United in action
When we united in action seeking justice for Jyoti we were angry, even stunned, shocked and ashamed, at the barbaric and blatant manner in which the six low-lives violated and brutally hurt her. We forced our indifferent politicians to sit up and take notice. Everything that is decent in us demanded it and we didn’t care that they tried to muzzle us with water cannons, tear gas and lathi charges.
Why haven’t we united in action before? For other causes?
I can think of two main reasons.
•We’ve been afraid. We still are. In a country where there seems to be a great divide between justice and law, and goons are used by politicians to enforce the laws of the jungle, we’ve felt defeated. But after the 2010 anti-corruption movement, less so. We’ve understood the power of uniting in action.
•The other reason is easy to understand. It is inconvenient. At the end of a long working day we are exhausted. We need quality time with the family; we need to put up our feet; the weather’s muggy; roads are crowded and potholed; All this makes us reluctant to leave the sanctuary of our homes.
How can we tap into this glimpse we’ve had of what we (not they – the politicians and their uneducated goons) can achieve together? There is so much that needs our attention. There’s the hardened attitude of the communal minded, our health ruined thanks to garbage and noxious fumes in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the earth we grow our produce in, lack of infrastructure in our villages which drives villagers in their droves to slums in our cities, the gangs and corruption which are both involved in our politics and above all, the grinding poverty of some of our own brethren. Where do we begin? What practical steps do we take?
Someone in the blogging world pooh-poohed the idea of unity amongst Indians. I must agree to disagree. First, we’ve understood after the anti-corruption movement and after Jyoti that our united efforts are safe and effective. And second, I believe there is something in each of us that is inherently decent. Even if we lack faith in our politicians, even if they’ve cowed us down before, even if we know they’ve made it so that the law of the jungle rules supreme, there is a spark of humanity in all of us. That very spark made us come out in huge numbers to seek justice for the young woman so brutally raped and murdered in the prime of her life. That spark has been rekindled in us by her and I hope we keep it alive by remaining actively involved.
Short term we need to ensure justice is done by not letting up on our united protests. But long term? Here are one or two possible courses of action.
1.Our efforts will come to nought if we don’t learn to organise first. Who would be more effective in combating the supreme power our politicians seem to enjoy and their abysmal track record in handling India’s problems? Who would be safer? A billion lone individuals or a billion strong, organised force?
ORGANISE, THEN MOBILISE
2.To be realistic let each of us decide how much time we can spare per week. Can we devote a couple of hours to something that is outside of and bigger than ourselves so that we start making this democracy of ours work? Perhaps more? Or less?
SET A REALISTIC AND CONSISTENT TIME SLOT PER WEEK
3.Finally, join pre-existing organisations that espouse a cause, ANY cause, as long as it is close to your hearts.
JOIN AN NGO
So many Indians already know the joys of getting actively involved with charity. How does that help us fight what ails our country, you might well ask.
• For one, it removes the fear of getting involved. That has been, to my mind our greatest curse. Once involved, our fear (or apathy) simply melts away.
• It helps us appreciate and learn to trust each other.
• Unity of purpose and action ensures our safety and strength.
It benefits us as individuals. The members of any charitable organisation know how essential it is to put aside our egos and work as a team for a cause. (The less we have illusions of taking charge, the more co-operative we are, the better our success rate; and in a strange way, the better our leadership skills)
They'll also tell us they
• are normally there to right a wrong; to help alleviate pain and injustice.
• are already organised into a formidable force that makes a difference.
• are often under resourced but know how to utilise whatever is at hand to make a difference.
• need all the help they can get (and it doesn’t have to be monetary help.)
And I cannot think of any other approach that lets us be altruistic as we simultaneously acquire the many vital skills of being effective in an organisation.
Here’s a very good article from the World Volunteer Website on the benefits of volunteering: http://www.worldvolunteerweb.org/resources/how-to-guides/volunteer/doc/b...
So there you have it - a possible long term plan to breathe life into our so-called democracy. Let us, in greater numbers than ever before give a small portion of our time (daily / weekly / monthly) and our trust to charitable organisations that already exist. We can help them even as they help us.
One last word. This Youtube video on "ACCOUNTABILITY" by Cass Wheeler and Ho Sun Yee is well worth watching before joining an organisation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPqYMS7KeOo
Guest post from Khoty Mathur: http://nevermindyaar.blogspot.co.nz/