“Coming from a rural background, I have seen poverty from close quarters in my childhood days. Last couple of decades though, I have seen tremendous growth in terms of basic life needs, education and empowerment while exploitation rate is coming down. Earning a decent living is no longer dependent on family background. I can do what I like and make a living out of it. This is my biggest sense of liberation. Families, societies are becoming more accommodative of diversities — caste, language, dressing style, work routine, etc and that is the biggest freedom as far as I am concerned.”
— Anand Kumar, entrepreneur
POWER TO THINK, ACT AND SPEAK
“Freedom to me means independence, equal opportunity for everyone. It means to allow myself to be what I want to be without any restrictions, but under the legal ambit. The power to think, act and speak freely, the fact that I can sit right now freely and pen down my thoughts without any external influence, means freedom to me. All thanks to the troops who actually uphold our freedom by protecting the country at all costs 24x7.”
— Adeep Singh Chahal, former Merchant Navy officer
LIVING IN THE PRESENT
“Living in the present, without worrying about the future or regretting about the past is what makes me feel free. It’s a basic human tendency to live in the past and keep worrying about the future. To be able to overcome that is what makes me feel free. It’s a tough job though, but to keep the thought going in my mind, I practise breathing techniques along with pranayams, because that helps me to relax and worry less. Listening to music, star gazing, yoga, chanting makes me feel free and alive.”
— Karan Arora, actor
MY INTERESTS, MY FREEDOM
“When I was growing up, for me, my personal freedom was that every moment which I spent trying out something new outside the spectrum of normal education. This freedom helped me pick up a passion and interest for wildlife conservation, photography, adventure sports and riding. Today, I am a professional photographer and documentary filmmaker promoting social causes and for me, ‘my freedom’ revolves around practising my interests with a professional purpose. I travel around the country documenting every moment I can. I feel unbound when I get to communicate with the masses. Being the person in between the content and the masses makes me feel liberated and responsible.”
— Prahlad Menon, cinematographer
BEING TRUE TO MYSELF
I have always been able to make decisions about my life. But I won’t call it absolute freedom. Being able to cook for myself and keep my stuff balanced, telling people what I think without being scared of getting judged is freedom. I am 21 and I am becoming my own person. I talk to my parents about most of the problems. Worrying less, staying playful, being true to myself makes me feel free. Some of our actions make us feel tied down, like wrong financial decisions, hanging around with the people who cause us trouble etc, but everyday there’s a fresh chance to make things better. Freedom is sometimes hard to get, so keep it safe and also offer it to others.
— Salina Mohani, dentistry student
A mind free from inhibitions is what defines freedom to me. It is not the right constituted by the government, it is the state of mind I was born with. Freedom means to practise my own beliefs and choose my morals under the umbrella of humanity, not religion. Freedom means to prepare for my future and feel secure in my own skin. Freedom is to be free from the debate of freedom and to enact it. Freedom is to acquire a natural audacity to hope beyond limits, not just for yourself but for every living being.
— Nidhi Kochar, Senior Tech Operations Analyst
IT’S IN SMALL THINGS THAT MATTER TO ME
Freedom to me isn’t only about having a career of your choice, marrying the person you love, coming home late in the night, traveling alone or spending a bomb on yourself. It is much more and much needed in the little things of daily life. I feel liberated when everyone else is having daal-chawal in lunch and I can order a fruit salad for myself or when it is ok if I do not join the birthday party at a neighbour’s place with my family or when I do not need to hide the tattoo on my arm while visiting my grandmother (tattoo is a taboo in villages) or when I can bathe at nights, talk openly about my menstrual cramps... the list is endless!
— Neha Mishra, Founder, Even Eyes Communication
IT’S A PERSPECTIVE
Liberation is a perspective. For me, it is a restricted term as I am a woman. I cannot ride an untamed horse as I have defined boundaries. Boundaries that are defined not by me but by society which has a rich culture but conservative mind. This society defines your very existence. If you have the courage to accept that, then you can call yourself free. But if you revolt, the society will outcast you. There are many who had the courage to step out and create their own boundaries. I am one such free bird who is still looking for a clear sky. But I guess I still have a different life defined for me in my dreams. I have lived my life as a solo and totally called myself free. But now I have a family and my freedom, in the way I defined earlier, may have repercussions on others which I have to consider. I cannot be selfish now, I cannot be an untamed horse. Of course, this life too has different freedom which makes me happy.
— Snehi Jha, HR professional