When I was younger, Independence Day simply meant a day off school. A day where my mother would wake me up to listen to the Prime Minister’s early morning speech from the Red Fort. And then some of us would get together, climb to the roof and fly kites.

As India approaches its 69th year of independence, I find myself going back to my history textbooks and thinking about the nation-wide movement marked by non-violence and civil disobedience. People across age groups, belonging to different castes, classes and religious groups coming together to reclaim their freedom. I find myself wondering what this freedom signifies 68 years later. As the world’s largest democracy, what are we doing to ensure that this freedom is upheld and accessible to each of us?

12 August 2015

Volunteers show their support for free speech and Greenpeace India at India Gate, New Delhi on 5th June 2015, World Environment Day. © Vikas Kumar / Greenpeace

I don’t think I ever grasped the significance behind this freedom until last year. June 2014. A month that I don’t think anyone at Greenpeace India will ever forget. It is as if our calendars are now divided in two eras. The Greenpeace before the leaked Intelligence Bureau report hit and the post-IB report Greenpeace.

I have been working with Greenpeace India in the mobilisation team for the past two years. Everyday, I interact with people through our digital channels. Some who are behind us whole-heartedly, some who appreciate what we do but not necessarily the way we do it and some who believe that our sole purpose is to block India’s growth as taught by our foreign masters.

Suddenly, the word ‘freedom’ holds new meaning. It comes at a much heavier price. I find myself being more cautious every time I post something online. It’s become routine to do a quick risk analysis of what the repercussions could be. Will it be banned? Will my personal accounts be blocked and could I be stopped from travelling?

India has become notorious for banning things. Here are 10 things that have been banned so far. I wonder what’s going to be next.

The IB report and its aftermath has definitely made a dent. Have people left their jobs at Greenpeace? Yes. Have our campaigns suffered? Yes. Do we expect a backlash and lawsuits each time we put out a report? Yes, very much so.

Greenpeace India is a different place now. Smaller in size, a bit slower with a sense of trepidation in the air. But what the IB report has failed to do is more important…it has failed to stop us from doing what we all came together to do- stand up to environmental crimes, question those accountable and inspire people to take action.

We continue to challenge every allegation thrown our way. Our work to protect the rights of forest communities continues. As does our sustainable agriculture campaign with farmers in Bihar. We are also launching the second phase of our campaign to clean Delhi’s air and get solar powered lights on our streets.

The word democracy literally means the “rule of the people’. As citizens of the world’s largest democracy, it is our duty to speak our minds and disagree if we don’t believe in something.

And that’s exactly what we are doing! We are celebrating the importance of speaking out in order to make things better for all of us. Unless we can speak out against powerful companies, we can’t win clean air, food and water for all Indians. And at times, that may mean saying things the government does not like. We have done it before and we can do it again.

Let’s come together despite of our differences to stand up for what we believe in. Our right to freedom of speech. Our right to ensure a sustainable India for all of us. Join us here!

Navdha is a Digital Campaigner at Greenpeace India.