By Vijay Darda
I am deeply troubled by some of the incidents that have occurred in the recent past. Girls between seven and 18 years in age were repeatedly raped in a shelter home in Muzaffarnagar, Bihar and the screams of those hapless girls failed to reach our ears. I am using the word ‘our’ for the entire society and the whole system including the government and administration.
The news so far is that the predators raped 34 of the 42 girls. Brajesh Thakur is not the only perpetrator in this list of sex monsters. Many politically influential people including those in power must have been party to the crime, and thanks to these people, Brajesh Thakur had become the uncrowned king of the crime world.
It has further emerged that 11 girls have disappeared from the shelter home over the last three years. It is not yet known what the barbarians did with them and whether they are alive or not? It is surprising that, Sushasan Babu, that is Nitish Kumar, broke his silence on this issue several months later. The matter is now with the CBI.
I have also been deeply pained at the news of three girls in Delhi and a woman from Jharkhand dying of hunger. I often wonder why the country which has succeeded in sending its satellite on Mars and is preparing to land a manned satellite on the moon, the country which is the granary of the world and which is satiating the hunger of the world, could not eliminate the scourge of hunger that has held our people in its vicious grip.
About 15 years back, children in Anand city of Gujarat had asked our great scientist A P J Abdul Kalam: “Who is our biggest enemy?” To this, Kalam Sahab asked the children to answer this question themselves. A girl named Parul then replied that our biggest enemy is poverty. Nodding in agreement, Kalam Sahab said this is the truth. We have to fight poverty to make progress in the world. Unfortunately, all the government schemes notwithstanding, the news of starvation deaths continues to filter in from time to time.
The painful fact is that the accountability for starvation deaths as to who is responsible for not supplying foodgrains to the poor has not been fixed? A few months back, a child had died of hunger in Jharkhand. It was reported that despite having a ration card, his parents could not get foodgrains for want of Aadhaar verification. A lot of hue and cry was raised after the child’s death but no action was taken against any official. Now the news about the starvation deaths of three sisters in Delhi has come in. The Delhi government termed it as unfortunate but no responsibility was fixed!
Last week only, it was reported that the side lane of Delhi-Agra Express Highway suddenly caved in and a car fell 50 feet into the pit below! It is clear that this portion of the road was constructed poorly, lest how would the road cave-in suddenly? When one such incident happened in China, the guilty there was hanged; such type of punishment is unheard of in our country.
I keep travelling around the world and invariably feel that the roads in our country are not constructed properly. A flat and smooth road is not visible anywhere. The car moves shakily even on the newly constructed cement road. If you are riding a car in other countries of the world, even the water in your stomach would not move, so smooth they are. Obviously, we do not follow high-quality standard in road construction. Due to the collusion of contractors and engineers, the construction of roads is often shoddy and they are not maintained well at all.
Just look at the condition of roads in Mumbai. The roads have developed so many potholes and pits that they have left the Ganeshotsav mandals worried as to how to take out Ganesh immersion procession. The officials have assured to fill the potholes in the areas from where the processions will be taken out, but the question is why the roads develop potholes every year? Has any engineer or any contractor ever been held responsible or action taken against anyone in this connection?
Assam has hogged the limelight on the issue of exclusion of 40 lakh people from the National Register of Citizens. In other states, the list is not ready yet. One estimate is that nearly three crore foreign nationals are living in our country. It is reasonable to ask as to why this situation arose? Such a large number of people kept infiltrating and our system kept silent? And what will happen if such a list is made now? Where will you send them? Which country will take them back?
There are countless such issues that make us restless. We have to think deeply as to why this is happening? Indeed, the reason for all this is lack of national thinking within us. When thinking is not national then the national character cannot be built. The national character means that every step of ours, every effort, every move and every thought is inspired by nationalism.
Unfortunately, the term nationalism at present has been painted in religious colours. Politics has given a new definition to it. It has been given a communal colour. If you follow a specific ideology, you are a nationalist or else you will be declared as being against the country. Communal thinking, supremacist ideology and propaganda machinery have vitiated the atmosphere.
The society is getting divided on narrow lines. We are being divided in the name of caste, language and community. If we do not get rid of this kind of hidebound belief and do not explain the right definition of nationalism to the people, the country would soon be faced with a major problem. Citizens of the developed countries of the world have a national character. They can go to any extent in defending the honour of their country. Why don’t we have a similar national character?
See, there is a difference between nationalism and national character. The person breaking the traffic rule on the road can be a nationalist but by breaking the rules, he has shown that he does not have a national character. We all have patriotism but how many people have the national character? Without a national character, we can not build a strong and cultured country!
Let it be underscored that national character is not a commodity to be purchased from the shop. It has to be inculcated in children since infancy. Our saints and sages as also the system have failed in building our national character. Now it is the binding duty of the parents and the teachers and they should shoulder this responsibility faithfully. I would like to add one more thing that all the prime ministers right from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to Narendra Modi have left no stone unturned in taking the country forward. Modiji works for 18 hours a day but when governance, administration and system do not support their effort, how could success be achieved?
Before I conclude
In the International Physics Olympiad held in Portugal, Indian students brought glory to the country. All the five students have won the gold medals. This is the first time in 21 years when all the five students of a country’s team have won gold medals. I congratulate Bhaskar Gupta (Mumbai), Laya Jain (Kota), Nishant Abhangi (Rajkot), Pawan Goyal (Jaipur) and Siddharth Tiwari (Kolkata). They are our real heroes.
Vijay Darda has been the chief visionary and driving force behind Lokmat, a leading multi-platform media company. He is a recipient of several prestigious awards including the Feroze Gandhi Memorial Award for excellence in journalism in 1990-91.
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