A Ripe Moment for Contemplative Engagement

The month of September is here and we are fast approaching the end of the year – a year that had many stories to tell, many paradoxes of development to uncover and many questions to pose before us all. India is passing through a unique moment composed of new adventures and achievements on one hand and a crisis of basic morality and ethic on the other. Indeed, as time passes one realises that the biography of the nation is in many ways interwoven with its cultural milieu, the temperament of politics, its ethico-moral priorities and its larger vision of the world and community.

What I am trying to point out here is that like the individual the nation too does not exist in isolation- its fate is simultaneously being shaped by a host of factors that often pull it in opposite directions. It is this aspect of the emergence of the nation’s identity that I feel is the most important and thought provoking theme of our times. To explain this idea further let me take three examples of recent events in the country that I assume most of us are aware of and through them I will try to establish my argument on the same.

The first incidence that I want to take up is the death of several children in Gorakpur’s BRD Medical College Hospital and ask our readers whether despite having jolted the national consciousness and causing tremendous media fury why was it incapable of generating a pan India debate on the nature of our national priorities and the lack of basic infrastructure for the common man of this country? Why did the photos of the dead bodies of infants viral on all media platforms did not invoke our own fury, why did we not come together and debate on the nature of our civilization?

The same happened in the second example that I wish to invoke and that is of the massive floods that struck the states of Bengal, Assam and Bihar this monsoon causing extensive destruction of both life and property- with heart drenching images of destruction and devastation disturbing the mind temporarily, why have we not begun a collective space for social action that is independent of both state and civil society and which works on the simple logic of human brotherhood? What purpose does our patriotic love, our commitment to the nation and our sense of nationalism serve if it does not motivate us to think rationally and act as responsible beings?

Perhaps we have grown very accustomed to celebrating the hype of external achievements such as launching of new satellites, the release of new mobile phones or the visit of the head of the state to different nations that we have forgotten that as ordinary citizens of the country we too have a responsibility towards it which we should not evade.  If we elect the government and feel that our right to franchise is the ultimate proof of the democratic culture then we must also understand that the functioning of democracy is synonymous with the vigilance and active participation of its people. The third aspect that I wish to talk about is the recent and failed attempt of India to launch a new satellite after technical issues occurred in it and ask our readers how they see an instance of this kind? 

On the one hand India is fast becoming a new global force to reckon with as it embraces the neo-liberal ideology and allows the market to become the central social institution – it launches satellites, sees global investments at an unprecedented scale, prides in its technological advances, claims to be the nation of the youngest population offering it a multitude of jobs and plans to expand on its dream of the ‘smart cities’ yet on the other hand it is this very India that allows its flood victims to remain submerged in the waters of destruction and damage year after year without permanent relief mechanisms, it allows its children to die in a hospital at an alarming rate not once but two times over and due to the same negligent behaviour, it allows its women to be raped and molested , it allows its ‘unholy’ men to ill-treat the public and deceit them- is this not a nation of many paradoxes or many ironies that we must not ignore?

The point that I am here trying to convey is that our collective face can never remain isolated from our individual destinies and the time has come when we have to rise up and carve it with our own hands. The culture of democracy survives only with public vigilance and commitment; we cannot ignore our own responsibilities anymore. This issue of The New Leam is sure to provoke many questions in your mind and urge you to think over matters you may have ignored so far. We have taken every possible care to include diversity and variety in content so that each reader has something that she can take back from here. We hope that you would enjoy reading every bit of it!

Best Wishes,

Vikash Sharma

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