This morning I woke up to whatapp messages and facebook posts all commenting about Gurmehar. So I went online to see what the fuss was actually about.
After reading a lot of articles and the newspaper, I must say, I stand by her. She is spunky all right. For those who criticise her, and most of you are too young to remember, the politicization of college unions was what got a lot of students threatened and killed and so elections to the students councils were eventually banned in Maharashtra in1992.
The lift of the ban was viewed with mixed feelings. There was apprehension that the violence would start all over again and that these political murders would claim the lives of the youth.
This article by Sunil Rajguru says it all : http://www.dailyo.in/politics/rohith-vemula-hyderabad-university-sfi-abvp-nsui-student-politics-cpim-bjp-bandaru-dattatreya/story/1/8538.html
And I am surprised that people, who are normally quite sane, have gone on a rampage against this girl. What has she said that is wrong? Why should she not speak out? All she has done is voice her opinion. How many of us do that? On Facebook, on twitter, on whatapp, all of us have vented against some political party at some time or the other.
So why single her out?
Just because she seems to be a soft target? I am glad her teachers have stood by her. She needs that.
As an educator, as a mother of daughters, as a woman, I hope to have raised and taught my kids to stand up for what they believe in and against what they feel is wrong.
The other thing that has come up is the picture of her saying that Pakistan didn’t kill her father, war did. I must say, I absolutely agree with this. It is war that kills. It is greed that kills not any particular nationality.
When one of our soldiers is killed we immediately talk about how he is a son, father, husband. But when our troops kill a Pakistani soldier, we think it is all right, because they are our enemies. Then we don’t stop to think that he is a father, a son, a husband.
That is what war does. It dehumanises us.
The other day, I very proudly shared an incident with my friend telling him that someone had asked me if I was a Gujarati and I had replied that I was an Indian. My friend asked me why I had said that I was an Indian.
He said, if I didn’t find being Indian problematic, why was I offended being called a Gujju? That really made me think. I wondered if I should say I am a human being because I aspire to be part of the world, not narrowed down by barriers. But then I looked at my dog cuddling by my side and the rapport I had with her and thought of the endless killing of animals and trees around us and I knew I had to truthfully say, I am a living being. At least that is what I aspire to be, though I know it sounds very smug and arrogant.
But once you realise that you are part of one world, you perspective changes so much. Then war, rape, murder of any living being becomes abhorrent.
I am reminded of the poem by Robert Frost “Mending Wall” where he says that there is something in nature that doesn’t like a wall and that she will do her best to bring them down, either through roots of plants or burrowing animals that create gaps and finally make the wall crumble.
He asks his neighbour with whom he shares the wall why they need to build it as they have different trees growing on their lands. His neighbour replies that “good fences make good neighbours” and when asked why all that he says is that his father told him so.
Where Pakistan and other countries are concerned also I think we just go with what our political fathers have told us. And the people in those countries too do the same and so we keep building fences and walls rather than bridges.
We keep living in the past and don’t even want to think of a future of peace and love, of a place where we live and let live. Of a world that is tolerant and co-operative.
And so I am glad that there is a young girl who is idealistic enough to voice her opinion even in the face of dire threats!