As the 63rd Independence Day just passed by, my ever so inquisitive mind can’t help raising a few questions. Are we really free? If yes, how do you see freedom? Does freedom of thought and action figure in your list somewhere as it does in mine? Do you cringe when we’re bifurcated on flimsy grounds such as caste and sub-caste? Yes, we breathe free and have a democracy that functions (So it seems!!), but in spirit and thought, we are still bound by shackles. Our freedom is trampled upon in the name of caste, state, religion, tradition and custom. The worst part is there isn’t even a murmur of protest or dissent, forget raising the voice There are no doubts about the fact that media manufactured and advertising endorsed images of Independence and freedom are lapped up by our entire nation. Films on the freedom movement have been well received, too. I really am no exception. Every time, I hear A.R. Rahman’s Vande Mataram rendition, my heart swells up with pride. Whenever I see Amir Khan in the Incredible India Athithi Devo Bhav Campaign, I’m all eyes and ears. But there really is a long distance to go as far as freedom of thought and action is concerned in our society. We’ve come a long as a country, and the media has more than done its job of portraying it to the world. Surveys and statistics show us progressing in everything from per capita income to GDP. Coming back to where I started from, how free are we, especially in the realm of thought? If we really practiced freedom of thought, would there be any honour killings at all? Would the female sex-ratio be such an apology for statistics? Would men like Rahul Mahajan, who make a living out of beating their wives, merit any airspace or find mention in print? If we were truly free in spirit and thought, would inhuman and brutal practices like female foeticide exist, let alone flourish? Would a rapist or eve teaser get away by saying that the victim asked for it, with her dressing style or even worse be asked to marry the victim? Would housewives be clubbed with beggars and prostitutes in the census? It’s so easy to pass the buck and move on with the business of living. After all how does it affect our lives? Why should we ponder over these questions? It is easy to play the helpless pigeon that shuts his eyes to trouble, pretending it doesn’t exist anymore. We have a choice; either dismiss these questions and treat Independence Day like just another holiday or treat it just we do in case of any other festival or holiday. Or sit up and take cognizance of the fact that our social fabric is disintegrating, of the duplicity and double standards that are eating us hollow. Perhaps at the ripe age of 63, the India I see is still grappling and struggling with what to do with its freedom .An awkward adolescent trying to find its feet, trying to put its best forward, not yet prepared to deal with its own dark side, not yet mature enough to critique itself. A spoilt teenager, who refuses to accept her shortcomings. The real challenge is to help this adolescent become a fully functioning adult. The choice we make today will determine how we are seen tomorrow.