Once again bomb blasts happened in Mumbai about a month ago. Yet the very next day, people were back on the roads, braving the heavy rains, crowded trains and their own fears. We Mumbaikars seem to have gotten so used to these things that our reactions to some of these events are bordering on the numbness. Politicians and Journalists are quick to attach adjectives such as bravery, resilience and like to the Mumbaikar. Is it really resilience or bravery? In the daily struggle to earn an honest living and support the family, an average Mumbaikar is just too pre-occupied in his/ her own daily routine and struggles, to be too worried about these external threats. The worries of rising prices, rents, monthly bills, water cuts, bad traffic and so on are just so overwhelming that there is little time left to worry about terrorist threats. All that we do is heave a sigh of relief knowing that self and near and dear ones are alive and kicking after that bomb blast.
This is numbness to the situation - no doubt. It however is an "Uncomfortable Numbness". To quote the protagonist common man from the movie "Wednesday" - "We are resilient by force and not by choice". The title of this article had struck me the very next day after the blasts but what am I going to write about this topic was my question.
My question answered itself today. We are not completely numb, we do feel the pinch of everything.
It is just that with 61yrs of being a part of a Democratic Republic, we have simply seem to have lost the hope that democracy offers. Not because democracy is hopeless, but because the corruption in this democracy has systematically destroyed all hope. Every time I go out to vote, I have to make a choice amongst several unworthy and corrupt candidates who just have promises. For too long has the government has enjoyed lack of accountability. This hopelessness has given rise to our numbness. This numbness has become our defense mechanism for protecting self from the troubles, we seem powerless to fight. I often find myself as a part of agitated debates and always the frustrations and hopelessness returned.
A few days ago I heard the news of one man demanding the end of Corruption. Anna Hazare and demands for Lokpal bill need no introduction. To be frank, I doubted this man's resolve and credibility when he first voiced his demands some months ago. However this time he backed his demands with a hunger strike and the resolve that has been equated (by media) with the famous Mahatma.
What has followed over the next few days has been unprecedented in the history of Free India.
His movement against corruption has captured the imagination of the old and the young alike. Again I am not reporting anything different from what the news channels are reporting. In fact my own numbness meant that I was conveniently ignoring the happenings around me and getting busy with my life. Living in a quite neighbourhood certainly helps.
Today though something different happened. On my way back home I noticed a crowd of familiar faces - friends and neighbours along with their families, taking to the streets with candles in hand and being vocal in their support to Anna's cause. These are not people swayed by a glib politician's eloquence. These are not people paid to form a crowd at a political rally. These are not people fanatic about cricket or religion. These are the same well educated, numb office goers who till yesterday formed a part of those inconsequential rants and arguments.
As I took the opportunity to take a few pictures, I could see those playful kids who cannot even spell corruption, cheerfully lead the way. The crowd ranged from 4 yr old toddlers to 70 year old grey hair.
This movement is a democratic movement in real sense of the term - "of the people, by the people, for the people", unlike the government which remains so only in the text books. Practically its full of corrupt politicians. It is thus not surprising at all that when the cause is so noble, the very politicians who are supposed to be representatives of the people, have stayed away from the cause. The opposition politicians who are usually very quick to point finger on the government on seemingly trivial issues are now simply mum. Perhaps standing for the cause is a suicide for the corrupt politician. Perhaps the corrupt politician is just waiting for the movement to die its natural death. Perhaps they are all conspiring to strike back at the people. Only time will tell.
For now this movement has given me and every Indian a new hope. I just hope that this movement gives its ultimate outcome, not the just the lokpal bill but the end of corruption. I hope that this movement does not die a premature death. I hope that the politicians wake up from filling their coffers and get on with the job they were chosen for - public service. I hope that for the sake of the 4 yr old holding the tri-colour, this movement means that he can grow up to earn an honest living in an honest country. I hope that the 70 yr old lives to see his 4 yr old grand kid become an honest youth driving the country.
I have nothing more to write for now - but just end this blog with the words "Hope is everlasting" and a few pictures from my neighbourhood which inspired this article.
Vande Mataram and Jai Hind.