Four friends sat in a reading room 5 years ago talking about how they thought the system should change and how certain things if taken care of would help in better functioning of this country. They were aware that the only way to make a start was to enter the political arena. They planned to form their own political party. They had the name and symbol decided too. They believed that politics should be youth dominated and they enumerated various amendments in the constitution. One of the major amendments that they wished to make was-‘Any individual wishing to contest in the elections must have a graduate degree compulsorily.’ They decided to walk the talk. Once they finished with their own education would they step out to better the country, they concluded. Today, the four girls are in four different parts of the city unable to communicate on a regular basis as their academics take up most of their time. I was one of them. It seems like a dream when I look back today. We used to discuss our plans in great detail. 5 years have changed a lot of things and that dream still remains an unvisited one.
The other day I was sitting in my classroom attending a lecture. I hope I will not be reprimanded if I say I wasn’t paying attention. I was talking to my friend, Rohit Dhannawat, fondly known as ‘Gawde’. We just got talking about what kind of a situation the country is in. Rohit was sharing his knowledge with me about how certain things should be changed. It was just like sitting in that reading room like I used to, 5 years ago. We discussed a lot of things right from the education system to poverty to politics to women rights and how we thought we could change things. He thinks ticket checkers can be made a lot more efficient if we can implement his idea. (This is his idea and it belongs only to him). For every Rs.250 that is taken as fine, the TC should get Rs.100 and the government should keep Rs.150. Also, the TC should get ‘credits’ for a number of persons he catches. Once he has acquired a pre-determined number of credits it should entitle him to a promotion. In my opinion it’s a very good idea indeed. But the problem remains what can be done of such an idea. Who will go out to implement it?
Somehow, this entire discussion gathered momentum on its own. A few days later I was in the library talking to my friends Jubin (J) and Siddhesh (Siddhu) about similar things. (Again I hope I won’t be reproved for talking in the library.) The discussion took off because we were talking about Slumdog Millionaire. The movie has been applauded worldwide and driven by the curiosity of what exactly was the world going ga-ga about I went to see the movie. Somehow, I don’t agree with the West proclaiming that it is A.R. Rahman’s best work; I think he’s done a better job in Dilli-6. (I’m a Huge Rahman fan, FYI). Anyway, the point is I was basically ‘bashing’ a ‘famous superstar’ for criticising Slumdog for portraying India as the murky underbelly of the world. The point is, what Slumdog showed was the truth. A truth that ‘some’ affluent Indians choose to ignore. Our country has kids like Latika and Salim. I’m not sure whether it has children like Jamal. Jamal was very lucky. Jubin pointed out that Salim does tell Jamal in the movie that “India is changing. And this is the new face of changing India.” What followed was an hour long discussion of our ideas to change certain things in the land that we live. Siddhesh has always wanted to start a charity organization by the name of ‘Just a Rupee’ he told us. (Again, this is his idea and his idea alone). What he thinks is that, if each one of us would donate just one rupee, on one day every year, it would definitely add up to a huge amount considering the population of this country. The proceeds collected can be used for charity work. I asked him, “Who will take care of such a huge amount?” He said “The 3 of us.” Thanks, Siddhu. (From J and me.) But as of now it is obviously just an idea. Again the question arises, who will go out to implement it? We have enough on our plates as of now. (Don’t we, engineers?). Poornima and Supriya joined us and by then the discussion had steered towards women empowerment. We were talking about the various ways in which women are treated and honestly they seem to be letting that happen to them. I’ve been thinking about the condition of women in society, having witnessed a lot of subjugation lately(I’m not the one at the receiving end). In my opinion women should be educated and have the strength to stand on their own feet if we want to prosper as a human race. The following is my idea (and my idea alone). In my opinion, in the villages of our country every family that sends a girl child to school should be given a monthly portion of rice for their consumption. The government can buy the rice from the farmers of the same village where it has to be distributed. By doing this, the farmers will get income as well as people will send their girls to school. It may not be much but it’s a start!
It was a discussion I’m going to remember for a long time to come just like I remember those that happened 5 years ago. And who knows somewhere down the line I may be in a position to do something constructive rather that just talk like we did. The only point that Supriya added was that she told the guys that she thinks they should learn how to cook too and it is not supposed to be a woman-oriented job. To which J said that it might be considered one but ironically the best chefs in the world happen to be men. Without another word Supriya went back to her reading, showing us what libraries are meant for. Last benches of classrooms and libraries are places where the youth do engage themselves in discussions pertaining to the country. Atleast, I have been part of such discussions. In soliloquy I do think about such stuff (maybe it shows I don’t have much to do, but what the heck!). But when the bell rings and the discussions end all of us go back to the lives that we come from. For, there is a lot to do and a lot to accomplish in our own lives. I believe that we ar
e in a phase where we are learning to take care of ourselves. After all, if you can’t take care of yourself how can you hold someone else’s hand? And then I’m reminded of a song where even ‘Superman’ sings:
“I’m only a man in a funny red sheet,
Looking for special things inside of me.
It’s not easy to be me.”