Women and youth of India have taken it upon themselves to reinstate the vision of our founding fathers

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Saira Shah Halim
Saira Shah Halim
is a rights activist and an educator

For some 71 years is too short a time, while for others 71 years is too long a time.

India stands at crossroads today as ‘’We the people of India” are fighting and fighting hard with what looks like a battle to reclaim the idea of nationhood. Tagore in his book ‘Nationalism’ was clear that a naturally built human society is much more humane in spirit than an artificially created nationhood.

Our Literary great Rabindra Nath Tagore probably would have been berated as an ‘anti national’considering today’s time. It’s interesting to note that in the preamble of India it is clear that the word used is ‘people’ and not ‘citizen’ in the first line. The framers of our constitution could have added this word in our preamble.

“We The Members Of The Constituent Assembly”, however they were clear that it’s the people of the country that make a democracy work. In Hindustani a democracy means jamhooriyat, folkiness in English. So the vision of our country and nationhood was clearly defined by its people, the real power of the people, by the people, for the people and not an autocratic force or regime.

As I speak to some elderly people who have witnessed the partition, reminiscence the times during the partition and say that yes it was challenging to pick up the threads and sew a new independent nation, yet the country blossomed, our diversity was our strength.

The women and the youth of India have taken it upon themselves to reinstate the vision of our founding fathers, with tricolor in their hands and the nation flag painted on their faces, the love for their country is as real as the fear of losing their country.

With 31 States, 1618 languages, 6400 castes, 6 major religions, 29 major festivals we had so much to be proud of. Today these very people who are being beguiled as the Tukde Tukde Gang are the ones who are reclaiming the constitution.

The women and the youth of India have taken it upon themselves to reinstate the vision of our founding fathers, with tricolor in their hands and the nation flag painted on their faces, the love for their country is as real as the fear of losing their country.

It’s time for us to understand where that fear stems from instead of belittling that fear, just because the NRC CAA Act would not touch you with a barge pole, is plain privilege in action. Ever wondered about the possibility of becoming stateless, stripped off one’s identity, voters id, ration card and getting disenfranchised from the rolls of a citizenship our forefathers fought so hard for?

Today BJP can go hoarse by saying that the protesters are being misled by the opposition. They also can not wash their hands off from the fact that the first time in 71 years, hate, vitriol against the minorities of the country has been given legitimacy thanks to the hate spewers and bots of the BJP IT cell, many of them happen to be elected members of the legislative assembly and the parliament, I am not even mentioning the foot soldiers of the ruling dispensation.

This brazen hatred is spread through electronic media who are serving as stooges of political establishment in power, in today’s challenging times to opine is to make oneself vulnerable to attacks – physical, mental and emotional.

It’s time to introspect then whether they are justified in asking why are the Muslims of the country feeling insecure, as no one is taking away their citizenship. We know that in times of an economic crisis, inflation, joblessness, the government of the day has a lot to answer to, the deflection point should not become the Muslims of India.

This brazen hatred is spread through electronic media who are serving as stooges of political establishment in power, in today’s challenging times to opine is to make oneself vulnerable to attacks – physical, mental and emotional.

We all in our own ways are trying to repair a broken republic, no matter the consequences, why else would people come out on the streets every day protesting against the CAA-NRC, as plain and simple its against the guidelines of the founding principles of democracy-that is discrimination based on religion.

To tell a Shaheen Khan that your name has failed to appear in the NRC for some ambiguous reason and to tell a Pooja Sharma that your name too has failed to crop up in the NRC, however you have an umbrella to protect you from the torrential rainstorm and that is the CAA because only Muslims cannot seek that umbrella is plain bigoted and divisive in nature.

Never before in our country people have risen together in outrage to dissent, as to remain silent is to be complicit in the crime.

The only community in the country that is Indian by choice are the Muslims of India who chose to make India their home, who challenged the Muslim league and the Hindu Mahasabha both, such Muslims fought heroically, some even paying with their lives. Allah Bakhsh was one such hero.

The idea of a monolithic Muslim community was belied by the idea of partition itself-a debate that led to sharp divisions amongst Muslims. Today the flag bearers of communal politics and torch bearers of the two nation theory may claim that Hindus and Muslims have shared a violent history in the past also, however it was the Indian people that arose en masse in revolt against the British rule in 1857.

The official documents of the time of revolt like government gazetteers, reports, memos, newspaper clippings, photographs have a telling narrative of Hindu Muslim unity.

One look at the rebel anthem of 1857 penned by Azimullah Khan in Urdu read Hum Haen Iss Ke Malik, Hindoostan Hamaara, Paak Watan Hae Quam Kaa, Jannat Se Bhi Pyaraa.

At the same time lets also revisit the fact that as India raises the slogan ‘Inquilab Zindabad’-literal meaning- ‘long live the revolution’ yet again in 2020 after almost a 100 years, we need to appreciate the fact that it was first raised by Urdu poet, Indian freedom fighter and the founder leader of the Indian communist party Maulana Hasrat Mohani in 1921, later popularized by Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

History is witness to the fact that the partition caused one of the greatest displacements of people in world history, this unprecedented forced transfer of population took place despite assurance by the leaders of all the parties and the British rulers that there would be no transfer of population, yet it happened, we are today standing on the edge of that precipice.

In my final note would like to iterate once again that the right to life remains afforded to all human beings, as our constitution gives those rights that are inalienable to all human beings of the world irrespective of the citizenship and that is the true essence of our preamble to the constitution.

The first and last line of our preamble is equally telling-We the People in the first line and the last line give to ourselves, we the people are beyond the citizens, we the people who have adopted and enacted the constitution that we have given to ourselves.

So its only the people who decide the citizenry and the rights, duties of the citizens of India, the relationship between the people and the citizen has to be understood. The failure to remember voices that challenged the two nation theory would be our collective failure as patriots.

History is witness to the fact that the partition caused one of the greatest displacements of people in world history, this unprecedented forced transfer of population took place despite assurance by the leaders of all the parties and the British rulers that there would be no transfer of population, yet it happened, we are today standing on the edge of that precipice.

Either we drown or we learn how to swim, the choice is ours.

Saira Shah Halim
Saira Shah Halim
is a rights activist and an educator

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