Another English calendar year is approaching closure. This year has seen a yearning for fresh air and aspirations. Some have succeeded, whilst others like the Arab spring have turned into an autumn fall. The added colour of religious clouds has taken hold in places like Egypt where the new ruler wants to cast a more authoritarian rule. The promise of Scottish independence and Catalonian aspirations are still alive and so is the break-up of Belgium.

Back home in India, new yearnings of freedom and liberation started with many promises and some hope. Civil society in different forms and fronts made an upbeat start but the overwhelming powers of the established political parties are sucking the air out of that. Even in the Punjab, the year started with renewed enthusiasm with the emergence of the people’s front in the shape of Manpreet Badal’s political party. People were hoping that this up-and-coming new wave would breathe life into the aspirations of the common man and for once the dream of our heroes from the days of independence might be fulfilled. People were led to believe that rebuilding and strengthening the system along the ideals that led to independence would be accepted and democracy would conform as per the desires of the common people.

But this is a distant dream in India and more so in Punjab. Though present and emerging leaders claim to follow the trend of people like Uruguay’s President Mr Mujica, the reality is very different. Jose Mujica was once a revolutionary who today as President gives away 90% of his monthly salary to charity. He says that if you don’t have many possessions, you don’t need to work all of your life like a slave to sustain them and can instead spend more time to upgrade your own self and live the life of true freedom. Mujica’s is an example for world rulers as he is living the true life of a leader of the masses, as a common citizen.

The year in India is ending with a baffling and tragic news story that has prompted the question… in a country led by a powerful lady and where many states have female rulers, how secure are India’s women? The rape of a young woman in a local bus as it was running, who was then left out on the side of a road in crowded Delhi, unattended for a long period of time has forced India’s ruling class to answer, largely prompted by wide spread noise of young Indians in Delhi.

The famous writer and social thinker Ms Arundhati Roy in a recent interview to the BBC commented that India is looking for answers following this single rape, but has never dared to think about the mass rapes committed in open daylight in many regions of the country under the pretext of governance and keeping one segment of people silent. Glorified security personnel who have shoved stones into the private parts of a woman named Suri and many other unknowns who have dared to stand up for freedom have long been ignored. The foundation of the Indian state itself saw mass brutal rapes and dishonour during the period of partition in 1947 and even though this is not too distant a time in history, no answers are given even now.

In recent days in Punjab – which as per the latest claims of the ruling Deputy Chief Minister is the most peaceful state in India – a serving police official has lost his life for safeguarding the honour of his own daughter and elsewhere a serving police woman has been abused in public view. Moreover, when her male colleagues tried to intervene they were badly beaten and one of them even lost his turban. This Punjab state which is claimed to be the most peaceful, has seen in the Legislative Assembly how the ruling ministers behave with each other on the floor and feel unapologetic – and it is uninspiring.

People like myself are hoping that the coming new year will bring in a fresh wave of optimism where hope survives. I hope that Legislative Assemblies will have more sittings than disruptions and will debate issues in a manner where they address the concerns of the common man and work for his betterment. If they want support, they must enhance the level of confidence in the people and become our own Mr Mujica’s. I wish all readers and the family well in the coming year.