50 odd years ago a group of people huddled together to draft a constitution whereby every Indian that had been freed from its colonial master would be protected and given equal opportunities and access to resources. Its preamble resolved to secure for all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.
The constitution was to reflect Gandhi's vision of "…an India in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country in whose making they have an effective voice; …an India in which all communities shall leave I perfect harmony. . Woman will enjoy as the same rights as man."
On 26th January we will be celebrating our 57th republic day with the usual pomp and parade. And yet a news channel chose to herald the week with a chilling series entitled the Republic 0f Hunger.
Justice, liberty, equality , fraternity seem very empty words in a land where over 30 % of our children go to sleep hungry. And that is not all that has gone awry, every dream and aspiration enshrined in our constitution has been shattered.
If we look at the reality that surrounds us we find none of the four pillars of our constitution. there is no justice, equality, liberty or fraternity, or if there is, it is only for a chosen few. It seems we have ensured that exact opposite.
Justice is denied to the poor who enjoys no liberty, equality and least of all fraternity. They remain voiceless and subservient to a new set of masters who enjoy all the spoils. Events in the recent past have proved this more than once: be it the callous attitude of the police in the Nithari case, or the murder and rape of two poor parents looking to save an ailing child, or a little child losing her fingers for a handful of spinach.
Over the years we have perfected the art of dividing in a way that surpasses Manu. Today's India is fractured in a million pieces: we have castes within castes, and more. Our political masters ensure we do not forget this. Even children talk that language today.
50 years after our freedom for British rule, the benchmark of success remains how well you speak English and how much money you have! Instead of equality you have two distinct Indias : one that shines, and the other that lives in darkness. The lines that divides the two may look invisible but is impregnable.
60 million children do not get a square meal a day, this after 60 years of freedom. What is frightening is that no one seems to care. They become statistics that fuel new causes to espouse, numbers that will help accede to more international funds and good copy for the media.
As more programmes and projects are set up to tackle these issues, new found ways to siphon funds multiply. It is sad but true: our colonial masters have now been replaced by masters of corruption, the new found mantra that permetaes avery aspect of our existence.
60 years of indepedence and what stares at us is an India divided in two, in every which way possible. Be it education, medicare, housing or any other basic need, things are not the same depending on which side of the fence you were born.
So as we celebrate our 57th republic day, maybe one stop and reflect on the meaning of a Constitution meant for all Indians and ask ourselves what went wrong, and how we can begin to undo the torts.
Labels: two indias