Monday, September 29, 2008

Learning to Value Freedom

Learning to Value Freedom
By U. Mahesh Prabhu

Mel Gibson is my favorite Hollywood actor. His movie 'Braveheart', is my favorite. It is a film about a great Scottish hero called William Wallace, played by Gibson himself. In the movie there is a wonderful situation where Wallace joins the Scottish army with his friends to fight against the British. When he realizes that his own countrymen are unwilling to fight against the 'mighty' British army and are prepared to flee from the battlefield, Wallace makes an inspiring speech as follows: 'Sons of Scotland, I am William Wallace… and I see a whole army of my countrymen here in defiance of tyranny. You have come to fight as free men—and free men you are! What will you do without freedom? Fight and you may die, run and you may live… at least a while… and dying many years from now would you be willing to trade all the days, from this day until that, for ONE chance, just ONE CHANCE to come back here and tell our enemies that they make take our lives but they will never take our FREEDOM!' True, freedom is worth trading our life for. After all what is life worth without freedom?

Alas, our incompetent and gutless Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, it seems, never saw the movie. His qualifications, also, have not in any way helped him weigh the repercussions of the Indo-US nuclear deal against that of freedom of this great land. With the American Congress passing the deal, it's now just one step short of becoming functional and thereafter India may be a nation of free people but the country's freedom shall have been sold—forever. A blunder is being committed, a great act of betrayal is being staged, and yet the media is showcasing it as a 'great triumph'. Nothing to me is more bizarre than the irrational and illogical portrayal of these incidents by the media.

The idea behind the Indo-US nuclear deal is to remove the 34-year embargo on India by the superpower since its first nuclear testing under the reign of Indira Gandhi. But didn't India test nuclear weapons on a much broader scale in 1996? Were the technical embargoes any hindrance to Indians developing their own weapons of mass destruction? During the period of embargo didn't we develop the supercomputer PARAM indigenously?

When sanctions came our way, after the 1996 test, India came under heavy pressure. Financially, we had every reason to collapse. But that we survived our worst nightmare is a well-known fact today. We showed that India can stand independent. Just as our self-reliance was being tested and when we began proving ourselves time and over again, this government run by a 'super Prime Minister' (read Sonia Gandhi) controlling a weak and gutless pawn began trading India's fundamental freedom as a nation. Should we sign the deal, India's very independent foreign policy will be in the hands of the Americans. What could be worse than that?

India's resilient effort to be a free nation was tested by the British for 300 years. When the struggle for freedom began in 1857, thousands of lives were lost. These great freedom fighters didn't lose heart despite coming up against those who decided to bow to the British and licked their boots. They were broken, but they refused to bend over. Even during the time of Mahatma Gandhi, it was only five percent of the population who actually fought the British. All others preferred to stay within the comforts of their homes. But today, the whole of this country is asleep as this deal, crafted with clever draftsmanship only in the interest of the Americans and the neocons, is being inked. Is it true that we no longer care about our nation and its freedom?

Yes, we raise our voice in agitation. Columnists write and we read about things that matter to our faith and that which matters to our wallet. Are those the only subjects interesting the people of this country? Muslims are complaining of injustice. They may well have had injustice, but don't we being the world's largest democracy endow on them a 'right to justice'? Why have they to look at Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other countries for help?

Why does the media and so-called intelligentsia spend so much time justifying the violent acts of these Jihadists? Why is the issue of trade of our free will, as a nation, being seldom spoken of ? Hindus, who have been opportunists for generation, are no lesser culprits. I don't agree that 'Hindus are by default patriotic'. No, they are not. Look at the numbers of people who have shifted away to America after having got their education and other benefits here. Isn't that a betrayal? Christians in this country too are no small stakeholders in this great Indian sell-off.

Recently, a petty clash between two religious communities in Mangalore was being projected in the national media as a national distress, and this crucial nuclear deal was being pushed between the pages. Sad, but true, that how easy it is to fool and confuse the people of this country.

It's time that Hindu, Christian, and Muslim brethren wake up from their petty religious ideological differences and work in tandem to preserve the greatness of this land which is the true reason for their being and their religious freedom. Let them understand that there will be no freedom without a free nation. 'India is important and supreme'— let them acknowledge this first before availing the 'freedom of faith' from the constitution. Let them learn to value their freedom, before even demanding it.

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