By Akhil Kumar:
I write to you today with the hope that you will spare me a few moments of your precious time to question our ingrained beliefs in everything. We are the future and it is essential for us to keep the critical faculties of our mind open to question everything. Most of our beliefs are not entirely our own but what was imposed on us by continuous social conditioning right from our birth and thus it needs serious reconsideration. We did not choose our God and religion but the concept was force fed to us in our formative years of childhood, we were not born with prejudices but learned to discriminate by following the people around us. We did not learn most things by critical examination or self-education but by a generalized popular belief that was always held above the realms of doubt.
I have stressed on the importance of self-education and critical thinking as it empowers us to effectively fight for our rights and bring about radical social change. Most of us are outraged at all the injustice that we see and that anger drives us to think of an alternate to the disastrous system that we are a part of, the tragedy, though, is that the questions are also held firmly within a boundary. We are afraid to disturb the system, a patch here and there to fix is ok but a resurrection is something we do not dare to think of. We have been led to believe that the system has been damaged and that some reforms is all we need, what we fail to see is that the system is not damaged but has been built this way and a revolution is what we need. The ruling class will always have secret exits and no amount of reforms can do them any harm, they can easily escape the law as they have turned the system into a labyrinth. The common people will be fooled, left confused and suppressed easily.
I’ll give you an example of arguably the most massive protests in the history of independent India that rocked the capital this winter; I was there every single day to protest, to learn and to observe. While I was amazed and mesmerized at the sight of so many people coming out to protest, I would like to point out why all of their effort is going to waste. When the movement was going on, there was great zeal and vigour; people braved lathi charge, tear gas and water cannons to demand justice and a better law for rape cases. I saw people who stood there the whole day and at nights, most of them couldn’t even eat or drink anything and had to withstand the chill. I was happy and hopeful that the people have finally woken up to assert their rights, the movement was successful as the government set up the Justice Verma Committee, we were happy as we thought we would be able to send in our suggestion and a law would be made accordingly. The movement died down, people returned to their homes with an illusory self-righteous feeling of finally having made a difference, and got busy with their daily lives.
A month of Facebook posts, protest pictures and rebellious tweets followed; the Justice Verma Committee recommendations were then released. All of us were quite satisfied as it covered most of our basic demands. What happened next is what has led me to write this article. The government bluntly dismissed the key demands made by people; I was furious, I prepared myself for more violent protests as our government is in a habit of beating upÂ people before listening to them. People organised to condemn the government’s move to fool people with the eyewash that the ordinance was but not even 5% of the people who protested a month back turned up to protest again.
What happened to the determination and anger? All of that was for nothing? Are we so gullible that we let the mainstream media and the government to coax us into an unacceptable resignation?Â Doesn’tÂ your blood boil at the thought of having to beg your own government to grant you basic human rights and security? Does it not disgust you that the state is trying to protect the rapists and our women are beaten up when they try to demand equality and justice? Why is one rape different from others? The rapes did not stop, why did we?
Friends, I come to you with these questions for I still believe in the power of our ‘collective’ self and want you to retrospect a little. If we start a movement, we need to see it through till the end. What is the point of heroic displays of rebellion if you don’t believe in the cause? I am not a perfect being but I try to battle my personal hypocrisies and stand for what I believe in. We are all in this together, how can you see so much wrong happeningÂ around you and stay silent? I urge you my friends to look beyond your own selves and try to make this world a better place for all of us. I urge you to come out in protests again and again if need be. We are only outraged when we suffer a personal tragedy or if something terrible happens in our geographical or emotional proximity. Even if it breaks your heart into a million pieces, you should have a renewed vigor and be more resolved to change what youÂ can so that it does not happen to anyone, ever again.
You should feel exactly the same for the innumerable victims that suffer in anonymity as you feel for you own family. There should be no difference at all. Most nights i just sit alone and weep profusely, i can feel the pain of all the suffering people. All of them are my family, all of you are; will you come stand by me and we can learn from one another? Most people just choose to look the other way and convince themselves that it’s all ok, that things will be better. All the academic success, job promotions or the lavish salaries mean nothing if you cannot fight for your fellow human beings.
I had a long discussion with a friend on this and she said “See, the fact that you are so passionate about what you do is something that is commendable. Most people have not been out there and witnessed the pain that others go through in order to change things for the benefit of THESE very people ( I am one of them, so I should not be talking much)
You have been there and done that, so it is obvious that you will understand the reality best.”
Have we become so engrossed in our personal lives that we do not bother to share other’s sufferings? I urge you to go out, observe your surroundings, interact with people and stand for what you believe in. Try to understand the suffering of others and help in any way you can. I hope you will forgive me if I came across as a snob, I tend to get a little carried away I am told.