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Liberty and Freedom

Tuesday October 26 2004 08:58 IST

By Karmayogi

Liberty and Freedom are synonymous, but have a clear distinction in the enjoyment of it. English grammar is unable to fix the phrase 'Love of the child' to a precise meaning by its rules. It means both the love of the child for the mother and the love of the mother for the child.

The context explains, not the rules. Freedom can mean what the government or the society extends to the individual; liberty can also mean the extent the individual enjoys that freedom in the reality of his daily functioning.

One may read a great book on Freedom or listen to a great man's lecture on it and be inspired, but when he comes home, his Hindu parents may prevent him from attending a prayer in the Christian Church. His liberty is thus curtailed. The Rishis spoke of sarvam Brahmam, but at home some people are not admitted because of this or that. Inhibitions are there at all levels.

The editor of Newsweek International, an Indian Muslim who was born here and settled in USA, wrote a book on The Future of Freedom. The book was commented upon by Henry Kissinger and reviewed by The New York Times. It is felt the complex questions that Zakaria, the author, raises are relevant to the present day world. He powerfully raises the issue of human liberty in the context of India, China, USA and several European nations.

His conviction is democracy is the ultimate political goal as an institution. It can survive, grow and fulfil itself in the measure individual liberty is permitted and enjoyed in reality. This is possible, he says, by fostering statutory institutions like the judiciary, the Service Commission that recruits, the Comptroller-General who audits the public accounts, the RBI which monitors the flow of finance. He ably discusses his points of view.

Spiritually, one who REFUSES to take away another's freedom because he can abridge it, is the one who fosters liberty. An old saying about the freedom of speech is, ‘‘I shall fight for your freedom of speech when you want to project hostile criticism of my views.'' When Gokhale Hall was inaugurated over a hundred years ago, Annie Besant said that in allotting the Hall for public meetings, the above should guide the Trustees. The husband who refused to dominate his weak wife is a defender of liberty. Manuneedhi Cholan was guided by that Spirit.

Indian spirituality has the essence of freedom, democracy, liberty in its universal principle and its personal expression in the individual. It is given to Indians to give earnest consideration of it.
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