Friday, April 11, 2008

We, The People

I visited Shardambal Kovil today with Mom to get some Archanai Prasadam. On the way back, we saw an urchin kid, maybe around 6-8 years old, lugging a baby in her arms. There was another kid, again 6-7 years old, who was with them.

Mom indicated the kids and said: "Look. There are kids living like this too, in this world."

Mom asked me to give her the bananas we got as prasadam. I went forward to give her bananas and she says: "Uncle, iss ke liye doodh lena hai. Iski mummy bazaar gayi hai. Uncle, iss ke liye doodh lena hai." The subject in question was the lil kid she was holding.

I strongly felt like taking a ten rupee note and giving it to her, but somehow the thought of encouraging begging stopped me from doing it. I gave her the bananas silently and walked back, but a gamut of emotions exploded in my mind.

Later, we went to have dinner at Geeta Bhavan. A man, probably as old as my father was waiting at our table. We had a nice dinner and finished soon. We said our thank you to the person and left (after paying the bill, ofcourse :)

Watching the kid, watching the man, made me feel something I couldn't quite define. It is not pity I feel for them. I don't think anyone needs my pity.

I think its a mix of emotions from admiring how they cope with life, with so less on their side to a hope that someday, they can rise up and make a better life for themselves.

I salute that person who waited at our table. He is probably doing this job hoping someday his kids get the chances, he may never have received. He will probably continue doing it till the day his body doesn't support him.

When I was in Tokyo, I once told people that someday I want India to be like Tokyo is. The people laughed at me and said that is not possible, EVER and to take it in writing.

I still don't believe them.

In response to one of my previous posts, Vijaya had written that we must be proud of Indian minds on whose strength the corporations of the world are running. I agree.

In my opinion, an Indian success story is not just the Indian NRIs heading MNCs. It is as much the uncommonly "common" Indian person who fights for each square inch of space, each job, each travel berth, each spot under the sun.

Each Indian works damn hard, undergoing tremendous amounts of stress, almost always a ready smile and a kind word, even the poor helping those poorer than themselves. And returning home to a small home, maybe a slum home, tired, hungry and having worked a hard day.

Think of the bus drivers, cops, sewage cleaners, construction workers. Think of the hard work they put without getting their faces on the front pages of TIME magazine.

There is an order of truth joining the person who waited at the table with the rest of India. The truth is that he works very hard from morning to night to earn a few rupees which would probably go into a savings fund for his children's education, an occasional ice-cream, a new shirt for Diwali.

The rest of middle-class India saves pennies by bargaining at the vegetable market, spends frugally, works hard at a job, resists temptation to splurge extravagantly and builds up a lifes worth of savings to buy a home, get married, fund their future, the future of their children.

People like you, me and the rest of us who are lucky to be born into families where want is unheard of, every wish is granted and life is a bed of roses in most cases; it is the very least that we somehow find ways to constructively utilize our gifts to work towards the betterment of the lives of those who don't.

We have done nothing to earn the privileges we have or worked to be born into the families that have been able to help us achieve our dreams and goals.

It is not politicians peddling quotas for money who are the true India. It is not politicians peddling communal disharmony who are the true India. It is not corrupt bureaucrats who are the true India.

It is you, me and rest of us hard-working Indians who are the true India. And no matter what anyone says, I believe that inspite of all the differences amongst us, inspite of any negativity that surrounds us, inspite of a responseless Government, we can and we WILL rise. When that day would come is unknown, but it will happen. We will rise with people power.

We, the People. We, the Indians.

1 comment:

O said...

you know, the one thing I admire the most in you is that you never give up hope even when others are cynical.

I return in July. Are you back? What are you upto? I've been busy updating my blog with more links and trying to give it a new look. hee hee!