If Not Now, When? If Not We, Who?

How dare you question the government? How dare you question our beloved Prime Minister? How dare you question anything in this country?

How dare you question the government? How dare you question our beloved Prime Minister? How dare you question anything in this country? Our country is the greatest. We are the strongest. We should not tolerate people who talk about problems – social, economic, or political.

I feel sick and tired of listening to the self-proclaimed guardians of this new wave of jingoism in India who do not want to ask questions.

If you cannot relate to my frustration, then you are either living in a cave or you are the one I am talking about here!

See, I understand that on the surface everything seems to be going fine in our country – movies are made, cricket matches are won, and roads are built. Then what is the problem of people like me who are unhappy about the current situation?

I love my country and I feel really proud to be an Indian. My pride comes from the fact that I hold dear the values that my countrymen fought and died for during the independence struggle – freedom, prosperity, dignity, equality, and justice. I feel inspired when I hear about our freedom movement – the struggle, sacrifice, passion, pride, and the courage of the many who asked difficult questions to a powerful colonial and oppressive government.

No doubt that the world acknowledges us as an economic superpower and the largest democracy in the world. There are a lot of things to be proud of, but let us look at some statistics below and ask ourselves if we are really free, prosperous and equal?

  • Over 30 crore Indians – the entire population of India at independence – still live in extreme poverty 
  • 63 million Indians do not have access to clean drinking water 
  • We rank 154th among 195 nations on the healthcare index, behind our neighbours Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal 
  • One out of every four students leaving Class VIII cannot read the text of Class II level 
  • We have 31% of world’s poor kids 
  • 2,60,00,000 cases are pending in subordinate courts across the country 
  • We are a nation of the most unemployed in the world


    These statistics evoke strong feelings of despair in me. How can we claim to be living in a free and prosperous nation if the majority of our population is suffering from poverty and our youngsters are helpless due to lack of opportunities?  

    But instead of talking about these issues, the most important agenda of our news channels and politicians is to keep a check on whether I am asking these ‘disrespectful’ questions to our unquestionable government, unapproachable ministers, powerful news anchors and other holy men.

    And why shouldn’t they have that agenda? They know that their job will become difficult if people start asking them real questions. So, give people a lollipop and keep them happy; spend on fancy posters, catchy jingles, and provocative speeches. Most of us fall into their trap. This reminds me of these lines by Waseem Barelvi:

    Wo Jhooth bol raha tha bade saliqe se
    Main e’tibar na karta toh aur kya karta
      (He was lying with such elegance
    What choice did I have but to believe?)     

    For these reasons, I have no option but to wear my patriotic cape and talk about the solution I believe will take my fellow Indians out of this vicious circle of poverty. We urgently need a movement that takes India in a new direction. Or better, we need something like a Samudra Manthan as narrated in Hindu mythology. The result of this churning (shaking the current system) would free the wealth locked in our country (amrit), take it from the hands of the big governments (asuras) and give this wealth to its rightful owners – the hardworking people of India.

    Currently, we are getting only a drop of this wealth that falls from the hands of government and politicians in the form of subsidies, loan waivers, tablets and other jumlas which don’t really help if I want to provide my children a good education, be able to afford healthcare, support my parents and pay for my sister’s wedding.

    Therefore, it is time for us to unite, create a prosperity army and lead India to its rightful destiny, making it a “sone ki chidiya” (the golden sparrow) again. I would like to end with these words by Dushyant Kumar:

    Ho gayi hai peer parvat si, pighalni chaahiye,
    Is himalaya se koi ganga nikalni chaahiye
    Aaj ye deewar pardon ki tarah hilney lagi,
    shart lekin thi, ki yeh buniyaad hilni chahiye
    Har gali mein, har shahar mein, har nagar, har gaon mein,
    haath lehraatee hue, har laash chalni chahiye
    Sirf hungaama khada karna mera maqsad nahin,
    saari koshish hai, ki yeh soorat badalni chahiye
    Mere seene mein nahin, to tere seene mein sahi
    ho kahin bhi aag, lekin aag jalni chahiye

      (The sorrow has reached the Himalayan proportions, it is time to make it melt by the emergence of soothing Ganges
    Today, the walls have begun to tremble like a curtain, but our deal was to get the foundations shaken
    In every alley, road, town, and village, every suffering body should be protesting
    Rabble rousing is not my aim, the whole effort is to bring a change
    If not in my chest, then yours by all means – wherever it may be lit, but the fire must be lit.)

    Read more – A Common Man’s Appeal: Stop Shouting and Get to Work