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Our country may have enough resources to fund a survey (NRC) but we don’t have the infrastructure to carry it out. So why don’t we focus on the issues at hand?
Dear Prime Minister
I am no politician neither a political theorist. What I am is a simple woman born in this country, whose parents and grandparents were born here. I will not go any further back in time but this makes me a natural citizen of this country.
There have been certain developments which not only bother me but have shook millions of others and brought them to the streets. This letter will be personal, sir, because what happens in my home is personal and this country is my home. Personal is political! I will put my concerns point wise.
This is an old incident when my father escaped death while rescuing a 19 year old “Muslim” girl from her in-law’s house. They had been torturing her for various reasons. A mob had collected and stones were thrown at him, one hit him on the head, too. He did not care for his life but brought the girl back to Delhi from Jaipur, and reunited her with her parents.
My father was doing his duty and didn’t discriminate on the basis of religion. We are taught from early on that good people help others. I wonder why the honourable Home Minister has been selective in his offer of help. And why the tweet that reiterated the Home Minister’s words declaring his intention to help only “Buddhas, Hindus and Sikhs” was deleted from social media?
In this case, the mob clearly was Muslim and I would have lost my father. Though, this incident did not make me hate a particular community because it tried to inflict violence on my own father. If it is all about Hindus and Muslims then hundreds of Hindu girls are killed every year- whether it is for dowry or for the honour of the family by Khap Panchayats. Not to even mention the girls who are brutally raped. And the lynchings of many Muslim men in the recent past were not committed by Muslims, Sir. One cannot generalise and identify one particular community as the perpetrators of violence and as the evil one.
Dear Sir, my heart goes out to the millions of people (Hindus), which the honourable Home Minister claims, are being persecuted in different parts of the world. Altruism is noble.
However, this help and refuge should then be available to all the countries in this region or anywhere else in the world. It shouldn’t be restricted to only three countries. If he really intends to help the persecuted minorities, we will extend all our support, and that does not require amending the constitution. But we will not accept this process of isolation and elimination.
As you know, we are the youngest democracy, Sir. I am no political analyst. If the elections were not rigged, and I believe that they weren’t. Then you must take this as a given that a majority of this same youth voted for you and your party, otherwise you wouldn’t have been elected for a second term.
The youth of this nation believed in your idea of “achhe din” and showed faith in you. They were hopeful that you and your cabinet will be able to come up with solutions for the maladies our country has been afflicted with. But the recent incidents along with continuous neglect of real issues through out your tenure have highly disappointed them. We are disappointed and we are unhappy.
A nation progresses when its citizens are educated. I belong to the middle class. And I graduated and later did my post graduation from a public university. Given my circumstances, I would never have been able to afford the fee of a private college. When it has been difficult for people like me then where do the children of poor go to gain higher education?
It is these same public universities like JNU, DU and Jamia that give them a way to rise up the social ladder. And it is these universities that enable children of chai wallahs, security guards and many others to dream and visualise.
From my experience as an Assistant Professor at the University of Delhi, I have known brilliant, aspiring students who could not afford their fee or books. But the government has been working rigorously, night and day, to take away this chance from them by cutting down on the budget for education and thus supporting privatisation of education.
I am a taxpayer and I have no qualms if this money goes into betterment the education system of my country. But I do oppose and will question when this money will be used for building statues. You too, hail from a humble background and you can understand well, the plight of the poor. It bewilders me, how can you stand mute in the face of what is happening in the country.
I am someone who recently lost her job because the institution did not require her services any further. And I am someone who couldn’t settle to sit for an interview again for a Guest post in an institution where she had been working for the past six years. A place where she was selected on the basis of merit through the usual procedure.
I chose to opt of the system but not everyone has the luxury to choose that option. And I do completely understand the ramifications of writing this on my future career but I have faith in my abilities. Even today, thousands of my ilk are worried about their jobs right under your nose, in the capital of the country. There is no job security and a letter can decide the fates of thousands converting ad hocs into guests, thereby reducing their salaries to half. This is happening in the capital of the country, we can’t imagine what kind of exploitation takes place in remote areas.
I propose a simple question, Sir. If our country has resources enough to fund a survey (NRC), which we do not even have the infrastructure to carry out flawlessly. And the veracity of which has been challenged and questioned in Assam, why aren’t those resources being used to confront the issues at hand?
More over, ours is a demographically diverse nation, the situation of northeast is not the same as mainland India. Any decision has to be taken from ground up. Coming back, according to a news report in The Hindu, our nation saw the highest unemployment rate in October 2019 since 2016.
Why not then work at creating jobs, Sir? We want jobs, we want a stable economy, we want our farmers prosperous and not being compelled to commit suicide. I am appalled by the condition of millions living under poverty and dying due to hunger, lack of health facilities, extreme weather conditions and many other reasons which I may be oblivious to. Onion was said to be the poor man’s vegetable, “agar aur kuch na mile to pyaaz se roti khalenge” used to be an old saying in my part of the country. Can the poor afford onion at rupees 200 a kilo?
I am a Hindu but shivers go down my spine at the thought of losing my identity. I am an Indian, but we do not have old documents. The older men burned the documents during a family dispute even before I was born. Who can know it better than you, Sir, what men can do when angry and bent upon something? We’ve had the examples of Babri and Godhra. You have witnessed what a group of enraged men did.
Many will say that my fear is irrational. But as I said that this country is my home and the people living in this country are “my people” irrespective of their religion, then how can I sit complacently in the comfort of my home when millions of my people live at risk?
No matter how small my voice but I will speak. Attaining this voice hasn’t been easy. It was achieved through constant resistance and struggle. This is a country where teaching girls was not the norm. History informs us that pits were dug up around girls’s schools to stop them from entering the school premises and getting themselves an education. Thus, I value the contribution of all those who fought for the education of girls; and I speak.
We have been quiet all along. This is a struggle for survival. Survival of the principles of our constitution, the principles which we stand by. And we stand united as one nation, Sir.
We the people of India have seen people come and go, nothing is permanent. We will raise our voices and we will not give up. To conclude, I quote from Rahat Indori’s popular shayari:
“जो आज साहिब-इ-मसनद है कल नहीं होंगे
किराएदार है जाती मकान थोड़ी है
सभी का खून है शामिल यहाँ की मिटटी में
किसी के बाप का हिंदुस्तान थोड़ी है?”
A version of this piece was earlier published here
Picture credits: Pexels
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Neha teaches English Language and Literature, and enjoys her time in the classroom. She's
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