By Neel Anil Panicker 
Freedom. The Oxford English dictionary defines this seven letter word as the “power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants”.
It also goes forth and says freedom is also a countable noun implying that there are various kinds of freedom.
Well, if you go by the above definition then the answer to the question, “Do we have freedom is a big NO. As to its corollary question, : How much freedom do we enjoy, the answer again is pretty relative and all I can say to that is only as much the other person can tolerate.
Look around us and we receive everyday validation of this.
A powerful, moneyed father brutally hacks to death a young man in full public view. Guess what__the 23-year old’s engineering graduate’s only crime was that he misconstrued freedom as the right to fall in love, marry and dream of bringing a child into this world, a child to be born of the blood of an upper caste Hindu girl and a lower caste Christian boy.
Turn your gaze elsewhere in this largest functional democracy in the world and you will find that almost on an everyday basis innocent men of a certain religious denomination are killed only for the ‘grave’ offence of either eating beef, or trading in cattle well past their prime.
Yes, there is freedom in this beautiful country of ours. There is an absolute freedom to act, speak, and think what one wants, but then, very sadly, that freedom is enjoyed by a select few, by those who misuse it to browbeat and bully and bamboozle others into cowering submission.
It is these lumpen types who have anointed themselves as guardians of morality and righteousness and it is again these bigoted, parochial, regressive thinking and self serving wolves in sheep’s clothing who, hiding behind the garb of religion, caste, colour, and region who take it as their birthright to determine what is right for a person, society national, and even the world.
Not only have these new upstarts have the power and freedom to buttress and pulverize any opposition to their ideology and line of thinking but they also have anointed themselves with fancy names, names that they believe will only help to carry forth, propagate and bring to fruition the purpose of their anti-societal, nihilistic agendas.
The last few years have seen the invasion of fancy words in the ever expanding public lexicon.
Jostling for eye ball attention along with revered names such as Ram Bhakts, Shiv Bhatks, Modi Bhakts, Hindutva, Hinduvadi, Manuvadi et al are new age esoteric words including lynchistan, vigilantism, , Godhra, Babri Masjid, jehad, ghar wapsi, minoritism, appeasement…the list just carries on.
The battle lines have been drawn and newly minted social contractors of ‘modern India’ are the new demi-gods whom all of us need to pay obeisance to if we need to survive in this increasingly freedom-less society that our country is in real danger of turning into.
So, as to the question ‘what does freedom mean to me and am I free?’, I can only answer that I am not free to answer that question truthfully lest the 21st ‘guardians of morality’ hunt me down nee even lynch me for daring to speak the truth.
#neelanilpanicker #essay #freedom #india #regressive #538words

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