AKHIL KATYAL, 31

Poet, Au­thor and Pro­fes­sor, Shiv Nadar Univer­sity

India Today - - COVER STORY -

At Delhi Univer­sity in the early 2000s, a door opened ev­ery day. My DU stint as a lit­er­a­ture stu­dent was in­spir­ing and rev­e­la­tory for, what was un­think­able so far was thought and the un-wri­ta­ble was writ­ten. In a way, we were per­haps more lib­eral then.

Our free­dom has be­come en­dan­gered. We have reached a level where some of us are happy as­pir­ing only to a stunted ver­sion of it. We're not even fight­ing for a large-hearted and sweeping def­i­ni­tion of what 'free­dom' could be, in­stead some of us, me in­cluded per­haps, seem happy with a bon­sai free­dom in our own back­yard.

Real free­dom is. To script one's own life in ac­cor­dance to one's largest and most am­bi­tious vi­sion. Right now we're fight­ing the more ba­sic, fun­da­men­tal free­doms from fear, vi­o­lence and cen­sor­ship. Real free­dom is in­def­i­nitely post­poned.

If I had the com­plete free­dom to change some­thing, then it would be a plebiscite in Kash­mir. It's not a pop­u­lar opin­ion but we as a na­tion owe them that, po­lit­i­cally and morally.

Pho­to­graph by R

IN­DIA TCHOADNADYRDADEELEPHKIUFMAA

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