FREE INDIA: I BURNT YOUR HOUSE BECAUSE YOU BURNT MINE

Today is India’s 69th Republic Day.

69 years ago we gave ourselves the Constitution and swore to abide by it as honest, progressive and peace-loving citizens. 69 years hence we are doing everything but that.

We are now a nation that not only endures but covertly even encourages religious bigotry, self-righteous vandalism, myopic sexism and ruthless rioting. Certain sections of our citizens have learnt that the Constitution is actually a toothless tiger. Worse still, some of our countrymen believe that it exists only so that it may allow them the freedom to engage in vandalizing properties, killing their own countrymen, abusing each other’s religious sentiments, violating our men, women and children and terrorizing their own brethren over trivialities like a movie!

This anger in my writing is a reaction towards the fringe mob attack on a school bus which was conveying children to their homes. The mob was protesting the release of the controversial movie, Padmaavat, in Gurugram, India, and had preiously burnt a State Transport bus before setting eyes on the school bus. Those of you who yet do not know of the attack, please head to this link and see the horror for yourself. And those of you who want to know why there are protests over the movie Padmaavat, please click on this link.

Anger swamped me when I first saw the video on a news channel and I’m sure this is the same emotion that must have overcome you while you were watching that video through the link above. These were innocent, harmless children, some as young as 4 – 6 years old, who were heading home from school, while their bus was assaulted with stones and sticks by an unruly mob whose only reason to protest was the release of a movie that depicts a character from folklore…okay, maybe history, but that character is very much dead.

I repeat – this was a ‘moving school bus carrying children‘.

Thankfully there were no casualties, but what if there were? What if the driver got hurt while he was driving, leading to an accident… and deaths? How does attacking children resolve the issue for these rioters? Where do we draw the line between the right to protest and heedless vandalism? If you have watched the video you may have noted the newscaster’s anger and she is right in pointing out, ‘These could have been my children, these could have been your children’. But it’s not just about whose children these were. The bigger question is how do you justify attacking an alive human being over a piece of fiction?

Sometimes I feel freedom is wasted on us Indians because we don’t just misuse it, we abuse it. This is not the only case of abuse of freedom that we have seen within the last one year itself in India. The very start of the year was besmirched by the infamous mass molestation of women in Bangalore on New Year’s Eve, followed by equally shocking incidents like the inter-religious attacks over the beef ban issue, the Bhima Koregaon attack and the northern India riots over Godman Ram Rahim Singh’s rape conviction. But these are bigger transgressions in the name of freedom. How about everyday abuse of freedom – in the blatant violations of traffic rules; in our stubbornness in finding loopholes in the law; in our netas not only supporting but propagating vandalism and unlawfulness; in our ‘chalta hai‘ and ‘jugaadu‘ attitude for everything; in a person spitting or peeing on public property because he can and because there’s no one to put a check on him?

The above instances prove that we have not only no regard for the law, but also that it has become the agitated Indian’s habit to take to the streets and cause mayhem, sometimes going to the extent of drawing blood, in the name of religion, cult, culture and gender? Throughout these incidents, the Police were powerless, the governments inert while the opposition is either muckraking or fuelling the agitation.

What use is the Constitution? What use are these words contained in the Preamble:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and… FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation…

These are just words if we Indians do not internalize them and base our lives upon these ideals enshrined in the Constitution. My fellow Indians, remember, we are lucky that we have the freedom to do as we please, to go where we want, to worship who we want and to practice what we want. There are many other nations out there where freedom is not freedom in the real sense of the word; where you may be free to breathe, but death is considered a better option. Consider yourself lucky that you are born in a country where tolerance is not just an ideal but a way of life. But in your lust for freedom do not forget that you are part of a bigger thing – you are a nation. You, your beliefs and your actions are what shape your nation. The future of us, our children, will have the same beliefs as you do. Give them a better lesson than violence and intolerance.

Freedom does not mean that you do as you please. If every one of us was free to do as we pleased, we would have anarchy. Freedom comes with a responsibility – that of respecting the freedom and well-being of others. If you don’t respect the right’s of other’s, why will other’s respect your rights? If you have burnt someone’s house to the ground citing religious freedom as the reason, remember tomorrow your house could be the victim of someone else’s right to religious freedom.

Violence does not need a reason but remember that you only reap what you sow.

This Republic Day, let’s take a vow to be responsible citizens. To bring out differences and resolve them by dialogue and not violence. To practice freedom but not out of malice and indifference towards the freedom of others. To abjure inhumanity, intolerance and deviant behaviour that harms the people of this country and the ideals of our forefathers. Citizens, compatriots, this Republic Day vow to rise above your menial differences and become better human beings.

Jai Hind!

Image Source: Catchnews

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WHY DO WE MAKE THE WORLD SO UNSAFE FOR GIRLS TO LIVE A NORMAL LIFE ?

“My wife is doing good, we are very much ready to welcome our baby. Her expected date is three weeks away, I feel so tensed, don’t know how I am going to handle it… Boy or girl we are excited about the baby around which our world is going to revolve. However, I confess that having a baby girl would make me more concerned. I would really feel pressure to bring up a baby girl. Our surroundings are not safe, creches, schools, colleges, offices, not a single place makes me feel any less worried… I don’t know if I can be a responsible dad who can protect my little girl as a parent. It really does worry me….” – view point of my friend who was expecting his first child.

Well, I wouldn’t say I am surprised, I would have to give it a thought. I laid back on the couch after this conversation pondering over how I would have felt. I always am biased towards a girl child, I would just love having one. If I were to be expecting a girl, would I be more concerned than having a boy, without a doubt, the answer is “YES”. Times have changed, girls now get to study whatever they love to, can work, they grow up to be financially independent which really makes a difference to the way life is laid out before them, but the real question is, “Is it safe ?”, no-brainer, it’s “NO”.

I do commute to my work place alone.  Most of the times when I drive back home it’s already late in the evening.  Let me share what happens every day. I get a call everyday at a designated time from my parents, if I do not answer the call, they know I am still at work, my responsibility is to call them back after I am home, no matter how late it is in the night.

Once, it so happened that I wasn’t keeping well, I came home a little early, unknowingly I fell asleep. My parents tried to reach me, I didn’t even have a clue of it because my mobile phone was on silent, the next day morning I see twelve missed calls spaced in time all over the night, couple of messages, when I called them back, I heard what my dad had to say, “Where were you all night ? Do you even have an idea of what kind of thoughts hovered our minds ? This is the last time, you better call us every day after you reach home. Your call is not going to disturb us, frankly, I couldn’t sleep whole night”. This is the reality which every parent, husband, sibling go through everyday, in every home, it can be a boy or a girl, they would be concerned, more so for a girl.

I must accept that I really don’t feel safe when I am driving alone once it’s dark, well, sometimes even when it is day time. I have to be more watchful of the surroundings, every movement feels suspicious, and yes the recent increase in the trends of rapes, molestation’s, acid attacks only increased the amount of data that get’s processed in my brain when I do not have a companion. It’s unsafe !!!

If such is the situation with grown-up’s, imagine about toddlers, young girls. Instances where few month old babies are falling victims of rape, I fail to understand where are we heading. My blood boils, at that moment I cannot really hold on to my anger, how , how on earth can a fully grown up man thinks that a 3-month old girl can satisfy his senseless arousal ? 11 -month old raped for two hours, what the hell ? Wasn’t the baby crying out of pain for two hours and the man had no consideration of it ? 

Why do we make the world so unsafe for girls to live ? What was their fault ? Everyone cribs the world has to change, we make the world and are integral part of it, unless our mindsets change the world would never change. That’s far away, I understand but what can be done now?

Fear creeps in , in various forms. Let’s not have that fear subdue our emotions towards having a lovely baby girl. A child is precious, whether it is boy or a girl. If you have a baby girl, I would not suggest to scare your little one by exposing her to all the bad things that happen in the world, but please prepare her to face the adversities. Make her strong, strong enough to understand that the world isn’t safe, strong enough to fight, smart enough to report any misbehavior. As long as we tolerate, the world would make us suffer, let’s fight instead …

OF DAYS GONE BY, THOSE THAT ARE AND THOSE YET TO COME

Oftentimes our human mind is hasty to picture modernization merely in terms of technological advancements. However, the concept of modernization is much broader than that. A reflection on the emergence and development of various civilizations of the world would make us realize that each civilization that came into existence centuries later, was more advanced and modern than those preceding it. That is how we have the Stone Age giving way to the Bronze Age which in turn gave way to the Iron Age. And gradually, we are today in what can aptly be called as the Digital Age! In historical and sociological terms, the present age that we are living in today is termed as the ‘post-modern age’.

As we look back to the blissful past, there are indeed certain things that dim the illumination of this post-modern age. Today, the world is teeming with high human population; but sadly humanity is on the decline. Education opportunities are on the rise – scholarships, fellowships and educational loans are easily available now than they were in the past. However increasing knowledge base has reduced the basic levels of common sense in people – leave alone digging deep into the mines of wisdom. IQ levels have risen, but EQ levels have miserably dipped. The global job market offers numerous opportunities for people to carve a niche for themselves. With high standard jobs come high income, more facilities and less peace of mind. Many people have tasted sweet success in their careers today, than they could do in the past. But the pressure to remain successful makes life and living stressful.

Newer explorations to the space, sun, moon, Mars and other planets are being planned everyday; while people have little communication with their own family members and with their neighbours. The picture at the dinner table is increasingly becoming like this: the family members sitting around the table – a spoon in one hand and a mobile in the other, eyes fixated onto the screen! Where is the time for bonding, communication, emotional development within the family that used to be a tale to boast years down the lane?

There was a time when families lived under thatched houses or one-room apartments, but did share their joys and sorrows with each other. With increasing modernization, bigger houses with excellent amenities mark prosperity. But, with it comes the concept of individual space (which is so widely misunderstood) – a room for each member of the family, thus isolating each person to his/her own corner. Gaps in the family bonding are wide enough to give space to extra-marital relationships and conflicts among the members.

Healthcare is at its best today than it was few decades back. But giving the healthcare think tanks a tough time, are lifestyle diseases and psychological problems, which are at their peaks today than they were anytime previously. Alienation leading to depression, performance pressure giving rise to anxiety disorders and the pressure to conform to changing patterns giving rise to personality disorders.

We are increasingly developing into an impatient generation. We want things to be done instantly – no matter to whatever extent we need to go to get our ends met. The practice of delayed gratification and self-control are quickly fading into the oblivion.

We cannot travel back in time to those simple days of innocence and bliss. Time moves forward. Development is the name of the day. And we all want to taste the boons of modernization. However as we aim to fly high in the air, let’s bear in mind that dust we are and to dust we shall return. No matter what era we belong to, we need to hold the basic life values dear to the heart and pass on the same to the generation next.

 

ATTITUDE OF GIVING

This incident happened a month and half ago, that really forced me to think about attitude of giving –  Why do we give and what shall be given ?

We were in a meeting, when one of my colleagues walked in and announced that our lab technician’s mom met with an accident, had a brain injury and a huge sum is needed for her operation. Many of us donated what we can.  Few of us had been to the hospital; her condition was not very good. What happened the next day irritated me to the core.

A person who contributed only 100 Rupees(roughly 1.5 dollars), backed up his action of not being able to help saying that there is wedding of his cousin’s, came to office after spending his precious time at a parlor spending thousands of rupees. He was screaming out loud of how excited he is about the wedding while all of us were discussing about mom’s medical condition. Well, I don’t want him to be spoiling his joy but one can be more sensible.

There was no need for that person to give a reason the day before, as to why he couldn’t help, yet he did so, but why? Did he really have an intention to help? There were a couple of questions on my mind after this.

  1. Is parlor more important than saving someone’s life?
  2. If, supposedly, the same would have happened in the so called “leader-ship team”, he would have done his best to get an impression. (this happened earlier, not my speculation in anyway)

Sometimes people only help for creating false impression of being empathetic. Giving should always be done plentifully, liberally, and faithfully. It should never be carried out with a sinister design or out of respect of persons. Unfortunately, many today give out of a selfish motive, seeking to further their own influence or prosperity, many will not give unless they get some tangible gift in return. 

Believe it or not, your attitude toward giving can say a lot about you. It speaks volumes about the condition of your heart.  It determines what kind of an “eye” you have and how much you are willing do it on your own for the betterment of someone else, someone totally unrelated. Some people are born to serve, that comes naturally to them, but some are inspired by others like family, friends, community etc.

Giving should be voluntary and cheerful. It must be prompted by the heart and not by the head or human reasoning. We should not allow self-interests, pride, corrupt passions, stinginess, and greed to hinder the noble cause of giving. The fulfillment and joy of giving can make us complete. 

Why should we give ?  – It is highly satisfying to see the fruits of what we as humans can do, together we can, and we only can change this world.

What shall we give? – Anything ranging from food, shelter, service, a listening ear, time, money.. there are literally no limits or hard rules.

Attitude of giving is a life style. Don’t undermine the value of what you can do for others, even the smallest of acts can make a life turn around for better.

THE PASSIONATE LOVE OF A SAVIOUR

As I sit this Christmas Eve to pen down a few lines on this week’s topic ‘Live your Passion’, I am strongly reminded of the passion with which Jesus Christ loved mankind so as to come down to this earth in human form. The passion with which God loved and continues to love humanity cannot be described in words. It can only be felt to be believed.

It’s easy to love a friend. But, it’s very difficult to love an enemy. However, God demonstrated His passion towards humanity, by loving us while we were still enemies. The question might pop up in some minds as to how on earth is humanity in enmity with God? The answer is ‘because of sin’. Sin distorts our holy image with which the Holy God created us all. Hence, to restore us all to the pristine glory in which God intended us to be, Jesus Christ came down to offer His hand of friendship to us. So wonderful a love!

It was indeed the passionate love of Jesus that made Him leave His Heavenly abode and step down to earth to redeem mankind from the shackles of sin. That’s the true reason for celebrating Christmas!

Christmas is not merely about cakes, candles, gifts and feasting. It’s about the passionate love of a Saviour! A former atheist C.S. Lewis who experienced this passionate love of Jesus Christ later on in life describes the advent of Jesus on earth with these words – “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”

Wishing all our readers a Joyous Christmas!

  • Rajnandini Sahu