Apr 22, 2009
Ten boys, almost of my age, get on a boat one night, go to Mumbai, besiege the two best hotels and a Jewish settlement in the downtown, spray bullets, kill, take hostages and paralyse the nation for nearly three days. The police have no idea what to do. The bigwigs of the government are more content in taking their sons and daughters for a fun visit to the site. Months later, South Bloc still can’t get that country to close the terrorist training camps that still operate with impunity in its territory.
Back then i was agitated. As a disillusioned middle class Indian youth, I complained about governmental dysfunction and security loopholes, about untrained police and an unaware public. I sat on a beanbag chair and cribbed about all the problems-but i never went beyond that.
I cursed the system. For me, people who came through votes were the real enemies and not the people who came through boats. I searched for reasons to why an ace shooter shoots, get gold and is rewarded in crores whereas another shooter, who dies while fighting terrorists, is left to bite the cold dust. I wanted to know which victory is critical. I asked-but I never went beyond that.
I denounced the political system. For me, Indian democracy was a bit like Gulliver tied down by a gang of kleptocratic and criminal lilliputians; every five years they let the giant get up and stretch and then order him to lie down again. On a coffee table with my friends, i have all the logics, the explanations and the solutions for everything that went wrong. I spoke-but i never went beyond that.
I read about the hunger in the villages and small towns where electricity is an infrequent visitor and where public institutions are hubs of malefic political activity. I was pained about this-but i never went beyond that.
I see a host of success stories-not as big as Henry ford’s, but not small by any measure as well. An MBA from San Francisco state university, Rahul Gala Shah, has returned to become a successful farmer. P.K. Biju, a student leader, wants a paved road to make the 2 km trudge to his school easier. Shruti Nagvanshi embrace the faith as a protest against untouchability.These are men and women who have chosen the rough and tumble of politics and used their talents to be people of worth. I appreciate them-but this time i want to emulate them.
And suddenly i have a chance of the lifetime to go beyond. Come 13th may, and it will not just be a button on an Electronic Voting Machine, i will press a change.
We are citizens at a time when the world is watching how we will exercise our rights in the world’s largest democracy. Will we cold shoulder convention or cave into it? We are the future of India but on our decision will depend the India of future.