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For most of our generation the exactitude of the pre independence era has never touched us; we were mere toddlers when freedom from outside control was acquired. As we grew up, the absence of personal experience during the bygone era was compensated to an extent from our exposure to those who participated in the freedom struggle and the free media. We witnessed the seeds sown of our systems, of governance, welfare, security, and judiciary and so on, and to this day we benefit from them. We began exercising our freedom, we had choice of action with no restraint, fair and equal opportunities, we could speak freely, answer with freedom, frank and outspoken, unrestricted use of our right to our property and fortune and so on. We were free to exercise all our senses and we did and continue. Yes undoubtedly independence has benefited the nation however straying from its dictionary definition it is timely to listen to Mahatma Gandhi: “Independence begins at the bottom…… Growth will not be a pyramid with the apex sustained by the bottom. But it will be an oceanic circle whose center will be the individual. Therefore the outermost circumference will not wield power to crush the inner circle but will give strength to all within and derive its own strength from it.” To those within the oceanic circle, independence may have trickled in but freedom remains a distant reality. The threat of the pyramid is indeed now looming large the base becoming wider sustaining the narrow pinnacle. It is worthwhile taking out an excerpt from the American Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness?” How far are we, from this reality of pursuit of happiness, from safe and secure life? Independence we have but do have freedom, from want, hunger, sickness and misery? Over the years we have witnessed the collapse of one institution after another. The reasons are not difficult to find, in fact the large majority of us have actively participated in the degradation. Our preconceived perceptions, our sentimental attachments, our narrow ideological moorings, our lackadaisical priorities have all contributed in placing our freedoms at peril and at the precipice. Whom to revere whom to trust? Can we honestly submit? We have leaders high on rhetoric but low on substance and treading with feet of clay. We have leaders who have no other agenda but to create a divisive society. We have leaders who on purpose water a few trees and let the rest of the forest dry and burn. In this chaotic environment only those few who can toy with the institutions have real freedom, the rest wait and watch. For our freedom to return and sustain the masses one of the foremost priority is the strengthening of the judicial process and the law and order machinery. The culprits and the criminals have to be locked up quickly for a common man to benefit from the institutional schemes and policies. A farmer does not have to pay higher price for fertilizers and seeds in the black market or to grease the bank official for a loan. A trader is not at the mercy of tax inspector. A laborer receives his wages from the block development officer for the amount he has signed. A contractor does not have to inflate his quotation for a project to cater for the percentages cuts he has to hand over to the officials. There are many more such victims for whom freedom remains a far cry. Flowery rhetoric’s from the rampart of any fortress will never fetch freedom but strengthening the institutions will.