Signs of The Times!

By Humra  Quraishi

Another four weeks for this year to end. Needless to add, it’s ending on a rather dismal note. Pun intended. After all, ‘notebandi’ did make many cry out in deep anguish, if not in sheer want.

Furthering the tragedy is the fact that there are no relays of any hope ushering in, in the coming year. In fact, 2018 will see those build-ups to the 2019 general elections and that in it will add to the murky political build-ups. New books could get launched, furthering or else denting the political parties and the bunch of men manning them. Though not too sure whether the masses of this country have the required inclination or sufficient energy levels to go through volumes on the supposed who’s who in the political hierarchy, but then the word spreads around….gets splashed in big or small newspapers.

Looking back, each time I have travelled through the rural and urban belts of North India, I read details to the political characters together with the political scenario lying well- tucked in the local publications. Many a time a village elder would be seen reading aloud from a Urdu or Hindi daily, to the dozens of enthusiasts gathered around and then the subsequent discussions could take off along the expected political offshoots. Surprisingly or not really, even in the far -flung locales of the Kashmir Valley what holds sway are the local Urdu ‘akhbaars’ laced with the latest political inputs. Each time I covered elections in the State of J&K, what had left me pleasantly surprised was the average Kashmiri’s general awareness of the political build-ups not just in his to her region but all across this sub- continent.

Political awareness is to be seen as never before even in the rural stretches of Uttar Pradesh. And it would be naïve not to bypass the consequences. Battle grounds are prepared for the coming elections and with that every effort in place to reach out in every possible way to the electorate. The politician is desperate. Ambitions are riding high …so high that murders of psyches if not of forms are taking place every single day. In fact, this brings me to write that the political poisoning unleashed from the various quarters is leaving its imprints on a whole generation in the making. Though I do not wish to drag along the personal but must write that during my one lone visit to Gujarat, the third -class communal uttering of the young taxi driver- driving me from the Ahmedabad airport to the venue where I had to address a gathering- had that left me feeling devastated. The young driver was not to be blamed for his views; over -fed he was on ananti- minorities propaganda. And for very obvious reasons there had been no countering of that poisonous virus, by any of the concerned authorities.

How I wishour writers come up with new books in the coming months to beat the heap of myths and misconceptions which are let loose, hell bent on wrecking whatever remains of us… After all, a writer’s prime role to connect and contain and communicate the realities, so that our intactness remains. And though in and around elections, political biographies or auto- biographies hog the limelight but the need of the hour is that the masses of this country manage to grasp some of those basic facts to the majority and minority communities which the politician twists and turns to suit his vested interests. There ought to come up series of volumes laced with facts to the majority and minority communities vis-a-vis their population growth, economic status, educational facilities, social development, living patterns, offshoots to rioting, internal displacements and more along the strain. In the usual course, this task should have been undertaken by the Human Resource Development Ministry but in the prevailing political climate its prudent if an independent writer or a team of writers takes up this task of bringing to the fore the exactness to the very basics.

Its scary to see what might unfold in the coming months. With an overdose of the political, there is little focus on the dying us; hit that we are by the political and environmental pollution, killing us so very steadily that if its not halted in the coming months we could be sitting semi – choked. What, with an overdose of speeches heaped on us from here and there. The onslaught of those hollow words will accelerate, even if angrier and hungrier we get in the coming year.After all, speeches cannot fill our hungry bellies nor wipe clear the layers of pollution throttling us to death.

If the politician is determined to cheat the electorate, towards make — believe development theories, then its about time we bring out volume after volume on prevailing ground realities to the living hellish conditions. Tucked somewhere along the pages should be this one —liner: our vote goes to the man who can clear pollutants around us. No, not swish-swash dust from here to there, but clear off poison from our daily lives.

Haven’t we had enough of the ongoing maar-kaat-dhaars! Haven’t we had enough of the make – believe! Time to usher in the New Year with a resolve to bring out and spread out facts. Nothing, but the stark truth. Reach out, to as many as possible, if you wish to keep this country intact.

Leaving you with these lines of Baba Bulleh Shah, “Masjid dhaa de, Mandir dhaa de, Dhaa de jo kuch dhenda, Par kissi da dil na dha vee, Rab dilla wich rehnda hae,” (Destroy a mosque, destroy a temple, destroy everything in sight. But don’t break a human heart, for that is where God resides).