India has seen the birth of a new hero in the person of social activist Anna Hazare. This elderly man in his seventies has jolted the Indian governing class with his simple but straight forward approach, practically bringing the Indian Government to it’s knees and running amok within different political parties. It has been some time since a movement of the people has initiated real change in India and it is not unfair to say that recent events from the Arab World and Africa have given a new lease of hope to the ideal of power of the people.
In 1930, the salt movement of Gandhi started the demise of the British Raj and hinted at Indian rule by sheer power of the people. The liberation of the people from a fear of the powerful and ruling class brought with it a new level of confidence. Anna Hazare’s effort to once again rejuvenate that spirit and liberate people from a fear of standing up for what is right is a good beginning. However a concern that has already been raised by more enlightened people than I, is that the culmination of this movement creates a new path of unchecked people power, potential anarchy and a power structure without checks and balances. At the same time, I think that by breaking visible chains of power which overlook existing abuses and corruption, new invisible chains will rapidly arise, albeit harder to control. This has already been seen happening in Egypt and other nations which have recently emerged through the people’s uprising.
As a Sikh, I can’t comment or write without saying something of Sikh affairs in this context. This recent activism is for us as Sikhs to ponder. The power of Sikh youth which is in many ways increasingly moving away from Sikh thought, should think about this people-powered awareness and the ability it gives us to look within ourselves. We can utilise it to seek to bring about a change in our approaches. A quote comes to my mind:
Main akela hi chala tha,
Jan-I-be manzil magar,
Log mujh se milte Gaye,
Karvaan bann-da Gaya.
Our work at Naujawani.com is a good way to create a stream – as I said karvaan – that can be added to with our collective thoughts and input, so that it too becomes a symbol of change that results in the uplifting of the Sikhs. Like Hazare, the major issue concerning us Sikhs too is corruption in our power base and it’s affairs. These are many, but they can be held aloft and deliberated upon at all levels if we so choose, the first action being for the power of the Sikh youth to convert these deliberations into a solution that can awaken our nation and reignite the meaning of our pride and our dignity.
The coming onset of Vaisakhi reminds us of the spirit behind our Sikh way of life: the liberation from fear of power, the departure from our timid outlook and our inhibitions of greed and self-centredness, all leading us to a new beginning of self-consciousness. With this comes greater care for our surroundings and a yearning to change the way we evaluate ourselves and allow ourselves to exist under a rhetoric-oriented power. More than any other people, inside each of us is a voice like that of Anna Hazare and we must not waste the precious time we have by not finding it and moving forward together.