I momentarily pause my brisk steps and bow silently when my eyes behold the Indian Tricolour flying high atop the Indian Institute of Advanced Study which once upon the time used to be the Viceregal Lodge—the symbol of British power in India. My head bows to the sacrifice of innumerable people who laid down their life so that we could live in a free country. The names of the big ones who steered the struggle for freedom would flood any mind and we repay our gratitude to them by celebrating their sacrifices. But do we ever try to find out or even think about the lesser known—even unknown ordinary and humble people who, too, sacrificed their life so that we could live in a free country.
This leads me to another question that has started haunting me recently: are we really free of the mental slavery that we show towards our masters? The names may have changed, the class and colour may have changed but the creed of the masters has not changed and neither is our slavish attitude towards them. This troubling thought became very clear when I met a few, so called intellectuals, of the country. They are labelled intellectuals as they teach in an Institute of national importance. “We are so afraid of the system” one of them said. Another one cooed, “I am but an ordinary person with no political connection.” “The system is in the hands of the ‘power that be’”, etc. etc. Here the word “system” is a synonym for the “master”. The country may be free but the relation between the master and the servant is still the same when the “servants” show clearly their slavish mentality by tolerating every practice or rather malpractice of the “master” as they are afraid of what the master may do to them.
I no longer am interested in the lame excuses they put to justify their action or inaction but I do feel bad when I look at the Tricolour flying high and reminding me of the sacrifices made by ordinary people so that “we” could live in a nation where the head is held high and the mind is without fear. I wish my friends ask themselves this question and answer it to their ownself, honestly—very honestly.