(Pic courtesy : acnosite.blogspot.com via Google)
I’ve been asking myself this question for quite some time now. The gang rape incident in Delhi served to heighten it further. “Where is our country headed ?”. I’m sure lots of other people too, pretty much like me, are echoing the despair that one feels within oneself, looking at and hearing what’s happening in India now. This led me to think further. Yes, our country is steeped in a shroud of apathy, people are pretty much anaesthetized to the goings on in the country – however horrible the deeds may be.
The mindset that we see in a majority of the populace now reminded me of the movie Mangal Pandey. The attitudes, the indifference were pretty much the same. India has indeed come a long way in terms of technology and the fancy gadgets that we use to get through life everyday. During the times that India was ruled by the British, people exhibited an alarmingly similar lethargy and ennui. “What can we do ?” seemed to be a common sentiment, accompanied by a furrowing of the brows and a wringing of the hands. The same lack of interest, lack of concern seems to have manifested itself in most of India’s population today. Ask yourself this – has our mindset really changed ?
In the days of the British Raj, it took someone like Mangal Pandey to go against what was considered the norm then. It took someone like him to break the “rules” and stand up for his beliefs and what he thought should have been a choice every Indian had. He was a sepoy who turned into a revolutionary and fought for a common good – freedom from oppression.
Do you remember fighting for anything ? By anything, I do not mean the trivial fights or arguments between siblings over a toy or candy, I do not mean the arguments that take place within families for a share in the wealth, I mean a fight for common good, a fight to bring about a change of some sort in societal terms. For the life of me, I can’t remember any such. Our entire generation, possibly the generation before ours and most definitely the generation after ours – has just been going with the flow, turning with the tide, not ever stopping to think of which direction this is leading us in.
We have, as a people, becoming exceedingly self-centred, focusing just on ourselves and our well being, measuring our standing in society with yardsticks that are being blindly followed, with no rhyme or reason attached to them. With this sort of a mindset being prevalent rather widely (unfortunately !), it is not a surprise that somewhere along the way, feelings of apathy began to set in. Values and morals took the backseat because yet again, what was significant was our feelings of self-importance and our comfort zones. No one wanted to step out, no one wants to step out. Apathy ruled ! Apathy rules !
The gang rape of the 23 year old in Delhi is not something new in the country. There have been plenty of others and if things continue the way they are going, there seems no end to such heinous crimes being committed at free will, without any fear or fright over what the punishment (if at all there is any), would be. What this particular incident did was brought to the fore and set off a spark – a spark that should have been set off a long time back, if our society was to have had any home whatsoever. This incident has tipped people over, has sent people over the precipice. All of us died a bit that day when the 23 year old breathed her last. Humanity, as it had been known in the earlier ages, died.
Yes, our country needs a wake up call, it most definitely does. There is a lot of rage among the people but the worrying factor is this – once the initial rage dies down, once the fires die down, what next ? Do we just go back to our earlier comfort zones and wrap ourselves in a blanket of apathy. Do we just focus on some other issue that raises its head and leave this issue out in the cold ? Do we just go on with our lives, discussing the latest Bollywood release or the impending IPL season ?
Once fires die out, they leave behind embers. But these embers have to be stoked, the fire needs to be kept alive. Herein lies the crux of the issue. If these embers are to be kept alive, if this fire needs to be kept burning long enough to bring about winds of change, we, as a people of this populous nation, have to change. We need to work on changing our attitudes, we need to work on changing our mindsets. The edges of our minds have rusted long since, the sharpness of our actions blunted by inaction and lethargy. There needs to be a rebirth, a resurgence.
When we talk about changing our attitudes that we’ve grown comfortable with, we are then faced with an issue. What is then needed is for us to look within ourselves, to introspect deep within our minds. Once the process gets introspective, we come face to face with our inner selves and it is at this point that the precipice seems steep, unconquerable. It is when we come face to face with our Inner Self that we see ourselves for what we are, stripped of all facades and notions that we otherwise use to project ourselves to the people around us. How many of us would have the strength to “see” ourselves for what we actually are ?
Sometimes, the people of a nation join hands in rejoicing and enjoying joyful events. Yet, things, changes and revolutions that work towards a nation’s good have never been born out of joy. Its birth, its origin has always found its roots in oppression, in sorrow, in grief, in rage, in outrage and in a sense of indignation.
The Indian government surely must be hoping that the fire will die out and that the dust will settle in a few days time. For us, as a people, the only redemption will lie in carrying this on. In this instance, as the flames rage, as the chants for change grow louder and stronger, we, as a people ought not to forget. We, as a people, ought not to forgive.