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Dear Chacha Nehru,I googled, ‘A Tryst with Destiny’, and lo and behold! I had in front of me the speech that you had delivered on the eve of our country’s independence.

“Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom…”

The tone of your voice still lingers in my subconscious mind. But I made an observation – the terms ‘independence’ and ‘republic’ make no appearance in your speech (it’s not difficult to find that, just a Ctrl-F and it says ‘no matches found’). Yet, year after year, it is only on independence days, republic days and once in a blue moon like today, when the Ping! editor blackmails me into writing something on independence, that I remember your speech. You may want to blame me for indifference and I have no explanation to give on my behalf.

A question that starts bugging me now is, what boundaries or why any boundaries for that matter? Perhaps what the next person has to say will put my mind to rest. ‘Independence to me is not carefree attitude, but freedom with responsibility. It does not have to be related with others’ decisions. However, if we keep up to our own decisions regarding our freedom, we can stay more satisfied with our life, maybe more independent.’

I am sure this person understands why you said in your speech, ‘freedom and power bring responsibility’.

Yes, we have a lot of problems today. Day-in and day-out we have newspaper headlines staring at us, none of which you could have ever conceived of, while placing your signature on the brilliantly drafted Constitution of our country. Only recently, the arrest of political cartoonist and activist Aseem Trivedi, on charges of sedition, makes us wonder, does freedom and independence actually exist? Or was it that he did not respect his responsibilities? I am no judge, but had you been here, there could have been justice.

The entire Lokpal bill fiasco (no offence to Team Anna), was an eye-opener as to how much today’s leaders are sympathetic towards the opinions of the public. One fellow among us has expressed: ‘During 1947, when India became independent, it actually did not. It is still governed by the British rules. People, at present, are selfish and self-centered. They can back- stab anyone when the need comes’. Another one chimes in, ‘People are not independent at present. We reprimand India’s culture and burgeon British culture.’ What do you think about this?

Chachaji, I am sure I have taken a lot of your time with my musings, coupled with the ‘voices’ of our campus residents. As always, I like to bring this letter to an end on a happy note. As one more friend puts it, ‘Independence to me is the freedom to dream big, and implement your ideas. Independence is when thoughts are not limited by society’s rituals and people are not afraid of expressing themselves.’ I am sure we all hope to build a society that you and other visionaries once believed India would be.

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