On the eve of independence, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru very eloquently highlighted India’s tryst with destiny. “It is fitting that at this solemn moment, we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and the still larger cause of humanity”, said Nehru. Service to the larger cause of humanity is the crux of the matter. The question is, are we Indians really serving the larger cause of humanity?
Perhaps, we may be in an interlude with our tryst. The past 18 months have been horrendous for this country. The country witnessed one of its worst riots in the capital itself, which resulted in the killing of several innocent Delhiites. Polarization during campaigning has been made the new normal. Be it before the West Bengal elections or the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, venom has replaced promises of development. The country was even devastated by the Coronavirus Pandemic. Our hospitals were overburdened and cadavers were found floating in river Ganga, the holiest of all. Recent days have witnessed harassment of Muslims, Adivasis, Dalits by the hands of ultra-right fringe groups, who now, are so empowered that calling them “fringe” would not be fair. Otherwise, such groups would not have the courage and the audacity to call out for the blood of Indian Muslims at Jantar Mantar, under the nose of the Delhi Police. On the other hand, we have several people who have been accused of serious charges but not have been subjected to a proper trial yet.
This sad state of India is not probably what its founding fathers would have expected. Rabindranath Tagore, through his poem “Where the Mind is Fearless”, had a desire for the creation of such a nation where people would be able to speak their minds openly, where censorship would not find a place. If Tagore were to be alive today, he would have been taken aback by the allegation of the prosecutor in the JNU student Sharjeel Imam’s case where they objected to him using “As-Salamu Alaykum” as his opening words.
What can be done to make India stand to the expectations of its founding principles? First things first, we need to acknowledge that there exists a fundamental flaw within our society. That is precisely the first step towards problem-solving. We need to elect people keeping in mind our constituencies, for we are a parliamentary democracy and not a presidential one. We need to elect people who would provide solutions to major societal problems, who would ensure economic development of the area, who would ensure formal education reaches till the last child in the region, who would ensure that healthcare including developing mental healthcare institutes and hospitals are taken care of and most importantly, who would vouch for filing the voids between communities with love, for there can be no development without addressing the ever increased division among communities. We must engage with people even if we don’t necessarily agree with the latter. Ensuring proper dialogue is the way forward. But this doesn’t mean legitimising voices which call for hate or the much patriarchal voices which dictate what women should do and shouldn’t. Women need to be included in the workforce and the legislature at all costs. Indians must ensure that bloodthirsty, venom spreading fringe elements are at all costs, kept outside the realm of the society. Hate can not and must not find any place in the minds of the republic. We mustn’t let this interlude run forever.
Aditya Jha is a student pursuing Psychology from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Diptarka Chatterjee