Tuesday, 14 August 2012

On the Eve of 65th Independence Day – The I-Day Demand

Even as the newly-appointed President of India gets ready to address the nation, I ask myself, what does Independence actually mean? Tomorrow is India's 65th Independence Day and a school teacher friend who has to deliver a speech during the morning assembly has sought my help. 

It is a gigantic task because personally I believe that we have lost track and value of the Independence that our elders had so assiduously coveted and snatched after years of struggle with the British rulers. This is because, straight from the Brits we were delivered to the politicians – remember two of them trussed up and carved the country between themselves like it was a Christmas turkey, while the third, blackmailed the irate population by a hunger strike – into submission! 

In the last 65 years, the politicians have turned the act of sucking the country and its people dry into a fine art. The post-independence, modern history of our country would read like a series of blunders including and not just, a self-obsessed politician’s call for Emergency that allowed the dictatorial leader and her son to send hundreds into jails and thousands to submit to forced sterilizations.

As I sit typing this blog and thinking what to mention in the five-minute speech that would motivate the students of this millennium and urge them to stay back and contribute towards taking this country to the top of the heap? I draw blank with every idea. 

After all, my generation tried - really hard, and took the country forward by leaps and bounds in the last few decades post-the opening-of-the-economy but, one look at the mess today is enough to understand what I meant by the politicians sucking everything clean. Suddenly from a strong opponent to China, we are out of reckoning. What went wrong? We had four economists at the helm for almost a decade now then what did go wrong or better still – What happened to all the money?

Lavish parks with statues of megalomaniac politicos close their gates as night falls and billions who are homeless look for a safe place to sleep under the star-lit skies, millions are spent on maintaining lavish lifestyles of the so-called leaders of the nation, when millions of children die of malnutrition and mothers of something as basic as lack of anti-tetanus injections!

Diseases like malaria, meningitis and dengue have snatched children of some close friends and all our governments are good at is in penalizing any individual who raises a voice to ask a question. And to think that something as ancient as Malaria that killed Alexander of Macedonia hundreds of years ago should have been eradicated by now!

I sometimes think – we were better off as a slave nation. At least then we could rave at the atrocities our people were suffering at foreign hands. Today, we are worse off. Our children are taken by police if they ask a question at a friendly college debate to their leader. As they are stamped terrorists, their careers will probably be ruined. A farmer asks a question to a visiting leader and he is immediately taken away by the ‘law’, a professor, shares a political cartoon on a social networking site and he is handcuffed and whisked-off. A woman complains of a rape and is immediately taken to task for being a ‘liar with loose morals’. The government at the Center ignores all these stories and decides to turn a blind eye for precious numbers at the Presidential vote – this very brand-new President will address the nation today – what should I expect from him?

There are no checks and no balances. Democracy has long been bartered for theocracy, oligarchy and even autocracy – whatever suits the style of our netas. The much-touted new breed of leaders, are the relatives and friends of the same corrupt and self-absorbed rulers who wield the baton now. Who do I vote for? There are others who pretend to be saviors but, are nothing beyond vote cutters and scum-bags who are dividing the country in the name of religion, caste, creed and even promise of more power to the people. I call them charlatans. I want good clean men and women to come up and take up the reins but, I also know that they don't stand a chance because the thugs and the mafias that make the ruling class today will not let them flourish.

I will always be thankful as a woman that the British had pushed for social reforms. If it was left to our leaders, we’d still be burning our widows at their husband’s pyre. As it is, the husbands are burning wives who refuse to bring them money in exchange of a married status. When did this start? There is no mention of dowry burning in our history pre-Independence!

And we are killing our little girls in gay abandonment and doctors are practicing feticide openly. I personally know of families who have killed more than one female fetus before the daughter-in-law could conceive and deliver a ‘son and heir’. God forbid if they ‘cannot’ conceive a boy. The consequences have been known to be equally fatal.

Then, there is honor killing and Khap Panchayats that act as parallel judges in this already ruined judicial system. Mobs ambush and rape women in front of everyone and put the blame on the girl because she was out drinking in a pub. The politicians agree with the crowd until international pressure pushes them into late action.

If a girl, ‘God forbid’ goes to the law to complain about a rape or assault case… Since I know “first hand” what happens in police stations and court rooms and do not wish to elaborate it here. If I just had to write on that, I could fill reams and scare everyone off the judicial system. Just remember that in the Mahabharata, Draupadi had Krishna protecting her – today a girl is molested every time she visits the police station and court room to seek justice – the words, the looks, the taunts that she is subjected to are all designed to make her retract than fight her case.

Ours is an agrarian economy but, we are solely dependent on the erratic Monsoons. The huge dams that were to be the ‘architects of modern India’ and built at monstrous expense of the taxpayer money have taken much more than they have given – displacing hundreds of thousands, not only humans but also endangered wildlife, causing destruction of mind-boggling magnitude through earthquakes and floods that have taken entire cities and by depleting the water tables. They have created deserts and dry lands that were once fertile fields and lush forests. Add to that the fact that, we are still struggling for electricity despite having a network of rivers that cut across the country. Oh sorry, we HAD rivers, today there are just eerie dry beds with a dirty and sluggish nullah or two carrying waste and refuse.

And, despite being an agrarian economy, our government tells us every season that we do not have enough food. Then, they increase the price of every morsel that goes into our children's mouth and let the sharks and the black marketers reap benefits, ensuring that a huge chunk finds its way into the coffers of the enablers and into party funds. And then, when people are cutting corners and budgeting to avoid starvation by month-end, will trickle news that says, that hundreds of quintals of grains had to be thrown away because there is no place in the granaries!

Education? Despite the government supposedly putting gazzalions into it – do we see any reforms? Not that I can think of or see first-hand and I’m not talking of a few select premium institutes. Again, I shall not go into education since I know too much about it. But, those of you who have children of your own would also know enough first hand yourself. As fees at public schools touch the skies and the government schools get more and more careless, we all know how we pay for our kid’s education so that we can assure for them, a better future. Finally, higher education is becoming an impossible dream even for high achievers. We’ll soon have a nation of clinically depressed young adults if we do not do anything about it.

Employment! Less said the better! Very soon we may have to revisit the climate of the sixties and the seventies if the FDIs stop flowing as the economy flounders and hick-cups.

All this then, brings me back to the I-Day speech. What do I ask those kids to do? Maybe I should borrow a quote by Swami Vivekananda who said, “Work on as if on each of you depends the entire work. Fifty centuries are looking on you; The future of India depends on you?”

Or should I just say, Independence means you have the right to choose and ask for what is your share of the pie. So, ask for better education, healthcare, environment, good food, freedom to ask a question and then get an answer not a beating from the cops. Ask for freedom, demand Independence kids because your own future depends on it!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for reading the post and commenting. Please come back for more.