Growing up, the date of 15th August painted vivid images in my mind, encapsulating the essence of freedom in the smallest of gestures and the deepest of convictions.
As a child, this day meant catching a glimpse of my father donning as often as he could, traditional Khadi attire, the soft cotton symbolising India's resistance against colonial rule and its embrace of indigenous craft. Our home would resonate with the fluttering sound of the Indian Tricolour, only of Khadi, being hoisted. Its bold colours represented strength & courage, peace & truth, growth and progress, as they danced gracefully against the open sky. This day held an even more special place in our family as it celebrated two significant milestones — my father's birth in 1927, in the early years of the freedom movement. It was also my parents' wedding anniversary. These personal connections intertwined with India's journey, turning the national celebration into an intimate family affair.
The 15th of August wasn't just about these rituals; it was a beacon of the freedom to learn, to quench our insatiable curiosity, and to believe firmly in our convictions. This freedom to inquire and acquire knowledge, to me, was as pivotal as the political freedom our country achieved. It's this freedom that has sculpted my belief systems and reinforced my values.
Celebrated as the 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav,' India marked 75 years of sovereignty on 15 August 2022. This globally acknowledged event wasn't just a reflection of our past but also paved the way for the vision of 'Amrit Kaal.' A vision where the now most populous nation strides with ambition, pride, and hope, aiming for global ascendancy in its journey from the 76th to the 100th year.
The divine apostle of peace,the Lord Jesus Christ, once proclaimed, “The Truth shall set you free.” It's an adage that resonates profoundly, yet in today's 'Post Truth' world, its implication raises eyebrows. If the essence of freedom is tethered to truth, what does freedom mean in an era dominated by alternative facts and subjective truths?
Recently, in my role as an educator of the Theory of Knowledge and Global Politics, I delved deep into the intertwining realms of politics and knowledge. We explored the 'Knowledge of Politics' and the 'Politics of Knowledge.' The latter poses significant questions about 'Epistemic Injustice.' When narratives are controlled, manipulated, or suppressed, it leads to a form of injustice where certain knowledge or truths are marginalised. The politics surrounding narrative formation, especially in this age of information, can be deemed an epistemic injustice.
In constructing that narrative, I must take a moment to reflect upon the institution that ingrained in me the very essence of freedom. For 34 cherished years, the Indian Navy was my sanctum, allowing me to sail across vast oceans, experiencing the boundless expanse of liberty and deepening my understanding of the world. This institution, in its majestic blue, epitomised not just defence and valour, but also a ceaseless pursuit of knowledge and the freedom that comes with it.
Today, how do we progress to present the right Narrative V.O.I.C.E.? How do we ensure that our voice stands for truth, integrity, and justice? The answers lie in reclaiming the V.O.I.C.E. of our narrative, ensuring it stands for:
Venture into depths to seek truths, even if they challenge our long-held beliefs.
Overcome biases and barriers that stifle voices, especially marginalized ones.
Ignite conversations that matter, fostering dialogue over monologue.
Cultivate an ecosystem that promotes knowledge-sharing, challenging, and learning.
Empower everyone to share their truths, ensuring no narrative is silenced or overshadowed.
It's imperative to hark back to the wisdom of Rabindranath Tagore, who dreamt of a world "Where the mind is without fear." A world where the mind is unshackled, free to think, learn, and express. A world where the truth reigns supreme.
As we celebrate our freedoms, let's not just remember our past but also mould a future where every narrative has a V.O.I.C.E. — a voice that sings the song of truth, justice, and freedom. The journey of India, and each one of us, is not just to remember the freedom we achieved but to continuously strive for the freedom of knowledge, expression, and truth.
Before I close this piece allow me to share an amazing song that I heard just a couple of days back titled "Desh" at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvoq7SL_BXg
Happy Indian Independence Day 2023!