A quick glance at the supposed “glorious” culture and history of India yields nothing but a simplistic opinion to today’s populous. Pick up any book, any year and we notice this; We fought for something, and our opponents( under the veil of secrecy) gave it to us, we rejoiced and discovered that we were deceived.
Today, I was re-reading my copy of Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger and came across certain lines which put me in a fix, making me write this article and also make the video attached alongside. I don’t remember the lines to the exact punctuation, however in essence they talk about how democracy was nothing but a shrouded opportunity for India(metaphorical assumed as a Zoo) to be turned into a Jungle by the powerful. partly I agree to the viewpoint. Mr.Adiga made an excellent note about how our nation should have had alleviated problems such as water supply issues, poverty etc. and then focused on Democracy.
Anyway,my point is that we have lived for nearly two millenniums under force. May it be an emperor or a federation of states, India has nearly never had a full scale democracy except from 1947; We were oppressed, we were labelled, we were killed, we were tortured. We fought, we protested and tried to hit back. But two points remain:
1. We still fight.
2.We still endure.
Bolne mein hum sab aage hain;par jab road pe kisiko bematlab maarte hain, we turn into silent spectators, ENDURING everything. But the time has come for a Change. We stop enduring and we change.
You may think that, okay another person crying about change and getting passionate. Who will bring the change?What will be the change?
Change as I define it is that we stand up to whatever we want,whenever we want. Don’t promise anyone anything that you will alleviate poverty or blah blah blah. Nothing of that sort. But promise yourself that you will stand up to what’s wrong; it may be standing up to your milkman for mixing water in the milk or it may be standing up to your local MLA and telling him on his face “Tu Paise Khata Hai!”. But do stand up.
Democracy is based on the principle of forming a government “of the people, for the people and by the people”. So when a nation of the people stops being for them, one of democracy’s fundamental principles itself is challenged.
Corruption is the very threat itself which has nearly destroyed India’s government and has tarnished a fake image of being a nation which is clean right down till its roots. Corruption always was a part of our system, right from our independence in 1947 up to the recent events, always existing in varied forms. It has become one of those things which are taught to us as fundamentals of life.”Corruption toh sab maa ke paet se sikh kar aate hain” is one way of putting it; because it is something which is profoundly true because may it be bribing traffic officers as a child for avoiding underage driving or giving ‘gifts’ to ministers for building approvals, we have made corruption an innate attribute. Recent events such as the CWG games scam (courtesy Suresh Kalmadi) , 2G spectrum scam(a certain A Raja) and of course the Jan Lokpal Movement led by Anna Hazare has brought this elusive tyranny to the limelight.
A national poll reveals that nearly 73% of India’s adult population was forced to give bribes to ensure the smooth passage of their tasks. So the question arises is this: How do we stop this menace? How do we eradicate something that is today running through our blood? Can it really be stopped or will it just be hidden behind a new mechanism?
Although passion is a helpful thing, it is not enough. Because if it would have been enough, I would have been a Steve Jobs-cum-Dan Brown figure in society because that’s my passion. I believe that although further reforms will help us in solving ridding our nation of this problem but the same can be achieved by proper exercise and awareness with regard to existing mechanisms such as the Right To Information Act (RTI), reporting bribe demanding authorities to the Anti Corruption Bureau etc. This will not only be highly practical when compared to a new mechanism but viable also. But then there also arises the issue that nobody uses them thus a monitoring body is required. But imagine this: India is a nation with a huge population. Imagine what would happen if each one of us reported at least one corrupt officers? I would like to end by modifying Mr. Obama’s popular slogan,” Together We Can!”
I was standing at Andheri station, awaiting my train when the latest issue of “The Week” caught my eye. The cover story was one covering Mr.Ajeet Singh,a great social activist who is working on the elimination of child prostitution. However, this article is not about him but rather about something he said.”Nobody Wants A Bhagat Singh In Their Home!”. This statement really intrigued me to no extent. Being born and brought up in an urban environment and a modern family, I have never faced any form of restrictions in helping people out. But Mr. Singh’s statement has cruelly revealed the so called “pedestrian population” of India. It is the face of India which is still grovelling in the dirt of myths, baseless culture, illiteracy, gender bias and caste based discrimination. It saddens me to say that our nation which is bustling with an ever increasing populous is burdened by outdated and redundant social customs which leaves us at a total blockade in terms of growth. Although the remarkable anti corruption programmes in recent times have definitely taken a step in the required positive direction, our minstrels will always be shackled to the sands of time due to the stubborn will of our nation to stick to old traditions. So the question arises, “How Can We Change?”.I say we do so by changing ourselves and the ones near us. Let’s have the courage to stand up and say what is right or wrong. It may be something as trivial as asking your parents not to hire a house help who is underage or may be protesting the arrest of an innocent citizen who is just fighting for his rights. The magnitude of our involvement does not matter. People may mock us and cite the contrary but in fact the truth as I believe it is, can be explained by a small event from the life of our ex-president, Dr.A.P.J Abdul Kalam.
As all of us know, he loved children and always will. I always keep a track of his events and speeches because he is one of those few people who really inspire me from the bottom of my heart. Anyway, at a school event in Ahemdabad, a cocky seventeen year old smugly asked him,” Sir, as a student all my time is gone in either studies or running errands. When you say I should plant trees, do you suggest I stop studies or running errands for my parents?”Dr.Kalam smiled and replied “Son, what do you do when you want to relax?”Taken aback by this sudden change in the subject, the boy replied, “I go for walks with my friends.”Broadening his smile, he said “Then, my son you just need to do one thing: Carry a handful of seeds and drop them near any area which you wish to see as green.”Dismayed, the boy quickly replied, “But Sir, how will I water them, fertilise them or take care of them?”.Dr.Kalam solemnly replied, “Leave that to nature. If you plant 50 seeds, at least 5 will grow naturally! You will know that you have done your bit at least!”This simple hypothesis is what I apply to my life. Let’s all do our bit and more if we can to see a better society.
Let me end with one of my own personal experiences. Once a pair of old uncles from my community had come over and coincidently it was when Anna Hazare ji was fasting for the Jan Lokpal Bill. Just before departing, the topic of discussion was corruption (inevitably).At the door one of them said, “Corruption ka kuch bhi bolo sikhate toh hum hi hain na ghar pe(call corruption whatever you want, but at the end of the day, it’s we who teach it at home!)”.I said nothing but just before I shut the door, I proudly said, “Uncle jo bhi ho,mere mummy-papa ne toh kabhi nahin sikhaya(Uncle, whatever it may be, my parents never taught me that)” and slammed the door.