For 18-year-old Jairaj, who drives an autorickshaw to make some money and get the best treatment for his father who has been suffering from lung cancer, ‘azaadi’ actually means ‘freedom from poverty’.

On the occasion of India’s 73rd Independence Day, as the nation is decked up in patriotic fervour, many people are unclear about what independence actually means to them.

Jairaj said, “I was just waiting to turn 18 when friends in my circle were dreaming of better studies in college or universities. My father has been suffering from lung cancer for around three years and we do not have enough money to take him to big and famous hospitals. We are dependent on government hospitals. I have left all my dreams behind and now money is all that I want. The day I am mentally free from the shackles of poverty, I will be independent.”

Radha, a mother of a three-year-old, who sells balloons says, “To me independence means freedom from poverty. My child cries for the things which are accessible to other children of rich families. I cannot afford a sweet for him and he is begging for sweets when I am busy selling balloons. For half a day, I work at houses and I sell balloons in the evening.”

Concerned over the climate change and the nation fast becoming a concrete jungle, 28-year-old Tarika Mondal, who works with an MNC, said for her azaadi means freedom from health ailments. “This Independence Day let’s go green. I got a flag made of seed paper from office. The seeds will sprout when the paper is planted in soil thus raising saplings. The day our country is free of deforestation and everyone becomes aware about the value of green, it will be a day of independence. After all we will be free from health issues which are increasing due to lack of greenery.”

Yogesh Amin, a member of National Fertilizer Forum and consultative committee Food Corporation of India, said, “This Independence Day let’s all come together and help our brothers and sisters who have been affected by devastating floods. Let’s donate.”

Apurva Gulati, a 19-year-old DU student, said, “Freedom means living life freely without any lewd comments and judgments by passersby on the road. We should be free to travel without fear and parents should not be worried.”

Homemaker Lisha said, “This Independence I think the government should consider including real life inspirational stories of our soldiers in the syllabus of school kids across India.”