Frailty – thy name is Freedom

SAMHITA BAROOAH

Freedom is valued as the highest ideal in human existence. Everyone in the struggle of life is actually striving towards freedom. If we are bound by any force we long for freedom. But gradually such freedom is becoming frail. In a battle to emerge as powerful, resourceful and capable somehow we are creating frail situations which curbs freedom. In today’s era, who is actually free to function at will? We are constantly challenged by the neo-liberal economy which consumes us as objects of production, reproduction and association. We have turned into guinea pigs of social analysis for market trends, customer satisfaction, product diversification and policy formulation. In the context of India freedom from colonial dominion was realised some seven decades back to be colonised into a constricted, monitored and militarised national space.

Such freedom has become frail with its chauvinistic craze for homogeneity, majority vote-sharing and socially accepted arm-twisting which is encouraging an exclusivity of economic relationship alone. We are these days bound by contracts, legal bindings and constitutional sanctions which limit our freedom of access, mobility and interpretation in a complex construct. Our social and cultural demarcation is such that freedom seems a mythical mirage. We are all engaged within the assertion of our own egoistic identities which thrives with the idea of freedom. Hence there is also a growing friction of deviance and assimilation when we understand freedom as a nationalist goal.

India’s freedom from colonialism was meant to mark the beginning of freedom from dehumanising marginalisation through the relative intersections of race, ethnicity, caste, religion, gender, age, ability and class. But decades after the ceremonial independence we are witnessing a stifled bondage of discrimination which engulfs our freedom. There seems to be a customised interpretation of politics which suits the value of freedom within and outside the territorial boundaries which gives us a sense of collective identity as an Indian.

The frailty attached to freedom is contextual when there is gross inequality which jeopardises the dalit, tribal, gender fluid, non-religious and self-assertive regional identities. Somehow such diversity of identities does not find equal space within the sankritised, elitist, patriarchal, hetero-normative, nationalistic identity of free India. Hence freedom achieved in India is still frail and fragmented within the post-colonial imposition of power, influence, penny and lineage. Political affiliation to an alternative agenda which can deconstruct the above inequalities is a far cry. Alongside de-politicisation of people’s agendas have also become an economic goal for the emerging corporate India in the pretext of social responsibilities.

Another threat of this frail freedom is the constant aspiration to belong to an assured class which can resolve every physical, emotional, intellectual, psychological and sexual dilemma in economic terms. If money could save people, resolve conflicts, stop rapes, protect children, restore wildlife, replenish natural resources, cure terminally ill, ensure dignity, include the excluded then the freedom we have attained is worth celebrating. Otherwise such freedom still has a million milestones to transcend. Our policies, legislations and legal frameworks are flawless to a given context but such instruments do not get translated to realistic actions. In that realm people are bereft of the benefits of upholding the pronounced identities of freedom in the post colonial context.

In this age of globalisation and privatisation, India’s freedom is realised through the commercial assertion of the market economy. August 15th, has become another reason for sale announcements and lucrative offers to entice the middle class in projecting a spirit of freedom and belongingness. People are gradually drawn into such market craze in order to belong to a particular social class. Globalised freedom is another space where the country is stepping in with the neo-liberal economic policies. Earlier Indians were skilled workers globally which earned them the laurels of being NRIs or Non-Resident Indians now the policies are such that Indians are becoming contract based skilled workers locally but getting remunerated through global firms.

Such shifts could be advantageous superficially as it seems that the world is knocking at the country’s door but in reality is the freedom of this historic nation getting entwined within the trade bindings, business deals and contract labour agreements. The nation is creating, building, reviving, regenerating only to cater to the needs of the global markets while the domestic market is constantly bombarded with sub-standard consumption items in every sector of the market. The craze for cheap, durable and portable products have led to technological innovation, manufacturing up-scaling, taxation practices and communication channels which feeds the ever hungry supply chain in a open market economy.

The country’s transition from being suppliers of natural resources, minerals, cheap labour, spices and herbal medicines from pre-independence era has moved towards international branding of such products and services in the post-independent era. This transition has left some people more vulnerable for their basic survival needs and devastated enormous amount of natural resources all in the name of bargaining for a fanatic freedom in our current context. Thus ‘frailty, thy name is freedom’.

Samhita Barooah

Samhita Barooah

Samhita Barooah is a Researcher and Travel Writer.