The Irony of a Nation
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake
Rabindranath Tagore was born in 1861. He was a pioneer of Bengali literature and was the founder of Visva Bharti Institution. This poem was written and compiled in his works called ‘Gitanjali’.
What would this poem mean in today’s time and date? This poem was a vision of Tagore about India after Independence. Though one should question; has anything changed? Does this poem of Tagore written in an era when India was fighting for its Independence holds true even now? Are we really Independent or are we just consoling ourselves of the idea of freedom as white skin men from a distant country do not rule us anymore but brown men in white uniforms do?
I walk on a busy street. Dressed in a salwar kurta. I cross a bunch of men. What do I hear? Abuses. What do I feel. Scared. I live in a country where a teenage girl was molested by a mob of 30 men in Guwahati,Assam. Where a journalist was accused of instigating the mob to strip her, a complete video footage was shot of the scene and subsequently flashed on television and internet. My mind is full of fear when walking on the streets of this country. To avoid the society’s lustful gaze my head, invariably, bows down.
The future of my country is Children. When I read in the newspaper that in Maharashtra alone 3 lakh children do not go to school it makes me question if knowledge is actually free? Where scores of hundreds of children are employed in the bangle making industry in Nagpur losing their eye-sight and are dying in the coal mines of Meghalaya and Orissa, are we on the road to a brighter future or in the name of development killing the future of our own country.
It was a distant concept when caste of a person dictated his job role in the society. Where Dalit meant a person who constituted the lowest strata of the society. His job would be of a cleaner,a person who would make a living by cleaning public toilets, roads, people’s homes etc. His son would also carry the burden of his legacy. But now they say times have changed. But when I read about a Dalit boy in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences,Delhi(AAIMS) committing suicide because of his caste, it appalled me. Discrimination against Dalits led a highly talented boy to end his life. This country is still broken up into fragments of caste.
In a society where sex is still a taboo, where the idea of a relationship between a boy and girl is supposed to be kept quiet, where clothes dictate one’s moral thinking where narrow minds dictate the way one should live ,behave and act. Would I call the people of this nation educated or in a broader concept open-minded? The answer is pretty evident.
Where the quest of finding the truth is as vague as the truth itself. With an umbrella of scams shielding the truth from the public; will the words ever come out from the depth of truth? Where it is just admirable at the way Ashok Chavan and Vilasrao Deshmukh are accusing each other of the Adarsh scam without any sense of responsibility or guilt.
In Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, a Khap panchayat banned the use of cellphones for women under the age of 40. The reason being : they might elope with their lovers. Moreover they will also have to cover their heads when they step out of their house. Has the clear stream of reason lost its way or has it returned back to its roots back in the time when women had to cover their heads and cellphones were not even invented.
Into the deary desert of Vidarbha, in the land of actual dead habit, I see farmer killing themselves. 6 farmers commit suicide everyday in Vidharbha, Maharashtra. Maharashtra is experiencing the worst drought of all times. Farmer suicide is on the rise. Thousands of them dying each year.
Where the mind is led forward by corruption. Where money invested in anti-terror response equipment went into the pockets of the babu’s. Where money for children’s education is never used for building a school and where money given for infrastructure leaves a thousand people homeless. Where is the mind leading my county to?
Into ever widening thought and action. Where the action I am subjected to see is terrorism. Where the memory of 26/11 still haunts me. where the life of an individual has no value. Where killing someone has become so easy and the life lost insignificant.
I am not sure if into this heaven of freedom my Father wanted my country to be Awake.