The meaning of health one shall realize when confined to a wheel chair, value of peace when wounded in a battle field, or significance of freedom when thrown into a prison. It is said poison is sweeter in freedom than honey in slavery. After centuries under the British rule only 67 years back we achieved freedom thanks to the untiring efforts by millions of our countrymen led by Mahatma Gandhi.
The younger people born after independence shall not perhaps realize what difficulty the people of the subcontinent faced under the British rule. India had no identity as a nation; the Union Jack, the British flag, occupied the Indian sky. There were many attempts, often very disjointed, to voice against the foreign rule. One was in 1857. However, the fire of 1857 independence struggle was easily doused by the British, since we did not possess superior weapons to fight.
With this backdrop Mahatma Gandhi adopted a new strategy that the British lacked: peaceful struggle, a war without weapons. The peace loving Indians rallied around Gandhi and the British had no match. For example, the Dandi March or Salt Movement (Lavan Satyagraha) seemingly a harmless March brought the Indians together. British did not realize that unity was the invincible weapon. Boycotting foreign goods broke the backbone of the British industry, specially the textile industry. Step by step Gandhi took the whole country into confidence and the British was isolated.
Younger men and women were deeply impressed by the sacrifices of many, the tallest among them being Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Son of a very rich man, this young man from Cuttack, travelled in a truck carrying coal from Calcutta to Peshawar to escape the prison to establish Indian National Army (INA)or the Azad Hind Fauz to fight against the British.
Khan Abdul Gafar Khan in earstwhile North West Frontier Province kept the spirit of freedom burning to unsettle the British. The British appeared to be caught in quagmire and found it difficult to come out of it. It may be noted that during the freedom movement India made rapid progress in many fields of human activities, may it be arts, literature, science, education, teaching and even in sports! Those were great days, a period of renaissance.
Today our people are obsessed with minor things like price of onion, price rise in certain household articles forgetting the national issues among the comity of the nations. Corruption at high places, specially among the politico-law makers, has weakened our national fabric. Natioal leaders like Gandhi, Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Netaji, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Rajagopalachary and others had set their eyes on higher values.
India is an ocean of resources and if it gears up and rises to the occasion we shall have no parallel and our economy will be second to none. We simply need honest governance, and the rest will be done by the people. In this connection it is worth recollecting the words of former US President John Kennedy, ‘Ask not what the country has done for you, ask what you have done for the country.’ True, all our actions should be for the good of the country. Let it be picking up even a plastic bag or closing a leaky tap on the street or laying railway lines or constructing power grid, carrying out high-tech research or teaching or a bypass surgery. Let us do everything honestly.
Today we are celebrating our 67th Independence Day. Let us be proud for it, and let us work towards making our country feel proud of us. Let us greet each other on this day, and take a vow to build a strong nation.