the faceless Indian

The parliamentary debate on the confidence motion trust was a gloomy moment for all self respecting Indians. I will not delve into the matter as enough has and is being said. I followed bits and pieces of the day long saga with dismay, horror and immense sadness. Less said is better. I simply chose to mention a brave speech, that of Rahul Gandhi and who was heck;ed all the way.

Again I am not one who condones nepotism and dynasties nor am I a sycophant. What got my attention in this speech was the fact that perhaps it was the only one that referred to the other India in a humane and real way. When RG spoke of Kalawati, he gave a voice to the hundred of millions of faceless and voiceless Indians.

There are Kalawatis everywhere. People who live a hand-to-mouth existence in a land that is becoming more and more indifferent to their needs.They pass by us so quietly that we never see let alone acknowledge them. Yet many are the warp of our very existence. And even if they do not impact us directly they are the lifeline of those who make our lives more comfortable. I am talking about the man who sells hot food to the construction worker, the man who sells handkerchiefs, socks, and cheap ware on road sides, the one who sells plastic toys a father will take back to his child at the end of a long day.

Imagine the plight of such people as they set off every morning, weather notwithstanding, with their bundle, or cart not knowing whether they will be able to bring back sufficient money to feed the family for the next 24 hours. No one buys kerchiefs or head scarves every day! And every day the same amount of rupees buy much less food. Every week we make the appropriate sounds of dismay as we are hear the new inflation figures on our slick TVs in the comfort of our air conditioned room. Yet the size of our weekly basket barely suffers. For the Kalawatis across India the story is different and it is time that we took notice. I guess that is what RG wanted to do. But did we? Or should I say did those that matter notice. We all know the answer. they were too busy playing to the world gallery and bringing shame to each one of us.

I do not know whether the nuclear deal is good or not. I do not know whether RG's speech was a clever political gimmick or one from the heart. I only know that it brought to the fore the reality of millions of our own country mates. I wonder how many of us can even begin to imagine what such a life means. I must admit that I too was one of those living in absolute denial. Pwhy changed all that.

I see the how inflation and price rise affects the common Indian in the lunch boxes of children everyday. I see it in the eyes of a child burning with fever who was not taken to the doctor for want of money. I see it in the backs that seem more bent and the gaits that have lost their spring. Can you imagine what goes on in the mind of a woman as she waits outside her home late in the evening, her kitchen fire cold, her vessels empty and her children hungry, waiting for her husband to come back with the the handful of rupees that will buy a meal and praying furiously that he does not stop by the watering hole. There are many such women and they live but a few stones throw away from us.

Have we all lost our conscience, or have we simply lost our ability to feel. Are we so lost in hubris that we are unable to see what is happening around us. I do not know. I just feel here is something terribly wrong. In all the hullabaloo of the parliament tamasha I just heard the silent deafeaning voice of Kalawati