Humankind has been at several interesting thresholds while transiting through various phases of its evolution. Never before have we experienced such intense craving for ‘freedom’ as we do now, almost to the extent of being a compelling demand. And never before has this craving been so absolute and singular that the ‘freedom with responsibility’ is preferred as a separate, un-linked point of reflection.

As we greet and celebrate another independence day … its worth reflecting what ‘responsibility’ does our ‘freedom’ construe … naturally so, not as a matter of obligation. Some of us may argue out the relevance of ‘cost of freedom’ as a topic for reflection, suggesting it might have been more relevant during our post-independence, under-developed times. And that in the present times of economic, social & cultural boundary-lessness , ‘freedom’ is a given. Indeed. In-fact it should ideally have been so at all times and in all spaces of human world. That said, freedom creates greatest of all the human powers and “with great power comes great responsibility”, said Gandalf (Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings) or more famously Uncle Parker (Spiderman). I wonder what would be our reaction if some day all our ‘given’ freedoms are taken back because we are found ‘not responsible enough’.

‘Freedom’ and ‘Responsibility’ have a symbiotic nature. They are entwined. ‘Freedom’ without ‘Responsibility’ may turn perilous. It may give some individuals (or sections of society) a temporary advantage but not without causing a permanent disadvantage to the collective. There may be safety from ‘blame’ today but such ‘blame-proofing’ makes the ‘sustained freedom’ rather unsafe. Likewise ‘Responsibility’ without ‘Freedom’ may feel burdensome and weaken a sense of ‘free-will ownership’.

In my personal view (open to correction, if so needed) , it may not be as easy to find examples of the latter kind as that of the former. However, being an ‘Appreciative Inquirer’ , I want to focus on reasons and ways of weaving together ‘freedom’ and ‘responsibility’.

At the collective level, the industry and business world is called with an utmost urgency to mainstream ‘sustainability and inclusive development’ as a core business mandate. They have to rise beyond their utilitarian and profit-centric focus, and own their responsibility to design new-age economies, which exist for & with society & ecology, creating an inclusive, collective flourish. It is heartening to see growing awareness for ‘sustainable and socially responsible business’. There is now a statutory mandate for business to spend a certain amount of their net-profits on such agenda. However, this mindset must grow beyond ‘compliance-driven mandatory spend’ to ‘ownership-inspired creative mainstreaming’.

At individual level, we as citizens have to offer as much or more to co-create the nation of our choice, as we expect our nation to offer to us. We don’t have to look for big opportunities which get us fame , rather commit ourselves to small everyday acts of ‘responsible citizen behaviours’.

But even more importantly than all these, all of us Indians must come forward to voluntarily co-own responsibility for absolute inter-faith, inter-class, inter-creed appreciation and harmony. On this independence day, let us all take a vow to make our ‘freedom’ worthy & meaningful.

Wishing India, wishing all of us, wishing Humankind … sustained shared-flourish, shared-joy, inter-faith appreciation & harmony, and loads of warmth … always.

Jai Hind
Neena Verma

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