Democracy takes time – progress is slow, but sure. This is what most so called ‘People’s Representatives’ would tell you as they ask for your votes and patience. Elections have turned into prolonged bouts of emotional, misleading and irrelevant name calling and blame games. The purpose of a government – which is to ‘govern’ – has been conveniently set aside to make way for relentless efforts at power grabbing and fraud. The most alarming fact is that not only are the politicians apathetic, the public is even more so.
In most countries, if over 100 children were to die due to a disease, it would be termed as a national disaster. Those accountable would be dealt with severely. In India however – the land of the carefree and patient – there is no accountability at all. The Health Minister is inept as far as the administrative aspect of things is concerned. The Bureaucrats who actually run the show are busy sending their money to one of the many tax havens or foreign banks. So, if the Minister asks for the cricket score at a press conference while these precious lives are lost, it is only fair.
At this juncture, education is just not enough. We need individuals who have the ability to think, who are guided by the desire to serve and not steal.
Long ago, a young man of a score and three years was sent to the gallows for the fear that his words, his actions could very well jeopardize the government. His thoughts worried Her Majesty’s empire so much that they pre-poned his hanging. They cut him into pieces and threw his remains into the Sutlej. They feared that his death would also bring the demise of foreign rule in India. That man was Bhagat Singh. He used to say, “ The shock waves generated by my thoughts would remain in the air, my body is just ash, does not matter if it remains or not.”
As compared to the valor of our freedom fighters, Indians have done little to help themselves domestically, whereas the role of Indian expats elsewhere is very pivotal. There is a reason behind the announcement in airplanes which deals with the use of oxygen masks during emergencies. They tell you to put them on yourself first and then help others. However, some just cannot shed their suicidal misapprehensions. Real ‘Service’ is service without the expectation of something in return.
India always showed the way to the world. Before the dawn of the Renaissance in the West, when it was still in the dark ages, it was India which dominated trade and its prosperity was coveted by one and all. This was much after the Muslim invaders who could not plunder this bountiful land even after ruling for centuries altogether. At the time of Alexander, India’s vast expanse drove the conqueror of the world away. The zeal with which Porus, the then King of modern day Punjab, defended his kingdom is well known in military annals. Thus, to say that we are poor and destitute because we were savages before the Britishers came would be a grave injustice. It is important to look within and learn about our own history.
Thus, be guided by an internal compass and you shall never be lost.
It pains me immensely to see people from the left and the right defile icons of our freedom struggle. Someone would defame Nehru, someone would do so with Gandhi. One particular case is that of Ambedkar,who the left lauds as the great reformer and yet, it casts a blind eye to what his suggestions originally were. His concern for his own people is misused and turned into a vote magnet. Reservation is a policy failure on our part. What was supposed to be a temporary arrangement continues to make its presence felt even today.
Youngsters today suffer from a complete disconnect from their own people. They are unaware of what they are sleeping on. The mass of knowledge that India possesses is unfathomable. Western thought, music, art and lifestyle is all right only when indigenous ideas are also a part of that mix. When you ignore your own past, there is nothing but destruction that awaits you in the future.
Beware, the needles shake yet again. It is time for a change. Look within while there is still time. Know that you are what the world needs the most in these tough times. Polity is but one part of the system, we also need political will. A strong political will would defeat all attempts at disturbing democratic process. There is hope, if only people think for themselves and act for others. Original thought and selfless action can emancipate the millions who suffer each day. This piece is just an attempt at rekindling the flame which struggles to grow amidst the winds of ignorance.
With the hope of change and a call for action, I rest my pen.
By Srijay Raj
Grade 12 student, Sanskriti School, New Delhi
This piece was written under our Writing Mentorship Program – June 2019.