Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action …
Into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake.
Most of us have read the words above at some point of time in our school. These very thought provoking and simple words, were the vision ofRabindranath Tagore on how a new, free and ‘awakened’ India should be.
However, today, on the 64th Independence day of India – reflecting back on these very words – all i can say, is that we have completely failed to achieve Tagores dream of free India. India, in these 64 years, has turned into a country with lots of vision – but no action to support it – and whatever action actually manages to take place – is only for motives of filling up pockets of the people who we trust to run the country fairly – and for the benefit of the common man.
This post is not because i think things might be or are better in another country – this post is not for a purpose of comparison, (considering i live abroad, some people might think so) – nor do i have anything against my country. I am the quintessential patriotic Hindustani, who till date stands up everytime the National Anthem is played. Anywhere. And probably because of this love for my country – i get upset when i see it in the state that it is.
‘Where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high’
Is it? everyone i know lives in fear in this country. Its either fear of death due to terrorism, or fear of failure, fear of electricity not being there, fear of water shortage, fear of prices going up, etc. etc. Fear these days is inherent in everything a common Indian does, says or believes in. The head might be held high. But thats probably just our ego. We still have the vision of being the greatest country – and we hold our heads high just on the basis of the ‘visions’. But there is no harm in sometimes lowering the head – and looking at the path that we are actually walking – whether the visions are actually being achieved or not.
‘Where knowledge is free, where the world has not been broken up into fragments…’
Would be great if I had any specifics of what kind of knowledge Tagore was talking of over here – but if we are talking about proper quality education – it certainly is not free. And, talking about the fragments – unfortunately, its the people who run this country who abuse this most. Dividing the country by religion, by caste, by color, by sex and any other possible fragment to drive their vote banks is the norm of the day. It ironic to see that inspite of portraying ourselves as a modern and visionary country, we are still where we were 7 decades ago. Only that now its not the British who are applying ‘Divide and rule’, but the very people who we vote for.
‘Where words come out from the depth of truth’
One look at the news these days. Kalmadi. Commonwealth games. Need i say more?
‘Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection’
Perfection? Unfortunately, we have turned into a nation of ‘chalta hai’ attitude. Where ‘aise hi hota hai’ is the norm of the day. Look at the roads after one rainfall. Look at any national project. Look at the Mumbai seal link project. Look at most airports. Nothing even remotely ‘stretches its arms towards perfection’. We are just used to the potholes. We are used to dirty and disorganised public services. We are just used to things being not alright. We are so much used to it, that we have conditioned ourselves to take it as a way of life. ‘Perfection’ for us is just another term. another ‘vision’. Which we only talk about (‘Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary dessert sand of dead habit’ ) and as said above, are just so habitual of it – that the reasoning has actually lost its way. Completely.
‘Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever widening thought and action’
Thoughts and actions. Both go hand in hand. Without thoughts, there cant be any actions. And after actions, there always has to be a thought to reflect back on the ‘action’. They both go hand in hand – In a circle. And thats the wheel that drives most people and most nations forward. The actions reflect the thoughts, and the thoughts, actions. Unfortunately, in the 64 years of independant India, the wheel breaks down when it comes to acti0ns. There are just too many processes. Too many middlemen, and too many pockets to be filled, for the actions to happen in a timely and efficient matter. CWG is prime example these days. Great thought – ‘lets bring the CW games to India’ – but actions? with 49 days left, most venues are not even near completion. Reason? read above.
‘Into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake’
I guess we still have a long way to go before we actually reach the ‘heaven of freedom’ that Tagore saw for us. We have been sleeping too long i guess – still dancing about how we threw the British out. On how great our freedom fighters were. On how great our country is. On Nehru. On Gandhi. I think its now time to truly wake up. Grow out of that pseudo-ego-sheath that we have been wearing for the last 64 years. Its time that we saw where the world has actually reached – and not on how global we have become. Its time we moved on from our past – and learn – and put that learning into action.
There are countries which were founded much later than independent India, and have reached far ahead than what we are. I can say that, because i live in one. Yes, we have a bigger population. Yes, we are a larger country. Yes, we have more problems. But those are mere excuses. Problems exist – to be solved. Not to be used as excuses. Just look at one of out neighbors. Same problems. But in the last decade has become an economic superpower, from nothing. We have the resources – we just need to put them to use.
I have just used Tagore’s words as an analogy. They have a much deeper meaning than what i have represented here. But they also help us show where all we went wrong. And thats why i used them. No, i do not hate my country. I am a proud Indian. And will always remain so. But i think its high time the country and the people who run it, wake up – and realise, this is not what the people who gave us this freedom had dreamt of as a future for this country.