INDEPENDENCE DAY means different things to different people. The truth is that these days it means everything other than what it actually is! While for some it may mean a holiday to sleep & laze around the entire day, for others it means a movie day where in they get to catch up on movies that they missed out during the month. These days Independence Day has got a new meaning with various shopping sites giving discounts to bring in customers. Some attend the flag hoisting ceremonies at their schools, work places while others make it a tradition to watch the Prime Minister’s speech every year.
So what exactly is the basic essence of this day? We will never truly understand the significance of the freedom struggle that culminated into us being an independent country because we were born in a free country. We have no experience of being ruled by anyone other than our corrupt netas. Whatever we know about the freedom struggle is either through our teachers, our elders, books or movies. So no matter how many 15th of Augusts come & go, we will never be able to truly appreciate the value of being free, because you appreciate the value of something only when you don’t have it. But because we are all in this free country, we all have the freedom to do whatever we want. And with that, a student has the freedom to choose the career of his/her choice. Gone are the days when the only options (mainly in the eyes of the parents) were being doctor, engineer, teacher or trying to bag a prestigious job in a bank. These days there is an whole array of opportunities in front of the students. You want to become a sports person? A fashion designer?, Talk show host? You can! You want to be dancer , singer, you want to build a website…. There’s absolutely nothing to stop you. The opportunities are endless and in all these you can earn well too. Because of the sacrifice of so many people during the freedom struggle today we have all the freedom in the world to be what we want.
But like its said in Spiderman movies “With great power comes great responsibility” and with this freedom comes a lot of responsibility too. If something sounds too good to be true, you can be sure that it comes with strings. You want to become a great cricketer? Yes you definitely can become the next Sachin Tendulkar or Virat Kohli or in case of the girls Mithali Raj. Everyone knows how much money cricketers make in the IPL these days. Not just cricket but in any sport. But one has to remember that for every Sachin Tendulkar there are thousands of players who don’t even manage to make it to the domestic circuit inspite of all the hard work either because of politics or because someone else is better than them. So by chance if you are one of those who doesn’t make it…..THEN WHAT?
There are so many young talented singers & dancers around. These days reality shows have enabled those even from unheard places to shine on these platforms. So if someone wants to become the next Indian Idol or dancing superstar they can’t say that they don’t have the opportunity. Everyone has the freedom to go and try. But these competitions are almost always about coming first with the runners up quickly forgotten, so by chance if you come second….. THEN WHAT?
That is why one always needs a backup plan. And what exactly is this backup plan? It is what we all do in our schools and colleges for almost a quarter of our lives – EDUCATION. No matter what career path one chooses, education is important. If one plans to be a doctor, engineer, teacher obviously it can’t be done without studying. In case one plans on pursuing any other career and somehow doesn’t succeed, then it is education that will help you succeed in life by enabling you get into an alternate profession.
There’s hardly anyone who’s not on Facebook these days. You may not know about the freedom struggle and its heroes but everyone knows about how Mark Zuckerberg became a billionaire at a very young age. His girl friend broke up with him & so in a fit of rage he built a website overnight to get back at her. That website somehow became famous as Facebook on which we spend hours doing nothing worthwhile while he fills his pockets at our expense. Some say it was pure luck! What luck? He could build a website because he was good in his subject, his coding, his education. If he wasn’t good in his subject, after his breakup instead of building a website he would have gone to his room, locked it and cried or drowned his sorrows in a bottle of Old Monk and today nobody would know who he was and you wouldn’t have found the link to this blog post on Facebook.
This is the reason why all our school teachers have always put in so much effort in us. It might be very irritating when throughout our student life all we are asked to do is STUDY. When we are students we wonder when we would grow up so that we wouldn’t have to study at all! And when we grow up we realise that the student life with all the studying was much better than the problems of adulthood. But your teachers know that the effort you put in now will help you in later, will give you freedom to do what you want in life later. Whether its Maths or science or languages or social science…..everything is used in some form or the other later in life. So if your math sir keeps making you solve problems like it were the end of the world, if your social science teacher keeps making you write important dates in the back of your note book & revise them, if your English teacher corrects your grammar & spellings its because it is all going to be helpful someday in the future. It is because they want you to become successful in life and someday come back to the institution happy. Its not as if they gain anything by educating you otherwise. I keep meeting a teacher of mine and one favourite question which all old students ask their teachers is “Sir how are the students now.” We all like to compare students of different generations. He always gives the same answer “All students are good” How can all students be good? Some are mischievous, some are irritating , some are trouble makers. But that is how teachers are, They might scold you, give you assignments but according to them students are always good.
So this independence day if your not going to think about our freedom fighters at least think of what this freedom means to you and make the most of it. Yes there are lots of problems in our country. There’s corruption, rape, violence. Life is not always pleasant here. But if there’s anyone who can make it better its only US! We are not just another brick in the wall!
AUTHORS NOTE: This a a part of the speech given by the author on Independence day to the students of his former school.