S.A. Aiyar | Times of India
In August 1989, Hungary dismantled border barriers with Austria. Within days, hordes of Eastern Europeans, including 13,000 East Germans, escaped into Austria. Mass demonstrations against Communist rule erupted across Eastern Europe. To soothe public anger, the Communists opened the gates of the Berlin Wall on November 9. Within days, Berliners had chipped away and broken the Wall, amidst delirious cheering. Soon after, the Communist government fell.
Communists and socialists everywhere, including in India, were dismayed. They could not understand why East Germans blessed with income equality, free social welfare and full employment should flee to the highly unequal West, which bristled with unemployment and social perils. An answer came in a letter to a newspaper editor.
‘‘My daughter’s hamster (a pet white mouse) has food, water, shelter and even medical care, and a cage full of fun curly tubes. The hamster responds by constantly trying to chew his way to freedom. I think we all understand what freedom is, and it is not a gilded cage.’’