THE DREAM OF A FREE CITIZEN

The dream to tread on the free soil of their beloved motherland was a dream left unfulfilled for the countless named and unnamed martyrs of India’s freedom struggle. Long nights of intensive strategising, violent and non-violent protests, famous slogans like ‘Go back Simon’, ‘Quit India’, ‘Give me blood and I will give you freedom’, boycotts and satyagrahas, non-cooperation movements and Round Table Conferences finally gave way to the jubilation of independence. The epic speech of the first Prime Minister of independent India, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in the Parliament on the eve of India’s independence towards midnight, as the hour hand and the minute hand shook hands to welcome 15th August, 1947 began thus –

“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom…..”

What a joyous moment it would have been for those involved in the freedom struggle to breathe the air of their free motherland!!

Today, as we celebrate the 71st Independence Day, we have indeed come a long way. The freedom to emphatically run across the length and breadth of this independent nation with one’s head held high has been long realised. The freedom to own property, the freedom to sow and to reap, the freedom to manufacture, the freedom to buy and sell – has put India among the mighty nations of the world.

From a shattered economy, today India finds its name resounding along with the topic economies of the world. From widespread illiteracy to a decent 74.04% (as in 2016) of literacy of a diverse population amidst various stigmas to education, is no less a feat. The development from crippled industries and roadways to world-class industrial establishments and posh highways, is yet another achievement worth celebrating. From the years of famine and agricultural disappointments to the era of Genetic Engineering and numerous Food Revolutions, the progress sure deserves applause. Speak of Science and Technology we have the likes of Mangalyaan and the Chandrayaan to boast of.

The India echoed in the national song is truly an India witnessed today by the present generations – ‘Sujalam suphalam malayaja sheetalam Shasyashyamalam’

“Yet the turning point is past, and history begins anew for us, the history which we shall live and act and others will write about. A new star rises, the star of freedom in the east, a new hope comes into being, a vision long cherished materializes.” – said Pt. Nehru in his speech to the nation seven decades ago. 

As the star of freedom rose, Indians celebrated the independence from foreign rule. No longer were they subjects under Dominion rule. No longer were their wings clipped down. No longer were sons and daughters required to be martyrs. It was the time of self-rule. With their loins girded, the intellectual think-tanks set to give to Indians the exclusive rights of citizenship. The new found freedom was indeed a prized possession earned with much sweat and blood.

“May the star never set and that hope never be betrayed by.” – remarked Jawaharlal Nehru in his address to the nation that significant night. 

The India of today, is a great example of unity in diversity. Diverse languages, religions and ethnicities have made India what it is.

But, the heart sinks as one witnesses the numerous threats to this hard-earned freedom!

The freedom that was reaped by a largely non-violent struggle is subject to vagaries of untold violence in the names of caste, sex, religion and ethnicity. The freedom of speech and expression provisioned by the Constitution has started being stifled to the extent of being silenced forever. The freedom to ‘profess, practice and preach’ the religion of one’s choice is being brought under the hammer with a heavy hand.

The unique blend that makes up India is under the threat of distortion in the pretext of Indianisation.

Social, economic and scientific development never happens overnight, and India is marching ahead in all these aspects. The future is indeed prosperous for this nation. No doubt about it!

But, what about the soul of India?

“We shall never allow that torch of freedom to be blown out, however high the wind or stormy the tempest.” said Nehru in his speech that night.

However, as the days go by it seems that the torch of freedom is on its way to being blown out – this time not by foreign rule, but by self-rule. The fetters that bind and the guns that shoot, the hatred that boils the blood and claims the lives of innocents, the hands that discriminate and strangle the underprivileged – belong to the high and mighty fellow citizens.

Was it for this type of a free nation that precious lives were sacrificed years ago? Where are the lofty ideals of:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation

We have so developed a ‘chalta hai’ attitude for everything that happens around us that misgivings don’t seem to be misgivings any more. Corruption? It happens every where! Domestic violence? What’s new in that! Hatred for neighbouring countries? That’s how it has always been! Dominance of the upper caste? That’s the societal norm!

The soul screams – ‘When will man respect man as man?’

Till we have fixated identities of sex, caste, religion, ethnicity, language and economic status of the people living around us, our perception will never be free. The shackles of intolerance, ignorance and apathy need to be broken down so as to be replaced with tolerance, awareness and compassion.

Not that these fetters are unique to free India alone, but the heart-cry of an emancipated soul is to see one’s nation soar high and high way – above the rest – to see the tricolour fluttering high in the breezy sky. As Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore penned –

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Yes, into that heaven of freedom, let India awake.

Jai Hind.

 

 

 

IS THE MOB JUSTICE JUSTIFIED?

Hello Everyone,

Recently I saw a news clipping which brought forth the news of a mentally ill woman lynched to death by village people on the basis of suspicion that she has kidnapped a child. I emphasize on the word “suspicion“.  There was no proof whatsoever.

This is not something out of the blue.  Such lynchings have become more or less a routine.  People get killed by the mob because of their eating preferences (read beef), their religious beliefs, their voice being voiced (example: a young auto driver killed because he asked two men not to urinate in public, Reference: Times of India news site).

Reason behind this brutality:  Being hurt!  Yes people get brutalised by people because the later set of crowd gets hurt, I mean  when their religious sentiment gets hurt they don the robe of anger;  when their ego gets hurt on being pointed out they let their emotion flow with the blood of innocents.  And suspicion plays a pivotal role in such atrocities. People are losing their confidence in the slow judicial system; patience is pedestal.  Under such circumstances a slightest streak of provocation leads to news headlines for the next day which says “Mob lynched…..”.

Saddening part is that the ire of mob vanishes without a trace when it actually matters.  When a girl gets molested or eve-teased or a defenseless is being troubled in full public glare no one bothers to raise a voice because everyone is worried about the fury of few preparators of the crime.  But they forget if few can be powerful then how much more power they collectively as a mob would have.  If suspicion can motivate a mob to kill someone then why not a mob be motivated enough to take a right decision to oppose something which is evidently wrong and something not based on suspicion or instigation. Note: opposing doesn’t mean killing here.

My question:  I understand very well how sentimental one can be when it comes to sensitive issues like religion especially in a country like India but agitation based on clueless accusations leading to brutality can leave a family devastated and sobbing for life.  What if there is a fallout of the very base of suspicion that led to the fury.  Can lives be given back?  And why no one is feared of law and order and thinks twice before taking it into own hands.   Is it the failure of governance that they are assured of the mob power.  How justified is it?

As my friend Kuljeet mentioned  two days ago in her article “Salad Bowl Folks!” we have many more issues to deal with  collectively rather than passing verdicts in a fit of rage under the disguise of “Mob”.

BE ‘JUST’ WITH LOVE

A couple of days back, a colleague of mine fell victim to a purse-snatcher. She lost her mobile phone, tab, internet dongle, wallet with a lot of money and some other things – all of which were in her handbag. Her handbag was grabbed by bikers while she was returning from work in an auto rickshaw in the afternoon. Shaken by the incident, she approached the nearest Police Station to lodge an FIR. To her utter dismay, the police personnel hardly bothered and she was made to wait for a long time for no good reason before she approached them and requested them to lodge the complaint soon as she had to return home to her little child. Finally, a complaint was lodged and she was told that this was not the complete FIR and that some other details would be taken in the coming days, before the FIR was formally lodged. As she narrated the incident, she made the statement, “I don’t expect any justice from this system.”

A friend of mine who is currently pursuing Ph.D from a University in North India shared several stories of how upper caste male professors sexually exploited the lower caste female researchers who were pursuing their Ph.D under them. Is this just?

In many Indian homes, the boy child gets to study in an English medium private school, whereas the girl child has to be satisfied with being educated in a vernacular language government school. The boy child gets a major share in the goodies, whereas the girl child has to be satisfied with the crumbs. I heard a lady say a few years back that her brother (who was the youngest among the siblings) was given non-vegetarian food everyday – at least an egg, while the two elder sisters were contented with vegetarian food. The sisters didn’t mind it at all, as it had been ingrained in their minds that a boy ought to have better nourishment than girls! Is this just?

As we look around and see injustice in various forms, the question that arises is – “Where is justice?” The idea of justice has been badly mutilated by prejudices, preconceived notions, stereotypes, cultural biases, parochialism and a lackadaisical attitude not only by those in power but also by the common man. And no, it is not always the poor who are at the receiving end of injustice, but those with the ‘means’ and the ‘contacts’ also face injustice in various forms.

It makes one squirm in helplessness to see outrageous atrocities being perpetrated in the name of religion, caste, race, ethnicity and gender. Is it a sin to belong to a particular religion? Is it a sin to belong to the lower caste? Is it a sin to belong to a particular race or ethnicity? Is it a sin to be born a female? The so-called makers and guardians of justice quote religious scriptures and ancient legendary accounts to justify their acts of horrendous injustice without any guilt or regret?

Lives are lost. Families are broken. Society is in utter chaos. There is hatred spreading everywhere. Emotions are converted into numbness. Who cares? Ideology, honour, prestige, selfish interests gain predominance over and above all other things. Those with might, think that they are right.

Are stricter legal reforms, the answer to the prevailing injustice? Would sentencing the perpetrators to jail, put an end to various forms of injustice?

Hardly!

What is needed is ‘awareness’. Awareness that all human beings have been created in the image of God – irrespective of race, colour, gender, religion, caste or creed. Believe for a moment that the colleague sitting next to you, your domestic help, the vegetable vendor, that neighbour from another religion/caste/race have all been created in the likeness and image of the Almighty God. Would you still dare to be unjust towards them?

The diversity among human beings ought to be a reason for celebration and not discrimination and injustice. Have you ever pondered over the fact that the billions of people on the face of this earth are so unique? All normal human beings have a pair of eyes, ears, hands, legs, a nose and a mouth – yet each person looks and behaves so different from the other. Isn’t it amazing? The differences among us give us the opportunity to marvel at the creative potential of the Creator God. When that is learnt all is learnt!

Knowing well that some of his handmade human beings are perpetrators of injustice, God still deals with them with love – so that they would turn from their unjust ways. He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust’. It’s a mystery to fathom the love of God, but a necessary realization to abhor injustice. God is patient and kind to all now, but won’t remain so forever.

Every unrepentant injustice will be brought to just judgement. If you have been a victim of injustice and there seems to be no hope for you to get justice while on earth, remember GOD IS JUST. His justice is not always meted at our time and in our way. But, always comes to pass – without fail. If you have been the perpetrator of injustice in any form, small or big – whether in your family or on a larger scale, it is a humble plea to repent and turn back on your ways before God deals with you with a heavy hand.

Let the numerous sagas of injustice turn into remarkable examples of justice!