As we bid goodbye to 2022, a prayer for India
Where Parliament sessions are not consigned to being a mere ritual, where the Opposition doesn’t disrupt, and the government doesn’t dictate, but both sides learn to talk to rather than at each other
As 2022 draws to a close, it’s time again for a prayer for India ahead of a new year.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high. Where India takes the threat posed by China seriously as a “united” country, not where the response is marked by self-defeating “tu tu main main” arguments with the government and Opposition accusing each other. Where the Army is kept out of the political slugfest and fully supported in bravely protecting our borders in icy climes. Where, when things go wrong in 2022, we don’t blame them on Jawaharlal Nehru’s failings in 1962.
Where Parliament sessions are not consigned to being a mere ritual, where the Opposition doesn’t disrupt and the government doesn’t dictate but both sides learn to talk to rather than at each other. Where India presiding over the G20 is about collective pride, and not just self promotion.
Where the executive and judiciary don’t confront each other but recognise their constitutional limits. Where judicial appointments are not held up only to prove a point, where judicial independence is not threatened by ministers publicly criticising the judiciary. Where human rights activists don’t languish in jail without bail only because their ideological leanings lead them to be branded “anti-national”.
Where the Election Commission acts as a neutral umpire. Where elected representatives don’t switch sides overnight only for ministerial benefit. Where enforcement agencies are not used to intimidate political rivals into falling in line.
Where a rational discussion on the economy calls for more facts, less spin. Where all is not doom and gloom, but neither can “don’t worry be happy, we are better off than the rest of the world” become a recurring mantra. Where it is better to admit that growth has slowed, and jobs are scarce. Where our low ranking in the global hunger index troubles us just as lifting many millions of Indians out of poverty gives us satisfaction.
Where one party’s welfare agenda cannot become another party’s “revadi”, where election promises are made that governments can deliver on rather than spur a freebie culture that will bankrupt the exchequer. Where leaders seek votes on governance and not by raking up polarising issues. Where elections are fought on the needs of a 21st century India and not who destroyed which place of worship in the 16th century. Where the climate crisis is a matter of concern that is not confined to seminars in distant foreign capitals but becomes an integral part of the national conversation. Where the right to breathe clean air is seen as a fundamental right; where, when our cities are flooded, urban bodies are held accountable for the taxes we pay for better infrastructure.
Where small and micro enterprises get the same benefits from banks that a well networked large business does. Where government recruitment exams aren’t endlessly delayed and, when they are held, we don’t have frequent paper leaks that compromise the careers of millions of young Indians. Where reservations don’t become a political weapon that prevent a level-playing field in highly competitive professions, where the number of seats available in the general category don’t shrink every year, where equal opportunities are made available through scaled-up scholarship programmes.
Where interfaith marriages aren’t instantly demonised as “love jihad” and where love is not criminalised by law. Where collective anger against rape is not determined by the religious identity of the rapist but by the nature of the crime. Where, whether the name of the accused is Aftab or Amar, the outrage over murder is the same for all.
Where the colour of the dress an actor wears in a film is no reason to seek a ban on the movie. Where we don’t in a plural society impose our beliefs, where saffron can be pious and beautiful at the same time. Where political parties don’t plug a film that fits in with their propaganda machine while questioning those that don’t buy into an official narrative. Where tolerance and accommodation of the “other” becomes a symbol of our unique diversity.
Where social media doesn’t become a “free for all” forum for hate speech and abuse, where fact-checkers aren’t arrested only because the facts are inconvenient to the powerful in a post-truth world. Where prime time television shows don’t profit from communal polarisation but seek to impart knowledge and not stoke prejudice.
Where our women’s hockey and cricket players get the same attention as their male counterparts when they conquer new peaks. Where every Indian, irrespective of caste, income, gender, region or religion, feels a sense of common citizenship in being Indian.
Into that heaven of freedom, let my country awake! Happy New Year.
Rajdeep Sardesai is a senior journalist and authorThe views expressed are personal