The recently released movie, “Newton” has once again, raised the issue of social and political inclusion. Newton, a presiding officer in the conflict-ridden jungles of Chhattisgarh, tried to achieve something not unusual, but something which should be the norm in a democracy.
Now, what moved me more, was the kind of exclusion that the backward and poor tribal communities residing in the area were facing. When Newton tried to explain the importance of elections to them, they were blank. And surely, the reason behind this was the lack of development in that area. There were no roads, people lived in mud houses that were burnt, naked children all around, no means of communication, etc.
When a journalist asked a young tribal person,“How would an election change your life?” He replied, “Kuch nahi badlega (Nothing will change).”
This proved the perceived negligence of that community. They had never witnessed an election before nor did they know what a ballot machine was. They didn’t recognise political party symbols, they did not know the candidates.
An elderly person even stood up and asked, “Tendu ka sahi daam kaun dega? (Who will give the right price for tendu leaves?)”
This points at the hardships of their lives, they were not even entitled to their own rights. Totally unaware of the world outside, they just cared about the price they deserve for something that is their livelihood.
Next, I would like to talk about Newton who was the odd one out in a so-called normal world. He was a reserved candidate who was chosen when the working one denied doing his duty in the Naxal affected jungle. He was honest and his honesty was something which was treated like an abnormal quality.
The assistant commandant in the area warned him several times and even tried to convince him to conduct a fake election, but Newton was determined. He faced many obstacles during the whole process, but never felt disheartened. The people who were on duty with him even made fun of him for being so punctual and fair. He did what he could.
Some last minutes of the movie were good and questioned the society. After that, many people were sympathetic towards the tribals and appreciated Newton’s spirit. Many of them also blamed the government. But why?
We have policymakers, we have a Constitution and we have the law. Now what? Where are we lacking? My answer to all these questions is us. Newton was not a politician, neither was he a bureaucrat at the topmost level. He was a common man, who just wanted to do his duty. What does it take? I don’t know but it really pays to the society. Being a politician or a top-level bureaucrat is not the only way to serve society. One can help by doing simple things like switching off extra tube lights, by not throwing a banana peel on the road, by being a helping hand to the elderly crossing a road, and many more ways.