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Being Liberal in India

             By default, I am a worshipper of secular, inclusive democracy and free speech. Freedom in thought and speech 'should' symbolize what I stand for, in theory. In reality, I am the Indian who repines about my right to voice opinions every second day. And yet, precisely at the hour of need, this Indian simply suppresses his voice. In fact, when I think of the word 'liberal', Rabindranath Tagore's stirring words instantly come to mind:.
             "Where the mind is without fear and the.
             Head is held high.
             Where knowledge is free.
             Where the mind is led forward by thee.
             Into ever-widening thought and action.
             Into that heaven of freedom, my Father,.
             Let my country awake" .
             Tagore made a sincere entreaty to Indians more than a century ago, albeit one that has fallen on deaf ears, time and again. He was, indeed, ahead of his times in reminding us that in freedom lies the ultimate awakening. Sixty-eight years after Independence, we may remember to hoist a massive flag every year to mark our hard-earned day of freedom, but we have completely misplaced our definition of 'freedom' itself. .
             Imagine a violin being played in an orchestra-one moment it blends with the others in perfect harmony, at the very next, a sudden jarring note comes and ruins it all. To be liberal is to accept that jarring note, becoming the unswerving needle of truth, and courageously looking beyond the accepted harmony. It's about realizing that life is not always hunky-dory and limited to our comfort zones. There are going to be a few jarring notes in every society, curious people and situations that defy the norms. But by being liberal and open-minded, we grant them as much freedom to exist as the 'normal' does. .
             Back in school, our fifth grade textbooks would also remind us that 'India is a diverse country'. While growing up, however, our definition of 'diverse' grew taut and rigid.

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