Tomorrow, August 15, 2016, is the 69th anniversary of India getting its independence from the British. That is, India has been an independent country for 70 years now.
Check that. Some of us are not that independent. No, I am not talking about, “We are poor, have no avenues to improve our lot, exhibit our skills and capabilities, even though we are independent...” I am also not talking about not being able to enjoy the “Independence Day Special” movies on the various TV cable channels; or able to visit malls to empty out my wallet and/or max out my credit cards. One day of shopping opportunity wasted. No independence. I explain below how I lost out on my independence.
I am rather talking about the more mundane issue of being able to enjoy independence of my country and its citizens on this day. Do what I please, indeed celebrate this special day the way I want to celebrate – even if it be merely by introspection.
Your immediate response – your country (India) is indeed independent. No go. Any putative sovereignty India is supposed to have has been hocked to all and sundry – the global capital is the “all” and there are no sundries. Now that the argument about the country’s independence has been laid to rest, let me focus on the independence of its citizens.
I work in a place that is an hour-and-half commute (one way) from my residence. My employer has made it clear to me that I should enjoy independence by travelling by public transport for three hours on Independence Day. I should know how the “other”, who do not have the privilege of enjoying employer-provided travel comfort, live.
On top of that, the employer asks, “If you do not enjoy coming to your workplace on Independence Day, how would you do so on the other days? After all, haven’t you been told that one should enjoy his work”; what the redoubtable scientist Richard Feynman said on this matter - “The man happy in his work is ... doing what he loves to do...” Devoid of the context in which the above statement is made, I have no arguments. I have to visit my workplace on Independence Day, tomorrow. To enjoy my work (workplace).
That is the sting at the tail – workplace. I work in what India calls a “Deemed University.” Don’t ask – deemed by whom ... I haven’t a clue and definitely not by me. Here, work is defined by the workplace. If you are in the campus, you are deemed working. If you are in the classroom, you are deemed to be teaching. If you are in the library, laboratory, you are deemed to be studying/researching. If students are there in the classroom, they are deemed to be learning. If the management people are in their offices, they are deemed to be managing. Everything is deemed; but not in the sense of “esteem”, though listed as a synonym!
The management has decided that its employees have to mark their presence at the workplace to be deemed to be working. Students are exempted. They are deemed to be studenting all the time!
It is for all these “deemed to be”s, I have to go to the campus, a total time commitment of not less than 4 hours and the only reward I get is that my “Casual leave” account is untouched. I have to stand in the sun and watch some so-called dignitary hoist the national flag, (if it were in the northern parts of our country, hear songs from Manoj Kumar’s films) while losing my respect for the person.
I am not going to be working. No, and the management is well aware. It is also ensured that the next time round, I would dread this Independence Day celebration. (But, before that, the same feeling would engulf me in the days leading up to the next Republic Day).
How I wish that the nation never got independence from the British.
All because the Deemed Universities have ensured that the day will be celebrated as Deemed Independence Day.