Before the British came, the Subcontinent was ruled by a number of families, each with their own kingdom. The rulers had absolute powers, were above the law and were not answerable to anyone. When they died, someone from the family replaced them and the story continued. Were Indians free then?
After the British left, the Subcontinent is still ruled by a small number of families, with their own domains. The new rulers have absolute powers; they are above the law and are not answerable to anyone, for the 5 years they are in power. When they die, someone from the family replaces them and the story continues. Are Indians free now?
Was the Indian freedom struggle waged solely to replace the set of rulers or was it to give its people freedom from oppression, freedom from misrule, freedom from exploitation, be it foreign or domestic?
Sharing this royalty with the politicians is the bureaucracy. From the pan chewing Chaprasi to the Sahib’s driver and sometimes to the Sahibs themselves; the feeling of being “rulers of India” is all-pervading.
The reason why “royal” political families thrive is because of the system of governance and politics in this country. The Westminster System of Governance may have served the relatively educated United Kingdom well, but has resulted in creation of these elite rulers in India. Power and money gives rise to more power and money. Politicians loathe giving up either and do not hesitate to misuse regional or religious feelings to preserve their hold on them, even if it harms the country. The only way to counter this is to ensure every citizen has the potential of holding the reigns of power directly in his hands and politics is not the preserve of a few.
We can only be truly free when all citizens are equal, have equal dignity of life and an equal opportunity to govern the country. As long as the power is in the hands of a select few, we will continue to be exploited and misruled.
Our forefathers liberated our country from foreign rulers, but true freedom still eludes Indians.
Happy Independence Day!
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