The article was submitted by Kudrat Dutta Chaudhary (Class of 2017). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If there is one thing that living in a 14 members joint family has taught me alongside blessing me with a routine of having regular dining table discussions about both National and International affairs, with everybody falling on different sectors of the political spectrum, it is the trait of “TOLERANCE.”
Just yesterday as my uncles, dad and I sat for breakfast and chose our loyalties about an issue regarding Motilal Nehru and his very many matrimonial relations, the heated passions on the table weren’t something new. And as the level of debate rose and names like Subhash Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru seeped into the conversation, I caught a glimpse of my grandfather’s eyes that had begun to water. Passion attract emotions and being emotional is absolutely normal when one feels extremely attached to the cause one’s advocating and the moment this logic started to make sense to me, I saw my grandfather actually shed tears in silence.
My grandfather, just like the grandparents of many of you was from Lahore (now in Pakistan), and was, in fact still is deeply inspired and motivated by Netaji Bose. The freedom struggle was the time when the entire country was working, hoping, fighting and praying for one thing, one outcome and that was the independence of India, from the clutches of the British. And it is for that idea that every Indian, or well most of the Indians were ready to do or die for the said cause. It is for that very idea of India, that people like most of our grandparents abandoned their lives at midnight, without money and security, gave up on their friends and comfort so that the conclusion of the entire fiasco of partition could be freedom.
None of us can imagine the horrors of snapping one’s fingers and be expected to use the same time, to pack our entire lives in a box and flee to a place that may or may not have the potential to make one feel at home.
I remember once quite early in the first year in the wee hours of the night, I was asked to vacate my comfortably placed ground floor room by my classmates because of some confusion that had happened regarding their room. Even though I had spent just a week in the room, I felt a sense of belonging to that little space. Who got the room and who didn’t, now thats subject to personal and discretionary revelation but nonetheless, I can’t imagine the plight of thousands of Hindus and Muslims who decided to surrender to the circumstances to foster and nurture the idea of ‘India’ that had been brewing since 1857.
“I want that there should be a temple that should be built in the name of Subhash Chandra Bose” remarked by grandfather, while he wiped his tears.
“There is a lot that is done for him” I replied rather lied to pacify him.
“He gave India what no other leader ever could. Freedom is never given it is taken” he replied.
Human beings tend to remember young times, that’s how our mind functions. We hail freedom fighters who died for our nation, we even commemorate their death anniversaries and so should be done, for we are indebted to them and shall eternally remain so. But neither of us has ever thought, of the people who were left behind, people who were massacred and were martyred continue to live in the free air we breathe and via the freedom of speech that we so ruthlessly exercise these days. But the history rarely mentions or even remotely discusses, the stories of the mortals who were left behind to witness the country even after 68 years Independence.
And believe you me what they see today, is not why they chose to be uprooted from their roots in the first place.
The reason why India has done better at least administratively and politically than Pakistan is the fact that India always garnered a vision and the electoral and societal systems that we inherited we already established and ready to use, which was not the case for Pakistan.
When the father of the nation, Dr. B.R Ambedkar argued extensively for reservations for dalits to be a part of the Constitution it was included seeing that the benefits of such a provision would only help the depressed classes in upliftment. When the Brahmanical order supporting castes was challenged by the advent and development of religions like Islam and Sikhism, many took it to be a path towards an equal society. When the idea of political spectrums was developed in India, debate for the production of ideas was taken to be the highest virtue.
But that’s the irony of India, we just can’t stick to the core of what we have, and we all love to add our own proportions of sugar and spices to evolve the ideas that suit our taste.
Starting with the issue of Dalits, being a communitarian I deeply feel that we owe them an obligation out of solidarity and hence that should be fulfilled. Reservations was a great way to start the show, but even after 68 years we see established intellectuals with a good social standing using their caste certificates to obtain admission for their children. Where this division should’ve been by now narrowed it has only seemed to grow because of obvious reasons where the initiation of ‘Creamy Layer’ means siding with Voldemort.
Believe it or not, this gap would keep growing until the so called upper castes do not realise the damage their prejudice does to the general category. The more the so called higher castes ban Shudras from accessing basic rights the more privileges the latter are bound and should enjoy. In an utopian world, where there’d be no discrimination there wouldn’t be genuine and faux victimisation of the lower castes. But the problem is that we ourselves choose to divide ourselves and then harp about the sordid position of the general category.
Religiously, Islam condemns castes, but we see people specifically in India with the surname Syyed, Naqqvis and Khan look down upon Qureshis and others. One of the main tenets of Sikhism has been a strong opposition to caste, yet we see the pride behind the curled moustaches of a Jatt diminish whenever talking about any other caste like Pappes etc.
When we talk about India either being a socialist economy based on left principles or a Capitalist economy supporting the right, we should be bothered not with which ideology wins but with the mix of which ideologies India’s growth would be ensured. The problem with us is that we ourselves segregate ourselves, divide ourselves and make the entire issue about, “US” v. “THEM” whereas we forget that we all are into this together. Whatever happens to India, each Indian is directly affected by it.
It is because of this deadly tendency that we so obliviously endorse is the main reason why the British could successfully display to the world their policy of ‘Divide and Rule.’
India is the second most populous nation in the world and with a few years, the crown of the most populous nation shall be snatched from China by our very own India. This crown, apart from being a mockery on India’s lack of sex education also sends a message that if WE all come together to sustain, improve and collectively work on the vision that our grandparents imagined, while they packed their bags and left their houses, then I believe that there is NO force in the world that can break the strength that we all have the potential to offer.
And it is when this idea of belonging to the land that gave shelter to the people whose genes that we now enjoy, who could safely harbour a progeny, is challenged then we all should know that if not checked in time, then the end is near.
Quoting Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, a quote which my grandfather often narrates, ‘Reality is, after all, too big for our frail understanding to fully comprehend. Nevertheless, we have to build our life on the theory, which contains the maximum truth. We cannot sit still because we cannot, or do not, know the Absolute Truth.’
Our grandparents and forefathers did what they could do, now its our turn to Act, like my grandfather while quoting Netaji said “Freedom is never given it is taken” and the time has come that we free ourselves from the shackles of division to unite and fight against political, societal, religious and fanatic forces which still feel that divide and rule is a 21st century doctrine.
It is time to Wake Up and pine for freedom from being divided.