Liberté, égalité, fraternité

This was the cry of the oppressed peasants during the French revolution and is now the national motto of France.

Let me quote Wikipedia here on what these terms stand for.

“Liberty consists of being able to do anything that does not harm others: thus, the exercise of the natural rights of every man or woman has no bounds other than those that guarantee other members of society the enjoyment of these same rights.”

Unfortunately in our side of the world, we tend to stand judgment on others, discuss and argue to death about certain issues that definitely belong within the purview of the natural rights of another person – like his/her sexual choices, food habits and when we are pushed to the wall, we use arguments like “culture”, “ethics” and “morals” to defend our right to dictate  other peoples’ choices and condemn theirs – just because we find them inconvenient.  In fact honor killing by parents or this sad and sordid case of a mother posting her daughter’s nude pic on the internet would not happen if us Asians truly respected our children and treated them as responsible adults with the right to choices and privacy.

Equality is another impossible ideal.  To quote Wikipedia again : The law “must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. All citizens, being equal in its eyes, shall be equally eligible to all high offices, public positions and employments, according to their ability, and without other distinction than that of their virtues and talents.”

But in our corner of the planet the law is a chattel or slave of the rich and powerful.  The poor are at the mercy of police and influential despots.  We have a Mayawati who tramples the rights of the dalits who voted her to power, we have a Kalmadi and a Raja who are sure that the law will look the other way and they wont get punished.  We have parents who think their children are puppets – a school of thought beautifully portrayed by Rishi Kapoor in the movie Patiala House.  The repression, the over bearing behavior put my teeth on edge.

Fraternity : “Any man aspires to liberty, to equality, but he can not achieve it without the assistance of other men, without fraternity”

Tell this to an Indian, who has been schooled well in our schools and colleges, where cut throat competiton started in pre nursery and has been the only constant factor in his/her otherwise diverse life, and that person will laugh at you.  We look at our fellow man as a competitor, and are ready to snatch, grab and back stab.  Not only that, we discriminate between the fair and the dark skins, the castes and the sexes.

I wonder at the future of my country – that I love dearly.  More than that, I mourn at the state of the ideals stated above, ideals that I cherish more than any thing else in life.

I long for a revolution – that will grant us the ideals.

Hell, forget that, I long for the thrill of marching in a procession at Jantar Mantar yelling at the top of my voice

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

20 thoughts on “Liberté, égalité, fraternité

  1. I am going to talk about Liberty Ritu – I love my country, but I would rather live in the west – you know why – because there people don’t give a damn about whether I am married or unmarried, straight or gay, having a live in or not why I don’t have children etc etc .. Perhaps in the west people don’t really care about you and this is not good because India is a much warmer and friendlier and helpful society – but still I need people to get out of my hair!As long as I am not being a nuisance to society I should very well like to be left alone, thank you very much !
    Equality – cant put it better than you have Ritu ! I despair for this country too ! Oh yes I do !
    (My god I could do a whole post on this!)

  2. The problem is things start as a revolution but soon go on to personal gains .. especially in our country look at the Sikh movemment all fine but how it turned out to be .. same with maoists .. and a lot of others tooo .

    In my own country i am more prone to racism or class racism then here in uk.. I have not had a single chnce to expeerience any of that .. I mean all the time .. whereas i been t osouth indian I was called OYE SARDAR.. went to himachal and called names.. for being a sardar and also being from the Plains …

    So WHY would i want to come back and settle at home.. is a big question …
    Equality is not there at all NO Matter what people say or how developed the country is TILL the basic values ae not changed this wil never be there .. if 10% of population is seeing the development then its Not a development …


  3. Mostly agree with you.
    Few points
    1)”We look at our fellow man as a competitor, and are ready to snatch, grab and back stab.”
    Not just between man but also between various classes of Indian society.
    Just read a few right-wing blogs and you will notice the vitriol against every welfare policies meant for the poor. But that is true for the right-leaning westerners as well…..

    2)The article that you linked about the Chinese mother is from “The Huffington Post”….i strongly suggest that you read that news website regularly especially the comment section. You will definitely notice that many of the things that you wrote is actually true for west as well….

  4. I think we are going through a revolution right now. It’s a slow, steady revolution with some occasional Muthaliccups… I mean hiccups. We have changed the way we live, dream, hope, fight back or simply ignore and keep going. (And we can actually afford to ignore!)
    Today, generally our neighbours may talk about the hours we keep, or what we eat or drink, or who we interact with, but they can’t do much else – at least in cities and slowly (too slowly I agree) the revolution is going to spread everywhere.

    There will be hiccups and major worries and protests about the joys of living in the caves (or thatched huts, for those who moved with the times for a while, before they remembered the beauty of their past) but in the end most of us will realise how lucky we are to be able to control our own lives.

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