What Does Independence Mean To You?


What does freedom / independence mean to you?
What does freedom / independence mean to you?
What does freedom / independence mean to you?

Away from the blaring loud speakers and on loop promos of patriotic movies on TV channels to commemorate our Independence Day, I have been wondering about patriotism, independence, freedom and democracy… What does Independence mean to us today?

After reading Rajyashree’s post about festivities turning to absurdities sometimes, I was wondering how concepts of freedom, independence and patriotism have changed over time. I asked 7 year old Shalini, my neighbour’s adorable kid, she said, it meant “flag hoisting, singing the national anthem and then holiday from school”. There is no denying the general joy in the air because it’s a national holiday but Im sure in a spare moment or two all of us have reflected upon our own ‘freedom’ and ‘independence’ or what it means to us on this special day…

To me it has changed over the years. In school Independence was wearing nail paint on week days, in college it meant being able to work part time and support my education though my parents didn’t need the financial help at all and would rather I spent time studying at whatever it was that interested me. As I grew older Independence meant financial independence and over time that changed to having some level of creative freedom in our professional spheres (leading me to quit a steady job and start MumbaiMag ).

I couldn’t resist the urge to ask everyone around me what does it mean to them to be free or independent. And here are the replies I received from friends, family members, MumbaiMag readers and writers… Real, personal and thought provoking… This is a live list and I will keep adding responses as I receive them. So email me at story@mumbaimag.com and share your vision of Independence.


Ever since I can recall, my dad would wake my sister and me up on the 15th August holiday and we’d all watch the entire ceremony on the telly together. None of us would even have brushed and mom would make us milk or tea. Even now, we make an effort to wake up and watch the entire ceremony wherever we are. What’s new is that my sister makes sure my 3 year old niece also joins this little tradition! So to me, this is a day of togetherness, of pride and of rich tradition.
Mehak Rampal, MumbaiMag Writer, Chandigarh

To me, Independence Day is just another day. Of course when we were young, it was all about marches and flag hoisting at school. My society does the whole flag hoisting event. But today, it’s all about loudspeakers blaring Bollywood songs, snacks and games. And it’s been this way for over 6 years now. I don’t see these celebrations adding any value, to the idea of Independence Day. Freedom to me would be to do what I want without causing trouble to someone else. But with people like Dhoble and MNS in this city, we’re still struggling.
Ekta Tibrewal, MumbaiMag Writer, Mumbai

Brotherhood, Friendship, Peace = True Freedom
Brotherhood, Friendship, Peace = True Freedom

Honestly speaking, its of no consequence to me. I don’t relate to it. For us, its a day to day struggle. Rising prices of fuel and essentials, problems of Zehn’s (daughter) admission into a good school, the never ending taxes, fear of being unemployed… In such a situation, what does Independence mean…?
Chuman Das, Independent Media Professional

Independence to me is being at Peace with Everything and Everyone!
Kenny D’Souza, Sound Engineer, Mumbai 

One of my most vivid memories of Independence day is when we sang the national anthem at school. (now we sing it at cinemas) but anyway, for me, independence is: knowing that I can raise my voice against injustice and not be afraid in doing so. Knowing that when I get out on the street, I am not answerable to anyone about what I wear, where I go and what I do. (besides my parents may be 😉 And on that note, I got the taste of Independence only through my parents. Who trusted me in whatever I did and let be grow as a person through my own experiences. Last but not the least, having stopped working only recently, what I miss the most is the ‘financial’ independence that I had 🙂 So make the most of whatever kind of independence you got when you got it and do NOT take it for granted! and yes, sometimes just think about how people like Bhagat Singh gave up their lives for us.
Divya Sharda, Writer, MumbaiMag.com


When I was 5 years old my parents sent me on my first flight alone. I was dropped off at the airport, and walked away without a worry while my parents anxiously watched me go. A gutsy move very few parents would take with their children. For the next two hours I would have to make my own decisions, chose my own food, decide which strangers not to talk to and when to go potty. Giant steps of independence for a 5 yr old. It was perhaps my first lesson being independent. To me independence is the ability to take one’s own decisions, stand up for those choices and face whatever consequences arise from them. A complete state of self reliance where one does not need approval or recognition from anyone else to feel complete. This is not to say that we don’t need help or advice, because is moments of weakness we do. But I believe true independence is achieved when you can by yourself sit by the sea, without needing anyone else or anything else to make you feel happy about who you are, in that moment.
Salonee Gadgil, Writer, MumbaiMag.com

Independence for me is the ultimate state of being. When you no longer need to depend on anyone or anything to do whatever you want to do. We’re all constantly struggling to get there – first it’s independence from parents’ curfew, then financial independence, emotional independence, creative freedom. It is that state of utter self reliance, where you choose your own decisions and take responsibility for them. Although we’re entering the 66th year of independence in India, I still see vestiges of undemocratic processes all around me. I still don’t have the freedom to be able to dress the way I want and not be groped for it. I still don’t have the choice of not complying with the rickshaw wala’s whimsical meter. I can’t even walk into a bar anymore and call for a drink, without the fear of being arrested and called a hooker. Like I said, we’re all just struggling to get there and as a country, there’s still a long way to go.
Ekta Valecha, Writer, MumbaiMag.com

Live Update:
My definition of Independence has changed over the years not because of the levels of education but because of the Cities.
I completed my school at Udaipur in 2002. From 84-02 life was very protected and I knew I would be allowed to continue the dance classes if I got good grades. However the first horror of my life struck when I was 12 and the neighbor molested me. I could never tell anyone. Level of Independence- Confused

I was sent to Delhi for further education, I studied there from 02-05, I was never allowed to go to parties, late night coffee with friends. I was staying with my Bua. Around 3rd year I was allowed to bring friends home. It was very closely monitored. Level of Independence- Jinxed

I returned to Udaipur in 05 and was there till 06 mid. I was preparing for B School entrances and I was interning at a MBA Entrance institute. I learnt to drive and found the first boy-friend. I still returned home by 6pm but I had a chance to fool around too. Level of Independence- Covert

Next city for 2 years was Hyderabad. B School-First beer-Break up- Almost a husband like boyfriend-Good Grades-once a year trip to home- another breakup. Level of Independence- Over the moon.

08 to now, Bangalore is my home. 4 years work ex with the no.1 Software firm-New job with a budding MNC – Marriage- Love of food – Less than 10 day trips to home. Level of Independence- Restrained.

As a woman I feel, there are almost a zillion things that pin us down. A lot of time, things keep us on top while others are fighting to pin us down. However, as a married- free spirited- Punjabi girl married to a Gujju, life has certainly let me free from one end while held me tight at another place. Independence? I am not sure what it really means to me as a person. However 66 yrs of being Independent as a nation and crawling, commendable.
Sent to us by WoMod on Twitter

So, what does Independence mean to you? You can comment below and also on our FaceBook photo album. You can also tag your friends in our photos and share your thoughts!

Images Courtesy: sxc.hu

Post By Garima Sharma (111 Posts)

Founding Editor at MumbaiMag, graffiti and street art lover, traveller, blogger and amateur photographer, slave to Thor, my Lab.


Garima Sharma

Garima Sharma
Founding Editor at MumbaiMag, graffiti and street art lover, traveller, blogger and amateur photographer, slave to Thor, my Lab.