Thursday, October 15, 2009

Greater Common Good?(!)

Life has its own language of talking to you... giving you answers, or more questions, at times it offers solace, other times it reminds you to count your blessings, and at times it wakes you up to some truths- only if one has the time to stop to listen to it......

Diwali is fast approaching and my mind has been filled with memories of Diwali। The only thing that comes to my mind when I think about Diwali is the celebration and fun I have had in a home that I grew up in. For the first time in my life, this year I would be celebrating Diwali elsewhere as we no longer live in that home where I grew up. My mind has been blank every time somebody spoke about Diwali, because it seems beyond me to imagine how it would be to live elsewhere during Diwali. This has been weighing on my mind for quite some time now.
Today, I walked into a library and picked up a book to read- a collection of essays on various social issues. I settled down comfortably with the book and I leafed through the contents. I chose to read a piece ‘Greater common good’ by Arundathi Roy.
The essay is set in the backdrop of a Pandora’s box (grandly called the Sardar Sarovar Dam construction). Arundati Roy in the essay, articulates why the idea of the dam must be trashed and how the ‘displaced’ millions struggle for a home even today. I found those words moving something in me. It was a journey that I undertook. As I read her essay, I admired the power of her language, was enraged at the insensitivity of Government towards the ‘displaced’, disagreed (and was angered) with her cynicism about Indian democracy, dumbfounded by the statistics (that claims that over 50 million people have been robbed of their homes to acquire land for dam construction), and taken aback by how we couldn’t care less about the faceless, voiceless (and now homeless) tribals and Dalits. The journey through the essay was intense and thought provoking. As I finished it and put the book down, the only thing that remained was an irrational guilt- about how I have been feeling bad about having moved into another home, when there are these millions who have nothing to call a home.
How precious is the idea of home to all of us?! I shudder to imagine how I would react if I were asked to move out of my home, because somebody decided that it is good for the nation to build something else in the place of my home.
Suddenly the new over bridges and the broad roads that decorate the city ceased to be glamorous. They seemed to be a reminder of how somebody has been robbed of their space to make it public space. The idea of expansion and displacement of people that we often read about in papers suddenly seemed to make more sense than before.
I have nothing against development and infrastructure building। But it is problematic if it involves unfair means, however “pure and noble” the ends maybe। This whole experience of reading the essay has opened my eyes to the truth of how significant the space of home can be for an individual. Something that we tend to take for granted. In a larger sense, reading this essay at this point of time, has had an meaningful impact on me. The unsettlement about moving away to a different home for me has quietened and replaced by a larger anger about insensitivity we breed in our country. Life has quietly reminded me to count my blessings for having a space to call a home, in a country where my home too could be taken away for a
‘greater common good’.

P.S: The following link takes you the essay, The Greater Common Good-

No comments: