I am compelled to write this to you by my conscience. By all the faith I have in your goodness and your faith in the higher powers that govern us, today I, a fellow citizen requests you to stop being angry. Our country is plagued by corruption, poverty, job less growth, lack of infrastructure, archaic traditions but look at the brighter side of us: we are seventy years old and the world is appreciating our efforts. We gave Gandhi to the world. We gave Bose of the Bose-Einstein effect. Our economy is stable because we work tirelessly, within the limits of our constitution to ensure that no one is harmed. We braved Partition. We shook the foundations of an industrialised nation in 1857, 1919, 1921, 1929, 1932, 1942, and once more in 1947. Stop it now, we have won. Our faults are now to be corrected by us. There is no foreign power over us now. And by that corollary, there is no politician without his voters. We have attained Swaraj. All that remains is for us to realise that Swaraj has been attained and now, we are our own masters. We are all masters of our fate who signed a contract to abide by the Constitution of India. We are no less than any country but we are not going to be jingoistic or chauvinistic about it. We should be humble. Humility of Gandhi is what impressed hardline evangelicals like Churchill. But all that is in the past now. The struggle for freedom is over. The struggle for determination of the perfect social contract remains. But can that struggle of determination for a perfect social contract be achieved by violence? Can it be achieved by divisions?
We stand blessed by universal adult franchise- right to vote for each individual. Did you know that only men with property were allowed to vote at first around the world? We are blessed by Fundamental rights- it is time to expand their scope now. We are blessed with an air tight economic system. An economic system that needs us now. It’s air tight because when the world sneezes, India does not catch a cold. But now, there is a global storm of protectionism and we need to brave it. We are blessed with a people so diverse in culture, language, religion, faith, dialects. We are blessed by a terrain so varied that we can strive towards self-sustenance, the policy of Swadeshi derived from import substitution, and hope to achieve it. Our unity is our biggest strength.
Time and again in history there have been divisive forces. Some divided us on race, some on religion, some on education and some on ownership of land. It is us who have stood United. We have beaten such forces innovating, struggling, fighting and yet keeping our faith in humanity intact. Let me tell you a little story. A man saw war. He vowed to never let another living being die again. One day, he met a creature who genuinely believed that he was much superior in genes than any other. This creature also believed that he had the best culture. His culture was the one humanity should abide by. Our old man was perplexed. He found a gun and walked into the office of this creature. The creature asked, “how are you different than me if you kill me?” Our old man remained silent. He said, “cowardice is dearer to me than your death. But everyone deserves a chance to live and I am not going to let you snatch it away from other living beings. It is not your choice to make.” The creature lived to see another day. Our old man arranged for a televised debate between himself and the creature. The only question the old an asked was, “how do you propose to get rid of the inferior people?” The creature replied, “by reforming them. They will have a choice to conform and accept the laws I make because their laws are archaic.”
The old man replied, “son, I am an unimportant man. I could never be a leader. Today, I ask you, do your laws permit dictation of morality? How do you decide if something is bad or good in moral terms? You have taken everything away from a billion people. You have taken their money, their resources, their land, their air, their water, their sunlight and forced them to sell themselves as machines. You have endeavoured to domesticate them. Does your morality permit domestication of human beings? Do you really believe that human reason, intellect is so weak that you have to pass laws to dictate morality?”
The creature could not respond. The old man got up and hugged the creature. He said nothing but, “I forgive you”.
Which culture do we hold dear? The one that was passed down through generations or the one that moves with time? Why do we want to go back to the past? Can anyone prove India has one national identity? India has many nationalities. She has overlapping identities. Why should she then be forced to wear one national identity? Why has the youth stopped asking questions? Why have we not boycotted the media that is captured? Why have we not asked the trillion rupee question: what is our stake in a democratic society? Is it only our religion? Is it only our caste? Is it only our loyalty to one man? Is it only one political party? Why are we trying to move backwards in time?
There has been no notorious war in our time. The ones that are being fought don’t have our active participation but tacit consent. But the consent exists only because we are not watching the things we hold dear perish. Why don’t we hold the things that are perishing in war dear? Who is the war pleasing? Do we have no purpose in life? Such purpose that allows us to become so weak so as to find solace in violence! I request you to rise above it. I request you to be Indians, the humble yet tactful people of the subcontinent. The people for whom knowledge is supreme. And that is our culture. The people who did not let politics affect their fundamental ethics. You and I are the solution to every problem. There is no messiah. There never was. And there never will be. You and I are the messiahs. Vow to never be selfish enough to let another living being perish because there is no glory in war but only tears. Your constitution has given you a fundamental duty to abide by, “you shall abjure from violence” . Fulfil it. You and I together, with our skills, our efforts will make India the paradise the world shall look up to. The messiahs and shamans have looted us.
And should I let you in on a little secret? Your anger is the rebellion of your mind. You are important. Listen to your mind and heart. They are the ones guiding you in the right direction. They are asking the right questions. Do not ignore them. These questions are the solutions to our problems. These questions need to be asked to each other, to the society by the society. We have given enough chances to our leaders, shamans, messiahs and self-proclaimed harbingers of golden eras. Shall we give each other a chance now? Keep this little quote by Bertrand Russell in mind, always, “I would never die for my beliefs. I could be wrong.”