In Search of ‘Azadi’

Arup Kumar Sen

The term ‘Azadi’ carries different meanings, depending on one’s political and socio-economic locations. The Indian State is celebrating75 years of ‘Azadi’ under the broad caption ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’. However, there are other dissident meanings of ‘Azadi’. While narrating Sanjay Kak’s Kashmir documentary, Jashn-e-Azadi (2007), Ananya Vajpeyi observed: “Howsoever unclear its political shape, Kashmiris know the emotional charge of azadi, its ability to keep alive in every Kashmiri heart a sense of struggle, of dissent, of hope. It is for Indians who do not know about this sentiment, or do not know how to react to it, that Kak has made his difficult, powerful film. And it is with Indian audiences that Kak has already had, and is likely to continue having, the most heated debate”. (See ‘Azadi: Theirs and Ours’, )

Very recently, the eminent historian, Tanika Sarkar, in her interview with writer and women’s rights activist, Sahba Husain, has raised critical questions about our ‘Azadi’: “Unfortunately, the State and also large parts of mainstream society assume that freedom has been fully accomplished after the British left and political sovereignty was all that people were striving for. Azadi, however, is a continuous project, an incomplete mission, as long as there is repression, exploitation, discrimination in the country…In fact, the struggle for the larger azadi has never been more urgent than it is today…Atrocities against minorities and Dalits, spectacular violence against women, not only persist but have intensified and the State no longer makes even gestural efforts to curb them. Every criticism carries the potential of being branded as Naxalism or terrorism. This is not what 75 years of Independence should have led us to”. (Indian Cultural Forum, Newsletter, February 26, 2022)

Listening to the dissident voices of ‘Azadi’ testifies that India’s freedom from colonial rule did not lead to attainment of freedom of its people.

Back to Home Page

Vol 54, No. 38, March 20 - 26, 2022