Are people from former generation proud of the freedom we have today? Is this the freedom we fought for? On the eve of Independence Day, Jaago Re met five elders who were alive to see the Indian flag being unfurled in an Independent India in 1947. Here’s what they said.
Janaki Kallapiran, 82
We regret fighting for this freedom
Is this what our freedom has given us?
Freedom for us meant getting rid of the British. We wanted our own people to rule. Now we regret fighting for this freedom.
We were very patriotic. In spite of the riots, life was peaceful for us. Now things have changed, you all run and make us run.
Cost of living is so high. Back then in 20 Rs. a man could run his entire family.
Before we used to have unity. Now we all are fighting over petty things. This is what our freedom has given.
Politics is just being played out between opposition and ruling: criticising and fighting with each other. They are doing nothing for India.
The constant news of rapes and attacks on women are disgusting. All these men have turned into monsters. Back then men had a conscience, they were God-fearing.
Fast and furious: new generation
This generation is fast and intelligent. Life is fast and competitive. There are all comforts of life, but no peace of mind.
There is a powerful media which didn’t exist then. This generation can easily stand up and point out mistakes, unlike our generation. We didn’t know anything.
My advice to the new generation
Learn to defend yourself from your opponents. Learn to free India, again.
Valliamma Pillai, 93 years old
Bound by nature
In those days connections were personal and bound by nature. We had freedom from technology which this generation cannot understand.
The growth in the industrial world - to mass produce hastily has almost given a demise to our beautiful indigenous craftsmen and their livelihood.
Freedom of the grasslands
Freedom in those days was to produce by cultivation, the love for your cows and birds as your family, drawing milk, collecting egg from your hen coop, growing more trees, grinding seeds to extract oil etc.
The freedom to leave your dogs unleashed, building your house with your own hands without any additional walls as partition or separation raised around your house. Today I find the very same place with walls and concrete buildings. People buy milk supplied in closed plastic covers.
Bonding is superficial, freedom is inhibited.
Allowing your daughter to go to school was a big deal
I was 5 years old when India acquired its freedom. Now you're lucky to do as you please.
Lost a chance to be financially independent
I was allowed to study. Yet I wanted to study music at an academy a few hours away from home. I was a really good singer. At the age of 14, my brother stepped in and said there's no need for girls to study afar.
I sometimes imagine - if I had the chance to develop my skills I could have been financially independent.
Stark difference between freedom then and now
Girls weren't even allowed to go to temples. Allowing your daughter to go to school was a big deal. Back then, we didn’t have knowledge or exposure.
Today's generation is brighter, sensible, daring. Even the kids know how to take care of themselves. They are well-informed. That is a sense of freedom. Knowledge is power. From being meek to being empowered, Indian youth has come a long way.
Yet this generation takes freedom for granted.
Sharda Venkatraman, 85 years old
We didn’t ever think independent India would be like this.
Our people ruling India is a disaster
We just wanted the outsiders to leave, and our own people to rule over us. But we didn’t think that in reality, it would be a disaster. I prefer the British now. They did good things for India then. They built the railways, the post office; they got rid of sati. Today's rulers just care about their own pockets; and nothing else.
Now nobody cares about the sacrifice of the elders who fought for the independence we have today.
Back then we could send our 7-year-old child to go out and shop for us. Now even the elderly are frightened to go out – we fear crimes, assaults. There's just no safety for anyone. All you have is corruption.
People were honest and sincere – everything's value was not determined by a price tag. Now, people will do anything for money. I can't believe how people now cheat for every little thing, every minute.
Even the generation has changed. In those days we would help and respect our elders.
There's no civic sense either. People think they can do whatever they want. Now the values and manners are forgotten.
License to Freedom
People should have a license to freedom. I want to tell this generation to be an Indian.
R.U. Prasad, 75 years
Even after so many years, we are nowhere.
Freedom imbibed at an early age
I was 5 years old when India acquired Independence. At that time we would wear the scout uniform and wave the Indian flag in our hands, proclaim slogans like Bharat Mata ki Jai, Quit India! Freedom then was the hope of turning India back to "Sone Ki chidiya". The idea of freedom was inculcated in our minds when we were very young. At that time, every village, town, city was united in their agenda of freedom.
Even after so many years, we are nowhere. Today freedom is just name –sake. Real sense of freedom is missing today.
Now you have the Government. Earlier we didn’t have a Government. Corruption has trickled down from top posts to lowest posts in administration.
Freedom means Discipline
For freedom, today we need to bring strict changes in the system. Replace the crumbling system of corruption to a correct way of living. Now freedom means discipline or freedom means nothing. Freedom comes with a code of conduct.
Power lies with our Generation
This generation has the power to change things. It is their duty to reverse this horrible situation and take us back to our golden days.
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