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Wednesday, 25 April 2018

#BlogToPM



Dear Prime Minister,

I listened to you over the comfort of my smartphone and a much smarter lifestyle, speaking so eloquently at the Central Hall Westminster in London. Very carefully you touched upon the pressing concerns of our country- Woman’s safety, Unemployment, Heath care and Farmers. The रोटी  , कपड़ा ,  मक़ान   with a शौचालय and  स्वछता  around is a burgeoning reality  of today’s times along with ‘सबका साथ, सबका विकास ’ kind of movement. As the 2019 elections draw close, I wonder, is it all done? I am sure not. But you see, it would be unfair to only look at what is left undone. I am not one of those onlookers. As you remarked on your twitter- we have a million problems but we have 125 billion Indians to solve it. I am sure your intentions are honest and that is where big dreams have the potential to become a reality. It is just a matter of time.

So, why am I here? I have a concern, which I know has not escaped your seasoned and alert eyes. Yet I choose to write, to share and to remind our fellow Indians of the long road ahead in front of us. Everyone deserves a smart life, a comfortable one. 

I traveled to India few months back and my journey did not end at the world class Indira Gandhi International Airport. I took another flight and then an Alto ride to my home in Ranchi. While my family greeted me and their 4 year old grandson with warm hugs and merriment , I noticed an 8 year old child, clad in over sized faded tee-shirt( I faintly remembered it was my elder brother’s) and pajamas, staring blankly at me. The sight of my 4 year old kid excited him though, as he smiled at Manavi's antics in the patio.

“Who is he Maa?” I enquired.

“ यह हमारा नया नौकर है ,” my mom uttered carelessly.

“नौकर ? Maa please. But why? I mean..ummm why is he here? Does he study?” I questioned.

“Study? Naina, get back to reality. This is India. His grandfather served at your paternal grandparent’s house and now he is here.  The reality is that he is much better taken care of here. Back in the village he would have starved to death. Here, while he helps us in household chores, he gets good food to eat, a shelter over his head, clothes to wear, mind you we have brought two sets of new clothes for him for Holi and slippers to wear in winter. He even has socks and sweaters from us.”

I was silent. When I do not understand the grim realities of unfair and unjust life and my own helplessness, I go silent.

Few days’ later, after Holi, over a cup of chai served by Chotu, our maid servant entered. She looked barely 10 or 11, clad in a bright pink salwar kurta with glass bangles in both hands.

“Who is she, Maa? Has Pushpa daai left? She use to work?” I questioned again.

“Yes. She is not keeping very well. Today she called up( thank god to the telecom revolution)to say that now her daughter Manju will work.”

“Really? How will she? She is herself a kid. Doesn’t she go to school?”

“She is 15. She has to support her family Naina. Her elder brother pulls the rickshaw, younger one is barely 5, and her father left for Delhi two years back to work as cook.”

“School?”

“Where is the time for them to go to school? Or do they go empty stomach? Anyways, soon she will be married off. Nainu, these people live like this, generation to generation. There is nothing much we can do. But don’t think they are innocent. They are so pricey and demands of saree, suit and other things at every festival,” my mother’s annoyance was visible.

I went silent again. When I do not understand the grim realities of unfair and unjust life and my own helplessness, I go silent.



My sister-in-law Priya works for Care India and my brother is a reputed journalist with a leading news channel. Her younger sister is all of marriageable age and over an dinner invite at Priya’s parents place ( NRI do get a lot of dinner and lunch invitations), I learnt that they are looking for a suitable boy for their younger daughter Rishita.
“So, uncle, have you found someone yet?” I questioned, popping the gulabjamun in my mouth.

“Yes. I did. Couple of them. But you see betaji, suitable boys have a suitable price tag which I cannot afford.”

“Sorry, I didn’t get that?”

“Last week a probationary officer working for Punjab National Bank, Kanpur branch finalized the alliance at a price of 22 lakhs cash, household goods and a midsize car plus jewelry.”

“You mean ‘dowry’? Really Uncle ji? Even now?” The gulabjamun had never tasted so bitter.

“Yes Naina beta, PO’s are priced between 20-40 lakhs, class A civil servants cost around 50 lakhs to 1.5 crore.”

“But it is illegal and  Rishita is an educated, good looking and homely girl. She would be an asset to any family,” I interrupted.

“And that is not part of the groom’s side calculations.” The wrinkles on his forehead deepened with each word he spoke.

“Let it be uncle. We don’t need to marry Rishita to such savage, greedy people. They do not deserve. If you ask me, let her study some more, send her to Delhi where she can prepare for her civil services and make her career. She is already a graduate and barely 24.” I blurted with a deep sense of angst and remorse.

“Delhi? The rape capital betaji. Betaji she is secure here and I will soon work out her marriage. Once that is done, she will be somebody else’s responsibility.”

“But..umm...I mean...how can you uncle ji?”

“Such is life Naina. It is not easy in the country we live in. No wonder people still lament over the birth of a girl child."


I went silent, all over again. When I do not understand the grim realities of unfair and unjust life and my own helplessness, I go silent.

In that one month that I stayed, I tried to teach Chotu the Hindi alphabets and numbers. I tried to help Manju while she struggled to mop the floor and I motivated Rishita to start her preparation for state civil services and take up some online coaching if possible. Did I do enough? I don’t know. I have met a Chotu, a Manju and a Rishita in my life on various occasions before. All throughout my growing up years, I have met them and to my dismay, they are still lurking around in the dark alleys of life. I am 34 years old now. How much time does it ideally take to bring social reforms? I wonder. Can these reform percolate deep down, to the last suffering individual? I wonder.

I am not an economist, a strategist, a financial expert, a statistician or a data miner. I only have experience and I speak from experience.
Can YOU wave a magic wand and bring a smile on their face? I have understood in life that it is easier to manage the inflation rate and GDP growth but to awaken the moral consciousness of a society is an uphill battle. I am sure I cannot change the country and its people and their mindset and magically fix what is broken. I can only change myself, my thoughts, the family that I am a part of and ensure that we are not the evil fly in the Pandora ’s Box. We will not employ a servant and promote child labor, we will not employ a 15 year old girl child to replace her mother or put a price tag on our son. And while we say ‘NO’ to the unfair and the unjust, it is equally imperative to take a small step to do what is fair and just. Can Manju be enrolled in a local school and an affluent family like ours sponsor her education? You alone cannot do it. I alone cannot do it either. But as you mentioned on Twitter- India has a million problems but a billion people who can solve them. Count me in!






Image Courtesy-Pixabay, Blogadda.

BlogToPM is an initiative by BlogAdda(India's biggest blogging platform)  where they propose to aggregate posts from the community and present it to the Prime Minister's Office. They started on Republic Day and end on Independence Day.


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