident and other such inequalities, and mistreatment led to the independence movement. Leaders of this movement include Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Subhash Chandra Bose, and Bhagat Singh. All of these leaders for the most part, were nonviolent and used tactics, such as satyagrahas, or civil disobedience. Along with marches like the Dandi Salt March, and protest fasts to gain independence. The freedom fighters sacrificed everything, many even sacrificed their lives. At last, on August 15th, 1947, India gained its independence after nearly 300 years of oppression.
Along with a nation’s independence, its citizens get freedom. They get the freedom to worship, express ideas, challenge leaders, and work together for their own nation. With freedom also comes responsibility. It is the citizen’s’ responsibility to respect the freedom, and appreciate the efforts of the freedom fighters. So how can we do this? We can do this by being a responsible citizen through actions like voting, paying taxes, and actively participating in the government because after all, that is what the freedom fighters fought for.
Similar to how a nation gains independence, all individuals also gain individual independence. We don’t have to fight, protest, or go on hunger strikes and make sacrifices to gain independence. We simply grow up, become adults, and with maturity gain independence. Like most people, some of you might be going off to college and becoming independent for the first time. There are no parents to tell you what to do go – to sleep early, wake up early, or do chores. You get to choose your own classes and when you want to go to class. You get to decide if you are going to go to a party on a Thursday night or not. You get the freedom and choice because you are independent. We also have responsibilities when we become independent, similar to the responsibilities citizens have after a nation gains its independence.It becomes our responsibility to go to class on time or to not go out the night before our exam. It also becomes our responsibility to stay connected to our faith, culture, and traditions whether it be joining a cultural organization at your college, going to mandir whenever you can, doing upasana or even doing a mara.
Being independent might seem all fun and games but we should not forget about the consequences of our choices and actions. Responsibility is key to being independent. When we become independent, we must be ready to embrace responsibilities.