Freedom? Still awaited!

Yesterday we celebrated the freedom of our nation. That was freedom  from dominion by an alien race. We wanted to be free – to prosper, to further ourselves, to contribute to our nations and mankind, to become better people.

the first stamp of independent India, released on 21 Nov 1947

The first stamp of independent India, released on 21 Nov 1947

We did not become free to serve new overlords – in any field, whether it was public life or in private life; definitely not in our love for learning, discovery and engagement with the world around us. In 62 years, more than a lifetime for many of us, we continue to be restrained. Simple things like Knowledge, which should be free, continue to elude us; nay to be denied us by artificial constructs such as copyright, by bureaucracies, by small, selfish people who are blind to the larger picture, the enormous latent possibilities in the hearts and minds of the common Indians and who do not consider the common man to be a stakeholder in anything which affects him.

“Satyameva jayate”

may be interpreted as

“The truth shall set you free.”

So on this day, I celebrate freedom. Free practices, free knowledge, free thinking.

I have placed this blog under free licenses explicitly.

The content on this blog is free!

Free to be used by you, quoted, modified, transformed and even used commercially.

But with the proviso that the freedom which I give you has to be passed on to your stakeholders and you cannot take that freedom away as they can’t  in their turn. And my copyright (or more accurately, my copyleft) needs to be acknowledged by attribution.

Wikipedia - free content in the real world!

Wikipedia - free content in the real world!

The exact terms can be seen from the links on the two licenses (take your pick of one) in the license widget in the right panel on the blog main page.

This blog already has an impassioned plea for Open science by Shyamal.

‘Open science’ is actually a weasel word, mistakenly used by me to title his op-ed; he had not given one to his piece.

We actually need ‘Free science’.

Just as Free software is a more powerful concept than Open source software, so is ‘Free Science’ more ‘free’ than ‘Open Science’.

Richard Stallman - The Prophet for Freedom in content!

Richard Stallman - The Prophet for Freedom in content!

“Value your freedom or you will lose it, teaches history. “Don’t bother us with politics,” respond those who don’t want to learn.”

Richard Stallman, circa 2000.

Just as open source is a compromise between the commercial world of big business and the FLOSS community, ‘Open Science’ envisages an avatar of traditional science where you and I are valued stakeholders.

But my wish is the same that Capt Vikram Batra, Param Vir Chakra (posthumous) paraphrased after the capture of  Pt 5140 p –

Yeh dil mange more!

Yeh dil mange more!

Science should not be just ‘open’ but also should be ‘free’

It should be free to all stakeholders to better their lives and their heritage. Clean green technology freely available to all for saving our planet. Technology to better our lives also free, if not to all concerned, but definitely to those who can’t feed their bellies every day. Science free from the top to the bottom – from academia to the hoi-polloi, from the technocrat to the consumer, from the practioner to the enthusiast.

Maybe, its a pipe dream, but I wish…..

If you find this rant mis-placed in the context of India’s freedom, I allow Stallman to reply for me once again. Only replace the word ‘software’ with the word ‘science’…

“It’s clear that other problems such as religious fundamentalism, overpopulation, damage to the environment, and the domination of business over government, science, thought, and society, are much bigger than non-free software. But many other people are already working on them, and I don’t have any great aptitude or ideas for how to address them. So it seems best for me to keep working on the issue of free software. Besides, free software does counter one aspect of business domination of society.”

—–

God bless all who gave their tomorrow for our today!

Credits – Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikiquote.

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8 Comments on “Freedom? Still awaited!”

  1. Ava Says:

    I chafe at the things that hold me back. But find myself unable to cut free of the shackles because I am in a vicious circle. I have to work to survive and pay bills. But my job and the times I have to be in office prevent me from doing my own thing. sigh !

    How can I not join in your song for freedom.

  2. Lekshmi Says:

    Thanks Ashwin,

    The freedom that Tagore glorified in his ‘Prayer’ is so personal! Even inside the establishment of free nation, every individual has to understand and value freedom and that by itself will be our payback to the great heroes!

    Easier said, than done!


  3. Reminds me of ‘Kabiguru’ Rabindranath Tagore’s poem:

    Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
    Where knowledge is free
    Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
    By narrow domestic walls
    Where words come out from the depth of truth
    Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
    Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
    Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
    Where the mind is led forward by thee
    Into ever-widening thought and action
    Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

    Immortal words! This is ‘Kabiguru’ Rabindranath Tagore’s dream of a free and glorious India… and we are way off the mark. Sigh!

  4. tys Says:

    freedom?..wht is that?

    i still have to use an alias if i want to speak what i feel is my truth lest i get another persons version of it run thru me with a sword..


    • Ty,

      That is so true!

      “It is more dangerous to be a great prophet or poet than to promote twenty companies for swindling simple folk out of their savings.”
      George Bernard Shaw

      But to quote the protagonist V in my favourite film V for Vendetta :-

      “His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives.”

      There are many paths to nirvana. The simple day-to-day use “truly free” software, images, music to the extent possible is one of them.

  5. Mr.R Says:

    Never knew you are army man ! I have highest regards for them.

    What you mentioned here as “free science” is a nobler thought in this world of copyrights and royalties.

    “The free man is he who does not fear to go to the end of his thought.”


    • Thank you, kind Sir! To paraphrase the forgotten author, I maintain that ” though I may disagree with you, I would give my life to preserve that right for you – the liberty to disagree with me!”


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