“No, I didn’t see the red flags; 
I saw their red blood which is the same as ours”.

- Aditya Thackeray

I repeat it once again, today: I have consciously decided to stay miles away from hardcore party- politics and the hardcore 'party-religions'. Like others around me, I, too, cast secretly my ballot to a political party or a candidate, who, I think is better. And, like all, I, too, follow a certain religious faith and keep my faith totally a matter of my personal choice. I have no business to impose my preference on even my own wife or son… Leave alone on people outside my home.

So, the night before last, when I blogged about the farmers’ march from Nasik to Mumbai, I wasn’t guided by the Communist red-flags or any bias towards the ruling party. As I said, I have better things to do in life than waste on things like playing dirty politics.  Those who love to do it, let them do it… I am fine to keep my political or religious tastes private. I, also, do not like to engage in any political and religious debates from public platform, including social media, for the very same reason. I have friends and associates who belong to different religious faiths… I have friends and associates who support different political parties. And I have to recognize, respect and celebrate that difference. The moment I go public, decrying what I do not prefer, it is clear, that I have chosen to sabotage my friendships and relationships…

It’s sad, we do not see it that way.

As we don’t watch TV at home, I was keen to read on Times of India, this morning, as to what had happened to the farmers’ demand. I was shocked to see the kind of coverage – is it called ‘importance’? – to this news report. Barely some inches! It’s the only news paper I have been reading ever since I arrived in this great city… Like every other addiction in my life – tea, reading, blogging, or whatever – TOI has been my four-decade-long addiction. But, today, I felt angry, let down!

This was not the way to treat our poor farmers and tribal, sir. No matter, what, a paper who is crowned ‘Old Lady of Boribunder’ – hello, you have been here much before many of us were born, here or elsewhere born… You owe it, therefore, to the people of this city, Madam… a news that really mattered.

Did I say, ‘a news that really mattered’?

“IT’S A LONG, LONG NIGHT’… Yes, this was how I had titled my last Post. The farmers and tribals had come to the city on Sunday, walking in the burning heat… most of them with worn-out chappals and slippers and many barefoot… The less I describe it, the better it is. They were supposed to camp for the night on Sunday at the K.J. Somaiya ground and complete the last lap of 20 kilometers to the city on Monday morning. I was quite anxious as to what might happen… I was also worried about things going out of control – violence, destruction and bloodshed. But, on Monday morning, when I woke up, I learnt what had happened: over thirty-five thousand (or fifty thousand?) of them, had quietly walked the last twenty-kilometers in the night itself! Because, they did not want to cause inconvenience to students who wrote 10th standard and 12th standard Board exams! They did not shout any slogans… Because, they did not want to disturb people who were fast asleep!

By the time, we Mumbaikars woke up on Monday morning, the farmers and tribals had already completed their last lap of march!

Let me tell you this: To me, what these poor farmers and tribals taught, through this march -  with their discipline, patience, tolerance, sacrifice, determination, faith, trust, empathy, courage and hope – yes, it is far, far, far greater in value than all the education I have ever received through all my schools, colleges, motivational books and sessions. Yes, what they taught me, particularly on the ‘Long, Long Night’ – has left me humbled for life!

So, do I need the mainstream media – the print or the electronic – to help me ‘feel’ for the poor farmers who feed me?

There were many who bled… and they voiced how they felt…

Nandita Das quoted Martin Luther King, Jr.:  “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Anand Mahindra tweeted: “Mondays are a time to share quotes about Motivaton to get to work. Over 35K farmers have walked for days to get to Mumbai. We Mumbaikars are fed by them...Seeing the elderly amongst them with calloused feet, I cannot preach about motivation.”Their determination is enough of an example.”

I was particularly moved by what young Aditya Thackeray said in his tweet: “I spoke to them yesterday. and before when we toured the State to hear them, help them. No, I didn’t see the red flags; I saw their red blood which is the same as ours. Whichever the flag they carry, whoever their political hero, govt has to hear them. Fellow citizens.”

There are some moments in life, when we all have to rise above our individual biases… I strongly feel, that the Farmers’s March from Nasik to Mumbai, in the burning Sun, was one of them.


Pics: 1)  DNA   2) The Hindu  3)The Indian Express


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