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An Appeal To The Youth: Will You Come Stand With Me?

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By Akhil Kumar:

Hello friends,

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.

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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 up 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? Doesn’t 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 happening 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 you 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.

Thank You

You must be to comment.
  1. pande_aniket

    Yes, even my boils when I see such gruesome and agonizing acts going on… Our government is so adamant that it is not even trying to learn from past catastrophes. I know that India’s youth power is just incredible but it’s only when somebody is able to hurt the conscience as Nirbhaya was able to do… I read in the magazine that one 15 year old was raped by 16 men, then there was no such uproar because our media didn’t give it that attention. The trauma, the pain she might have went through is just unimaginable. It makes me feel outraged. Justice Verma Commission surely did a good job but why “Sex Workers” were left out. Aren’t they women? Judiciary defines them as “women’s of loose morals”. All these things are enough to outrage any mind, I suppose.

    1. Akhil Kumar

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment here Aniket. I do agree with you on the part that media plays in sensationalizing any issue. I also appreciate that you do feel indignant at injustice and will come out to join in the movement. However, i have now realized that i was looking at things from a wrong perspective, the angst was rather a manifestation of my youthful ignorance. Read the comment below to know more about how i feel now.

  2. Kavita Krishnan

    Akhil I don’t really share your sense of disappointment regarding the movement. The opposite. In hardly any movement, no matter how historic, do tens of thousands remain on the street for months on end, inevitably the high wave comes down. but it has not dried up! Instead we have seen hundreds of new people JOIN the movement, who were not in the initial December protests – students of so many DU colleges for instance who were at home in Dec. And imagine – it’s a HUGE achievement that for over two months after Dec 16, the movement remains alive and well. Comparing Feb 21 and Dec 21 and feeling disappointed that the numbers have dwindled would be the wrong way of looking at it. In fact we should be celebrating the fact that even on Feb 21, two whole months after Dec 21 at India Gate, hundreds came out and stayed the whole day to protest – the vast majority of them new to student activism. And the achievements of the movement have been tremendous – making debates over marital rape and AFSPA take centre stage, forcing the Govt to go back on many of the regressive provisions of the ordinance… And all this could be done, not on the strength of a few committed activists, but on the strength of the energy and optimism and determination of NEW young protestors. What you say about getting out and seeing the world from others’ eyes is important – but we need to remind ourselves that we didn;t open the eyes of these young people who created this movement. THEY opened our eyes – the eyes of seasoned activists – about how rape and women’s azaadi could be an issue of mass struggle! So instead of preaching to people out there, I feel for myself that I have a lot to learn from those people out there…

    1. Akhil Kumar

      Thank You for taking out the time to read and comment here comrade, your comment has given me a fresh perspective to look at this now. I am young and naive, and wanted to see everything changing at once. I now realize that I got too emotionally involved and thus the angst was rather a result of facing the harsher realities . I really appreciate how you are so patient and optimistic, i am impatient and restless and need to understand things more clearly. I have been looking at it the wrong way, indeed we went and stood with THEM not the other way round. I appreciate your patience in trying to make me understand, i look up to you and hope to learn more from your experience and knowledge. Thanks again 🙂

  3. puja pandey

    Realy i respect ur feelings and ur pain that u have expressed with ur pen……….
    Akhil i think with all these revolutions we need some social reforms. we need to change the mind of the people regarding crime against women…….
    they should not treat the victims as if they r of no use….. i wish this could happen starting from our home……
    i remember one quote from the book of Bhagat Singh , which recently i have posted recently on facebook – ” It is necessary for every person who stands for progress to criticise every tenet of old beliefs. Item by item he has to challenge the efficacy of old faith. He has to analyse and understand all the details. If after rigorous reasoning, one is led to believe in any theory of philosophy, his faith is appreciated. His reasoning may be mistaken and even fallacious. But there is chance that he will be corrected because Reason is the guiding principle of his life. But belief, I should say blind belief is disastrous. It deprives a man of his understanding power and makes him reactionary. (Why i am an athiest) “. I have a question from u will it happen?

  4. Shikha Gupta

    Well written Akhil…..I am happy to see a budding journalist in you..Fankly speaking, social changes do not can never be radical. They always come gradual. People reject it, try it, accept or reject it. But the power of youth in bringing about this social change cannot be undermined. for that you play an important role in hollering up for causes, which ultimately will pave the way to change.

  5. RAVINDRAN P

    The anguish of Akhil is understandable. Scores of peoples movement have risen and set throughout history. Even now we can see the struggles of the anti-nuclear activists in koodamkulam, Tamilnadu, the anti-posco struggle in odisha, wherein, in spite of all odds people are struggling for months together. Struggle has become a way of life there. The anti-AFSPA struggle had been taken up by Irom Sharmila almost a decade back. But we see that each of us have taken part or contributed very little in these struggles. We surely tend to have an almost “Parental” attitude towards our own struggles. Nothing wrong in it. I am a trade union activist and have understood that most of the struggles in which I have taken part was not a success in terms of settling the demands highlighted. However, each struggle has surely raised the level of consciousness of the people involved, and at the same time life was not the same after the struggle. Notwithstanding defeats, our lives had improved after the struggles. The most important effect of any struggle is the ideological impact it creates. Old ideas, hitherto impossible to dismantle, just crumbled under the heat of struggles.

    The topmost effect of the anti-rape struggle in Delhi is that it has brought the agenda of unrestricted freedom of women to the limelight. Even Obama is compelled to speak about the raped Delhi girl. It has created a huge social churning not witnessed till day in India. Parliaments & Cabinets are working overtime to address the issues raised by the heroic students and people who struggled in Delhi against not only the rape but against the very conditions which nurtures rape and discrimination against women.

    Dear Akhil, it might appear that the struggle has completed a circle and has reached the same point where it started. This is because you are looking at it only from the top. But every serious social activist looks at any struggle from all angles to understand it. When we look from the side, though it appears that the struggle has reached its starting point, it has actually reached a point at a very higher level, a spiral movement, circular but always upwards. Like while climbing a hill.

    We needn’t be satisfied with what we have achieved. but we should understand what we have achieved so as to move further.

    Then, Akhil, revolutions are not born out of the wishes of some committed people or even a very large contingent of people or classes, it is the aggregate reflection of the comprehensive necessity of the whole people.

    Don’t worry, be happy.

  6. Umika Sharma

    I completely understand and connect with your feelings because this is what i was feeling some time back. I was questioning where all those protesters disappeared? Why there are still women getting raped everyday? Being a girl myself it horrifies me to just imagine what these victims go through.

    But then, when i sit down to observe this situation more closely, the cynicism in me kind of vanishes. i know people who have filed PIL’s in our honorable courts regarding the safety of women. I know people who still discuss this situation in our society. I know people who still cry over that girl’s ordeal. I also know people who hold lectures on women empowerment.

    These are small steps towards achieving what was started a few months back. It was started by a united youth but now each of us is trying to do their individual efforts to bring about a change. Yes, the numbers have dwindled but the spirit remains.

  7. Aayush Kishan

    being a part of Indian armed forces…i have a very little right to think as free as you can…on these very touching issues,which i think are distant calls of reluctance and sheer isolation of the youth. still i have realized,we are wrapped in a self created hypothetical cover of “feel good”. i appreciate your inquisitive approach towards these issues akhil ….. good work !!

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