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I was listening to my grandma and my uncle talk about the nonsense they show on TV nowadays, about how Children in TV are shown to be arrogant or uttering things which do not suit their age, and then the topic turned to how there is too much 'freedom' given to today's youth, the fact that they are not bound by cultural ethos is making them directionless achievers; and as the discussion got accented, there was a hint that the world needs a dictatorial order - how youth need to be disciplined and made to act within the 'bounds' of our culture, how this will result in a more fruitful generation.

This, I am sure, is a common debate in many households in India and even elsewhere; the conclusion of course is very typical of the rightist philosophy bordering on, though not absolutely, vigilante approach.

I agree and disagree. Yes, freedom is a double edged sword, but absolute freedom does not have an alternative irrespective of its blemishes. In fact the word 'absolute freedom' is a misnomer, if its not absolute, it's not freedom! But why is freedom important? Is it just because it feels good to be free? Is it just because some of today's influential societies and their laws make it a 'fundamental right'?

I believe the answer is more fundamental than that (pun intended!). What determines whether a thought, an idea or a philosophy is right or wrong - time; only the test time can tell if an idea is right or wrong. An idea - Iridium - the global satellite phone network - hailed to be a stupendous success at the time of its launch, was a magnificent failure. So was the Segway, the human transporter. Moving away from science - the Socialist model of Communism hailed as a breakthrough for welfare of mankind at the time of its inception turned out to be a fallacy years later when it failed to deliver.

So, if time can only tell what works and what will not, the only way for mankind to progress is to allow as many possibilities in every walk of life to be seeded today, so that the best out of these become trees for mankind to grow. Most of them will fail, but some will succeed - and freedom is the most important element for these 'will be successful in future' ideas to sprout today. Cliched, but true, that freedom allows us to experiment and hence is the most 'fundamental' precondition for innovation to prosper and flourish.

And so, even if you hate what youngsters or outcasts today are doing - you should still not put any barriers on them - you never know where the next innovation might sprout out of. You may feel that polygamy and promiscuity is wrong or the gay movement is against the 'laws of nature' - but how do we know - the future of mankind may be saved by the promiscuous and gays. You may feel that children glued to mobile screens will hinder their physical development, but for all you know, the future may need a faster brain than body. You may feel that the gentleman wasting his time playing Candy Crush is going down the drain - but could the future of mankind lie is our abilities to play games better?

I know a lot of the above sounds absurd - so did the idea of democracy or Computers sound when it was seeded - The whole knowledge economy and computing revolution which has transformed our lives was born as a fringe movement of the outcast Hippy culture of the 70s. And while one may argue that it wasn't the drug smoking hippies who invented the personal computer, one cannot miss the fact that one of the leading icons of computing - Steve Jobs - was a hippie in his sophomore years. The freedom which allowed him to become a hippie also allowed him to experiment and create the personal computer - and you cannot classify freedom; it is the same freedom which results into both.

The point being made is simple - we need to allow these multiplicities of life exist; co-exist and intermingle to give a chance to mankind to survive. Freedom is the bedrock of such co-existence and intermingling; and hence it is the most important 'Fundamental Right'!


  1. Great article, and interesting thoughts. You write really well.


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