Freedom Without Food

Posted on August 16, 2010 in Politics at Play

By Amar Tejaswi:

On the night of August the 14th, I watched without intent, as the heavens poured down and washed the placid face of the earth that sprawled before me, preparing her for the day that was to follow. I kept looking at the dark earth; it rained for a long time. In the dark, the earth didn’t affect my nonchalance; at the break of dawn, I looked at her again. Her sight curled my face into a wry smile. The determined rains couldn’t wash the stains off her face; the dawn could at best reveal her scars. A sense of tragic irony, which was simmering inside me, emerged to face her. The desolate look that she wore conveyed her agony. It could mean only one thing: betrayal!

The following day seemed as ordinary as any other. Except that they called it ‘Independence Day’, and it was a public holiday! I feel it is the only reason we look forward to it. But to our despair, it fell on a Sunday.

By the time I was writing this, putting my mind in a spiral of thought, Dr. Manmohan Singh would have been addressing the nation. But I doubt if the nation was listening. I wasn’t. It is not his fault. For sixty-three years leaders have religiously followed the ritual of making promises and then breaking them. People in the cities of India don’t listen anymore, because they don’t need to. Civilization has made them affluent enough to pay heed to others. People in the rest of the country though, have to listen to the leaders. They feed on their words, for they have no food.

Our country is independent but our people are not! What good does freedom do when it comes at the cost of your stomach? Sixty-three years on, poverty is deep entrenched in the lives of half of India’s population or perhaps more. Over the years we have failed to pull people out of the chasm of poverty. Surprisingly, we have lost myriads more to it. Influential rhetoric claims that poverty is the one of the biggest threats that we face. Poverty will remain a threat as long as highly placed people perceive it to be nothing more a threat, measuring it and hiding it behind mere numbers. They must stop looking at it as a threat that can impair our global image. They have to realise that it has become a way of life which leads to agonisingly painful death. They need to walk down the lanes of poverty and hunger to actually understand the strength and the reach of its claws.

Further thought brings out a surge of anger against our apathetic politicians. The first man who comes to my mind is Mr. Sharad Pawar. His policies are the root of inflation and his inability to contain the fire has been proved time and again. Now that he has realised that inflation has turned runaway, he wants to shrug the responsibility off his shoulders (guess he has pocketed enough money to retire happily). But it is not only him; countless politicians have used public offices for personal use. A Liability Bill has been introduced to penalise disaster-causing companies, its time for a Liability Bill that penalises mercenary ministers. Non-performing ministers should be made to pay for their mistakes. Far too many have escaped, others should not be allowed to follow them. Long has Mr. Pawar fed on the hunger of the poor, it is high time that he makes up for his past, give something back to them and let their rancour recede.

Independence hasn’t brought about any difference in the lives of millions of Indians. Imperialism has made its way for ‘democratic capitalism’. The only tangible difference is that earlier the British exploited us and now our own people do it. Mere industrial progress is like painting our house on the outside while letting the insides rot. I will celebrate Independence Day only when poverty is wiped off our lands. I wish it rains that day and the dawn helps me again to have a look at her face. This time though, there won’t be any scars. But who knows if I will live to see the dawn of that great day.

The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

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