Freedom from fear is the freedom
I claim for you my motherland! Expressed Rabindranath Tagore so many years ago.

This is the freedom all of us want in our hearts too. Freedom from anarchy of system, “freedom from dwelling in a puppet’s world/ where movements are started through brainless wires/ repeated through mindless habits.’ Tagore

The meaning of Independence is ever evolving and ever expanding. What it meant in 1947 to what it means today in 2019.

In 1947 at the midnight hour when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru gave his ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech, joyous festivities broke across the nation. The nature and meaning has definitely changed today.

Were we really able to win freedom for all?
The street hawkers and small businessmen and roadside vendors who sell Independence Day accessories await the national holidays with fervor. Here’s their take on Independence Day.

Moving through the traffic a family from Rajasthan, mother and two kids, sell goods, all Independence Day accessories ranging from pens, pins to Indian flags. They seem to be a happy lot. “Nationalism is on a new high,” says the mother, “We are proud to be associated with it, even if it is by selling small little things.”

The present India is celebrating this Independence Day with a new found nationalism and cheer. They celebrate their individual freedom and these hawkers and vendors happily join in.

Vikas Jain a small vendor in the streets of Dharamshala says “there are many new-age artefacts, but trianga continues to be the main attraction. It is the symbol of our nation and fills everyone with pride. The young generation wants to celebrate with flags. They don’t even bargain. A flag gets sold easily for ten rupees.” He has a lot of other stuff too. Trinkets in tricolor, accessories for cars and stickers which he starts selling a fortnight in advance.

As you move through the crowded bazaar of Palampur you come across a small yet popular shop of Samaksh Sood. His father and now he, have been selling Independence Day accessories for a long time now. Independence Day is the flavor of the season. He doesn’t shy away when he admits that patriotism is their livelihood. Tricolour business is profitable he says. You can get a medium sized cloth flag for around forty rupees and a large one for around eighty, but these need to be pre-ordered. I asked him if they made these here. He laughs and shakes his head saying that he gets them from Kolkata. I pester him and he reveals that an investment of around six thousand can bring him a profit of ten thousand.

The hawker mother is happy. She is able to earn enough to feed her two kids. She looks forward to the national festivals more than the religious ones.

Does she care for freedom or independence? Is she and thousands of hawkers, vendors and shopkeepers like her, proud to be associated with the legacy of freedom?

I think they do not dwell much on it. They sure do feel proud and excited by all the fervor created as a by-product of Independence Day. But for them it is a way to make two ends meet.

So I wonder what all these years of freedom mean to our country. Should we feel happy that as nationalism and celebration of freedom increases, it creates an industry around it which has come to provide sustenance to many, or we should feel appalled that this industry has been created due to poverty and exploitation which are in contrast to the freedom that Tagore so fondly talks of?