Is Independence and Freedom the same?

By Bhuvi M

As 68th Independence Day of India was approaching by, last few days, the words “Independence” and “Freedom” had been hitting my mind to make some reason. I thought; why are they coming to me again and again? What is the significance? I gathered they were reasoning with me about their individuality which was blurred because of often interchangeable use by common mass. When I gave it some conscious thought, I was able to figure out magnanimous difference between these two. I was astounded how easily they are substituted one for the other.

Soaring High with Freedom  Photo credit Parul K.

Soaring High with Freedom
Image credit Parul K.

So what is the difference I fathomed?

  • Independence: is the physical or tangible form, like the country or person being independent. Where one is free to form rules, policy, govern and take decision. It is like being free body regulated within set of rules, practices and policies. These rules can be explicit or implicit, set by government or society or community or religion.
  • Freedom: is of higher form of having liberty to make choices. It has an intangible element along with physical element. One has an option to think, speak, act as one wants. In true sense the mind is free. There is no fear in actual freedom. It is powerful, where one can express.

Freedom gives one with choice hence entrusts with power. It renders one fearless. Along with its virtues, freedom brings in enormous responsibility; responsibility to use discretion, to be wise while exercising power. The power gets centralized in the individual. It should not be mistaken with anarchy where it is freedom making one powerful without responsibility.

Such a humongous role can be managed by a very mature individual. To have discretion of making right choice requires wise personality. Maturity and wisdom can be innate qualities of an individual, though rare. Maturity mostly evolves with time, experience and conscious practice. Such mature individuals are rare to find. Hence people experiencing freedom too is a rare phenomenon. Now it would be clear why independence is being misconstrued as freedom.

I will love to relate Freedom to the poem written by Rabindranath Tagore and included in the collection Gitanjali

Where The Mind Is Without Fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
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.

Coming to the last question, whether Independence and Freedom can co-exist and how do they relate to each other. I would say that independence is subset of freedom. Freedom always has independence within its ambit, though vice versa may not be true. Some scholars can debate; both can exist without each other.  One can be independent but can’t be free. The reverse can be right too where one is free but not independent.

I leave this debate for the readers to think and respond!!

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