Revolutions have stirred the existence of humankind ever since it has been. And each revolution has led to an evolution, affecting a progressive trend. History pops up numerous legendary revolutions if you go looking.
India has had two of its own as recently as last year. The year 2013 is the year of revolution. Why won’t it be? It’s a year that began with one revolution and ended with another.
The country ushered into 2013 not with celebrations but a protest and it ushered out of 2013 with another “people’s revolution” which shook the very foundations of our political system.
On 31 December 2012, the protest against violation of women’s basic rights was into its second week and going thick. While the epicenter of the protests, Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, had about 2,000 people, old and young, gather for a human chain and a candle march at the stroke of the midnight hour on 31 December 2012, the rest of India cancelled celebrations to mark their solidarity with the cause. The protest was triggered by the horrific gang rape of a 23-year-old paramedic in a bus in Delhi on 16 December 2012.
This rebellion changed much. It gave a stronger law on sexual harassment and sexual assault and sensitized the media towards the cause. Finally, it fixed that last bit of muscle into the anxious conscience of women which would lead them to openly speak out against offense.
What’s striking about revolutions is that they are hypnotic. They will pull you in whether you believe in their idea or not. And they don’t just mesmerize you, the now, they fascinate generations. So much so, that at times you don’t even need a leader to start a revolution. It just happens! The protest in the wake of the 16 December incident was one such. Nobody knows till date who started it and but everybody participated.
Each one of us has a revolutionary streak. Some put it to right use, others go astray, and the rest let it fade away in the routine of life. I never knew about that streak in me until recently when a Delhi university professor compared me to Rosa Luxemburg after hearing me talk on TV some time back. I had felt good, proud rather.
When I look back at 2013, I feel important that I have lived in times of revolutions. By the end of 2013 came another revolution which opened the echelons of power to the aam aadmi, or common man. An unassuming social worker, Arvind Kejriwal, established a political outfit, contested the Delhi assembly polls, won and formed government in Delhi! This revolution had roots in a bigger rebellion which took place in the August of 2011 led by the anti-corruption crusader, Anna Hazare.
A couple of days after the formation of the new Delhi government by Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, with outside support from the Indian National Congress, its 26-year-old Women and Child Development minister, Rakhi Birla, was seen moving around on the roads of Delhi post midnight paying surprise visits to police stations and police posts. She travelled in an auto-rickshaw, in keeping with the aam aadmi image. Many police officials were found drunk on duty.
It had been a while since India had seen a ruler who would walk the streets to get a firsthand low-down about the law and order situation. It had really been a while since a ruler took a walk down the street to check out the ground reality, literally. Yes, it had been a while since 200-something BC when King Ashoka of the Maurya dynasty disguised and went for a stroll on the streets of his kingdom striking random conversations with people and updating himself firsthand.
India may have had her share of revolutions. The revolt is over. It’s time for results. In the new year that begins today, India awaits its share of evolutions.
Let me wrap it up like TS Eliot in Four Quartets: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.”
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If you, or a woman or women around you, are subject to domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual violence, and other atrocities at home or anywhere else, here is what you can do.Know more