I am writing this piece on India's 70th Independence Day, so first things first - Happy Independence Day to us Indians. Now, we move to the title of my blog post.
I am a free man in my current social setup - i can talk freely(to an extent), walk freely, sing freely, shit freely; that's almost everything. But, can an underprivileged person say/feel the same? Before we talk about that, let's put the term 'underprivileged' in context.
An underprivileged person is someone who is at a disadvantage in a particular society. The disadvantage can be related/incurred due to someone's financial state, caste (we have so many tiffs, sometimes even riots, because of casteism), region of residence, appearance, sex (we have state chief ministers questioning a female's integrity if she is out of her house during night time) and some more.
If a person is financially underprivileged, can he/she do anything better than the modern slavery? Oh yes, slavery exists. It's just that you don't need to force people into it anymore, they rather fall into it because of their circumstances. There is a person literally pulling your weight in a rickety rikshaw to earn a few of pennies from your pocket. Now, you can argue that you are paying that person for the services. Of course, you are.
But do you think he is a free person? No, he is not. Free are the Ubers and the Olas, who have a fixed price set for you to either choose to avail the service or not. You can't make a bargain with these free corporate identities. But you, sure ,can with that rikshawala who is waiting to take you around the block for much lesser charges so that he can earn his dinner or desi pavva. What's even better, you can also beat the shit out of that rickshawala in a hot scorching afternoon if he gives your car a little scratch.
You are the one driving the 'Ford Endeavour', he is in a rickety rickshaw. Just, do it. No way, he can do shit about anything. You are the fat kid of a rich family, high on weight - thus momentum, he is just a malnourished underweight person, whom you can take out in one shoulder push. You know he can't even go to the Police complaining. The police will have to choose to protect the rich or the poor, it's as easy a choice as choosing between 1000 rupees or documenting an unnecessary FIR.
Now, do you think he is free or 'Independent'? He is not, because of us. Because of the way society looks down on him. He will continue to be a slave because we don't want him to do anything better than pulling a rickshaw. We don't want him to realize that he too can give an opinion, demand a fixed fee. We want to exploit him/underpay him so that he continues doing what he does. He is just a step of a ladder we have in place for us to climb over.
Can you bear the sight of a Rikshawala talking in a loud tone, like you can many other? Many can not. The Rikshawala has to behave in a certain way, because of our prejudice, to live in the society. He is not free.
Same goes for a girl wanting to booze and party on new year's eve just because his brother/cousin is flaunting it on Instagram. Now, drinking alcohol is bad for health, but for both the sexes. You can't frown upon just one of them and turn a blind eye to the other. So, are the females living in less aware/intelligent sections of society free? No, they are not.
Same goes for the minorities and lower caste people. There are more than enough cases making news where some high class person/group is thrashing the dalits/lower caste people in localities. Are these people 'Independent'? No, they are not.
Do these people look free to you?
So, when we are celebrating the Independence Day and the spirit of freedom; should we grant independence to underprivileged in our society? Should we be more tolerant? Should we free ourselves from the prejudice?