THE QUESTION IS, WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR INDIA?

Gone are the days to only expect someone else to do something — today you, yes you my friend, are called to make a change in India. The question is, will you rise up to the challenge?

 You may ask me – what can I do, I am a simple citizen of this country.

True, I tell you. True, you are just one citizen. True, there are so many problems in this country that you may think you are miniscule.

But let me tell you this – India has not needed people like you to make a change before.  And this Republic Day, such a proud day for our country – a day when we made our mark in the world map.  Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of gentlemen such as Dr Ambedkar and his team, we got our constitution and became a Republic.

Of course, we have not forgotten – but all that is history – the tales of sacrifice and service seem like a distant memory.  We are the golden generation of Indian history – living during a time when India is indeed the fastest growing economy. Today our culture, our business is spreading far and wide.

We, who live in the cities, live in this golden bubble of wealth and grandeur. Our daily discussions with our families revolve around which movie to watch, or which new restaurant to try.  We complain about the colour of paint in our homes, and save up to buy second (and third) cars.

Do we wonder about what is happening elsewhere in the country? Even in our own cities? Does anyone care? Well, these guys did.

Let’s talk about Sunitha Krishnan. And let’s talk about sex abuse and slavery. If sex slavery does not move you to tears, nothing will. Young children, girls, promised jobs in big cities, are snatched away from their parents (sometimes even sold by parents) and pushed into the prostitution business.

Sunitha Krishnan was in the news when unknown assailants vandalized her car. Why? She was protesting against a gangrape case, a clip of which went viral on social media. She was looking for the rapists, whose shameless faces were caught on camera. She appealed to the people of India to identify these men, so that action could be taken against them. Putting her own safety at risk, Sunitha singularly battles rapists, pimps and traffickers on a daily basis.

Take a look at her TED talk (Warning: Graphic images of abuse):

Now, let’s talk about climate change and rapid disappearance of forests. Can you do something about it? Well, this man did! Environment activist Jadav Payeng loved his little island in Assam so much, and was so affected when he saw the trees disappearing because of floods and deforestation, that he decided to do something about it. This man singularly spent 40 years growing trees on 440 hectares of land. Today his forest is flourishing – so much so, that the birds and animals that were long gone, are slowly returning.

Payeng was conferred with the Padma Shri award on the 25th of January 2015 in recognition of his service to society and the environment. We salute him and congratulate him for this recognition.

See his story here – it is moving to say the least:

How about sanitation – now? We keep hearing on the radio and television how the government wants to make more and more toilets, not just for the sake of sanitation and health – but also for privacy, especially for women.

There’s nothing you can do about this, you say? Let the government handle it, you say? Let me introduce you to the ‘Poop Guy’. Meet Swapnil Chaturvedi, a man who left his cushy job in the US, and returned to his country with only one mission – to build toilets for the urban poor.

See his inspiring story here:

Speaking of sanitation, all you women, having a sanitary napkin is as normal for you as sugar in your tea. You probably have one in your purse right now. But have you once stopped to think of all those women who cannot afford one – for whom a sanitary napkin is luxury? These women have to use extremely unhygienic cloth during ‘that time of the month’.

Meet Arunachalam Muruganantham, who, in a bid to impress his wife, started a revolution in India when he created a cheap sanitary napkin by himself. This sanitary napkin now is being used by thousands of women across the country.

This is his story:

Now, think to yourself, how many times have you thrown your trash out of the car, or on the side of the road. Do we stop to think about how ugly it looks, do we think of the next person who walks by and also throws some more trash, until it becomes a huge mound of trash? Then we complain that the government is not doing anything? Do we recognize that we could have been the first one to throw it?

These college kids from Mumbai decided enough was enough. They had enough of their beloved train station turning into a garbage dump. So they decided to act – themselves.

Take a look:

A true act of community service, we should be proud of these kids – who, in their act of service, inspired the people there to take up the broom and do their bit too.

And finally, let’s come back to human trafficking – THE most despicable act that can be done with human hands. Aaboo Verghese and his NGO Purnata, are working day and night, collaborating with the police, lawyers, other NGOs and rehabilitation centres, to cut this evil from its very source. As he mentions in the video below, the task can get very overwhelming most of the times, but he is determined to do his part, and we salute him for that.

This video is an eye-opener for all those who don’t know much about how trafficking takes place. Take a look:

On Tuesday, we will celebrate our glory as a country – we will celebrate our greatness – the French President Francois Hollande will be there as the chief guest and will witness the parade. All that is great – it is good to feel good about our country.

But this Republic Day, let us be burdened to do something, anything – it is time to give back to our country.

Author Bio:  Khristina Jacob, works as a Writer & Editor.