Highlights of my Address to the students of Bharat on the Independence Day 15.08.2019
· Our Greetings to you all on the occasion of our celebrating India’s 73rd Independence Day. Our prayers to God Almighty to bless our country and its people for Unity, Integrity, Peace, and Glory.
· On this occasion, I would rather like to pose to you a few thoughts for your pondering over. I would try to desist from advising. I wish the thoughts I share with you become a food for your own thoughts and action.
· On 15th August 1947 India attained Freedom. Freedom from the British Rule. Freedom to Self-rule. A political freedom as a free nation. This Freedom was obtained only after paying a heavy cost – the sacrifice of millions of people. Most of us may not have any understanding of the hardship the people and the country went through before they became free.
· India has made tremendous strides after we became politically independent.
Ø We have managed to rule ourselves well since 1947, despite several divisive forces acting on us.
Ø We have made considerable progress as a nation, economically, politically, and educationally.
Ø The kind of poverty that was there during the early 20th century is not there anymore.
Ø Most people are educated now – at least till the school finals level.
Ø The nation looks quite strong militarily; most nations look to India and watch keenly what we do.
Ø We are a strong economy now. We are a big market now for the world. Every nation wants to deal with India. Every nation wants to have a tie with India.
Ø The world believes that we are a stable and reliable nation. We have never defaulted any loan – internal or external.
Ø We are the youngest nation in the world. Nearly 40% of our population is in the age group of 5 to 25.
Ø As peace loving citizen, Indians are welcomes everywhere in the world.
Ø No one takes our nation for granted anymore.
· We can go on listing our progress in the last about 70 years. With all that, if only our awareness about our freedom has been there at all levels, we would have by now become a super power.
· Freedom, in general, comes with two important riders.
Ø Privileges or Rights
Ø Responsibilities or duties
· One without the other, in my opinion, can be meaningless.
· We all know what freedom is. But, do we really understand what freedom is?
Ø Freedom is not total independence. Today, no one, no species in this universe is completely independent. We are all inter-dependent people, species. Everything depends on everything else. What we say, what we do affects, impacts other people, other species on this universe.
Ø Freedom is not liberty to say and do anything we want.
· We should first learn, to know about freedom. It is not enough to know what freedom is. We must understand what freedom means. We must then internalize that understanding about what freedom is. Then, we become aware what freedom truly is. To say this in Tamil, கற்றல், அறிதல், புரிதல், உள்வாங்குதல், உணர்தல். Then only we can be said to be people with awareness. விழிப்புணர்வோடு கூடிய மனிதர்கள்.
· Freedom is a feeling. You can’t see it. You can’t touch it. We need to feel what true freedom is. Mere knowledge about freedom is not going to be sufficient.
· If you ask me whether today people in general are truly aware of what freedom is, I am rather ashamed to confess that people in general are not. We need to go a long way. Just imagine, if your parents tell you that you are completely free to decide what you want to do at your age; Imagine, if your school says there will be no more tests, exams, compulsion to attend classes, and so on. What would you do with that kind of freedom? Just think about it.
· In fact, to be free is to so scary. Things are easier if we are controlled by someone else. Because, we don’t have to worry about anything. Someone else will take care for us. When we are free, we have a great responsibility. Everyone is reluctant to assume responsibility.
· Freedom is Power. Phenomenal power. Phenomenal authority. Phenomenal Liberty. You must really enjoy the true freedom to feel the Power. Just one example will tell you the true nature of power from the freedom to act. We had a Chief Election Commissioner, Mr. T. N. Seshan, A Tamilnadu Cadre IAS officer, who was known for his straightforwardness and discipline, who transformed the whole electoral process in India, fully realizing the freedom, authority, power he derived as CEC, from Indian Constitution. The entire nation looked at him with great awe and admiration. There are many more examples.
· Freedom comes with responsibility. Not just privileges alone
· Freedom comes with phenomenal power. Only you need to know how to use the power
· Unfettered freedom could be dangerous
· Freedom must be a felt thing. A feeling, not just a knowledge. நாம் சுதந்திரமாக இருக்கிறோம் என்ற உணர்வு வேண்டும். அந்த உணர்வு இருந்தால் நாம் அந்த சுதந்திரத்தை எப்படிப் பயன்படுத்துவது என்பதை நன்கு அறிந்தவர்களாக இருப்போம்.
· Let us all work towards becoming aware of our freedom and the power, the responsibilities and duties that come with our freedom; not just about the rights and privileges alone.
I wish you all a bright future and pray Almight to help you all become responsible adults and responsible citizen of India. I wish you a new enlightened awareness of our freedom.
- T. N. Neelakantan