Recently, India celebrated her 75th Independence Day. Like in the past, this year too I woke up to patriotic songs playing in the neighborhood. It was a bright day with a subtle breeze which was just right for kite flying. As always, I watched the Prime Minister’s speech from Red Fort on TV with family and savored a special breakfast to commemorate the celebrations. I also watched a patriotic movie and later in the evening looked up at the sky for colorful kites. This year it was silent with only a handful of kites hovering like colorful birds up above. Nevertheless, I smiled while recalling days from my childhood when kite flying used to be fun with all my cousins. Maybe it’s the pandemic effect or is it the major infiltration of social media, OTT and gadgets in our lives? Of late, Independence Day has been largely associated with heavy discounts on shopping and tempting restaurant deals. Since 2020, this day has transformed into online shopping or ordering food through apps. What a massive change it's been over the years!
With so much unrest across the globe, I was pondering on the meaning and significance of independence. Afghanistan has started plunging into an era of darkness with the new Taliban government taking reins. There are reports of women being forcefully married or abducted from their homes. People are thronging at the international airport to flee the country. It was heartbreaking to see men clung to a U.S. airplane in desperation as it took off from Kabul and later falling to their death as the airplane increased its altitude. Haiti witnessed a massive earthquake. Its streets are full of rubble, the bodies are strewn over and the air is full of cries. Lebanon has come to a standstill with a fuel crisis amidst a financial meltdown, forcing hospitals, businesses and bakeries to scale back or close. Independence takes on a different meaning in these scenarios — freedom for extremism, corruption, natural disasters and ineffective governance.
Ours is an interconnected world and in India, we have followed the Vedic philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam — A Sanskrit phrase that means ‘the world is one family.' Even if one country is in distress, the entire world cannot be happy. The butterfly effect also propagates a similar concept. If we hope for a better, happier and peaceful world, all the countries must set aside their political, religious, social and economic differences and help each other. Consider the case of COVID vaccine inequality — several countries continue to struggle with stocks to vaccinate their population while others hoard stocks and raw material supplies. In fact, in some of the countries where the majority of the population is inoculated, the planning for booster doses is already in motion. We all know that till the time the majority of the population across the globe is inoculated, we will continue to witness the threats of new COVID variants and waves. Thus, all the first world countries must come together to help with vaccination in the developing and least developed countries to mitigate COVID-19.
On another note, independence means self-reliance. It’s a state of mind — a mind that is free from fear, stress and negative emotions such as greed, jealousy and anxiety. A mind that’s happy, clear of doubts and is equipped to make decisions. With so much toxicity and negativity around, it is easy to be swayed by negative emotions, isn’t it? I have no cent percent solution to this as I am also trying to say afloat. The first step is awareness and then find out what works the best for you from the plethora of solutions available. As they say, it’s OK to not be OK. Don’t rush for answers, just relax and they will come by on their own. Meanwhile, being grateful never hurts! Practice gratitude and you will see things will gradually start falling in line.
Today I feel grateful for my country, its soldiers and frontline staff and healthcare workers who continue to battle the COVID crisis and help with the largest vaccination drive across the globe. I pray for global peace and strength, especially for the people in Afghanistan, Haiti and Lebanon. Amen!