Year after year we celebrate our Independence Day. Many of us, though, celebrate it only formally. Just a handful of us are really enthusiastic about the celebration. Out of this handful too, perhaps very few really contemplate on the meaning of Independence. What does it mean to us today, some sixty odd years after we proclaimed it?

Are we truly independent?
Or, is it actually possible to be independent in today’s world?

Can we, as a nation, live independently without any form of inter-dependence? Can we live like an island? Can we cut ourselves off from the outer world, the way Communist China did until a couple decades ago?

The answer is definite “No”.
No way can we live that way in today’s world.

Being Independent in today’s world means being inter-dependent in such a way that we still keep up to our honor and dignity as a Free Nation. Being interdependent is not an insult to a free nation. It is not the same like being dependent.

Being interdependent means my tea is served on china.
Don’t correct me, china with small “c” stands for Chinese Ceramic. So, if Java tea is served on china – it is okay. But, please, do not kill my tea plantation, then force me to import tea from china and make me drink it from a cup made in China. That will make me dependent on China. Do you get my point?

Unfortunately, today we are being “forced” to be dependent. Our industries are killed to make way for imported goods. This is a direct attack to our freedom, to your and my freedom. What a pity that we have become insensitive to such attacks. We have become so numb – that we do not feel them any more.

A nation is no longer free if it becomes dependent on other nations. Such freedom means nothing. It is just a formality. And, this is our present state of affairs. Our freedom has come down to mere formality.

Yes, we have freed ourselves from foreign rule. But, alas, we have become strangers in our own country. A large section of our society is not concerned with whatever happens to the country, as long as they can maintain their life-styles. And, this section consists of both, the haves and the not-haves.

The haves, the affluent, the so called celebrities live in their own worlds. They have their own societies, and social lives. By donating a small portion of their income, they feel they have fulfilled their social responsibility.

The not-haves on the other hand, define freedom as an opportunity to beg freely. As long as they can buy anything on installments, as long as they can get loan – they are happy.

The gap between the haves and not haves are ever widening, deepening. Somewhere in that gap is lost our freedom!

We are a rich nation.
Once upon a time we could relieve the Netherlands of their loans. We have made quite a few oilmen richer than they ever were. Our soil is the most fertile soil in the entire world. Name any natural resource, and we have it; from spices to silver, gold, even diamonds; from vegetables and fruits to oil and rubber. We have tea, coffee, latex. We are a mine of natural resources.

On top of all that, we have human resources.
Two hundred million people mean two hundred million pairs of hands and legs. It is Two Hundred Million Brains! And yet, look at the number of people living under poverty line. Something is wrong, something is terribly wrong.

Where have we gone wrong?
We have not exercised our freedom in a right and effective manner.

We define freedom as a license to sell our natural resources indiscreetly. We have sold all our wood, most of our rubber, even oil to its last drop. We are too lazy to process our natural resources. We never think of added value that those resources can fetch us.

By processing our natural resources and selling them as finished products – we can create more industries. And, more industries mean more job opportunities, more employment. It is a shame that in a rich country like ours, 30 to 60% people still live under the poverty line. Thirty percent if you consider US$1/Per Day as Minimum Wage, and Sixty Percent, if you consider US$2/Per Day as Minimum Wage. The question is, even with the minimum wage of 2 US Dollars or about 18,000 Rupiahs Per Day, what kind of life do we imagine?

On the other hand, find out from the topmost Watchmakers in Switzerland, where are the best buyers for their most expensive custom made watches? Indonesia. You shall get the same answer from automobile manufacturers, and the mobile phone producers. Is it this kind of freedom that the founding fathers of this nation conceived, visualized and dreamt of?

Look at the number of malls, super malls and expensive stores all over the country, and then look at the pitiable condition of our traditional markets. Pay attention to the shelves of super markets, stuffed with imported food stuffs – and then look at not only the tattered clothes of our farmers, but their tattered lives.

A rich and free nation, where majority of the populace neither enjoy its richness nor the fruits of freedom – what do we call such a country?

But, the time has come when we stop complaining and start working to bring about the change that we want. The time has come when we stop expecting from our so called leaders, and take charge of our own lives. We have to lead this nation towards its betterment. And this is possible. Just a bit of caring, sense of urgency and the skill to manage our own affairs….. Yes, we can bring about the change. And then, only then we can proudly say that we are truly Independent, we are truly Free.