Opinions

India too needs a ministry of loneliness

Now that UK has appointed the country’s first ever ‘Minister for Loneliness’, I’m certain the political lot here will be thinking in terms of setting up a ministry along the same lines. We are good at aping the West. We are also great at dragging along suitable changes to suit interests. It wouldn’t be amiss to point out that just in case a ‘Ministry for the Lonely’ is set up here, it would be grabbed by the chosen top lot. Needless to add, it will used by the political characters – each one of them proclaiming that though they are well-equipped with husbands and wives and children and grandchildren yet they are all alone up there!

Here, don’t we have ministries for the minorities, for women and children, for the supposed welfare of all possible sections, but look at the absolutely dismal and deteriorating conditions! Look around and the scenario seems frightful…yes, loneliness is a definite truth for a large majority of Indians but it gets compounded seeing the rising crime graphs. Everyday criminals are let loose in our midst by the very establishment, not just unofficially but even officially. Haven’t you heard the latest coming from the state of Uttar Pradesh - Yogi Adityanath’s government seems to be planning withdrawal of nine criminal cases pending in a court in Muzaffarnagar against BJP men who were booked for their role during the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013.The cases were filed against the current U.P. Minister Suresh Rana, former Union Minister Sanjiv Balyan, the current Bijnor MP Bhartendu Singh, the current Budhana MLA Umesh Malik and BJP leader Sadhvi Prachi.

Latest reports state that Yogi Adityanath’s government has sought information and opinion from the district magistrate and also the superintendent of police of Muzaffarnagar on the possibility of withdrawing nine cases against the accused BJP leaders. To quote from one of the news reports, “In the January 5 letter to the district magistrate, Uttar Pradesh Department of Justice Special Secretary Raj Singh has sought information on 13 points, including whether the cases could be withdrawn in public interest. The letter also sought the opinion of the Senior Superintendent of Police …Though the leaders have not been named in the letter, the file numbers pertaining to the cases against them have been mentioned in it.” (http://www.thehindu.com/tag/226-217-81/muzaffarnagar/?utm=bodytag).

This blatant step, when the accused are facing serious charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for violating prohibitory orders, deterring public servants from discharging their duties and wrongful restraint! Also the vital fact, these accused had participated in a “mahapanchayat” and incited violence through their incendiary speeches in the last week of August 2013. The communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas in August and September 2013 had claimed around 100 lives while around 100,000 Muslims were expelled or had to flee from their villages due to the violence. In two riot cases, 22 activists, including Mr. Rana, are facing trial in which a special investigation team (SIT) has filed chargesheets.

Needless for me to dwell on the offshoots this move will lead to. Disaster for the democratic setup! Hate-speech givers and rioters not sitting imprisoned but walking free, to make preparations for another round of rioting and killings!

*****

Getting back to loneliness. Its a reality in India. More and more people are sitting lonely in today’s ruthless scenario. Mind you, it’s not just the top socialites or those from the creamy layers, but also refuge-seekers and migrants and, of course, the elderly!

We aren’t even aware of the exact figures of the lonely in India but they could be absolutely high, with a vast majority amongst us quipping rather too blatantly and honestly – hey, who isn’t lonely!

We in India haven’t even bothered to put together the exact data and details but the UK government collected the backgrounders before appointing Tracey Crouch as the country’s first ever Minister for Loneliness. And going by published details from a study focusing on the UK’s lonely, these are some of the findings: more than 90 lakh people out of a population of 6.56 crore said they are always or often lonely. The elderly and disabled, 17-25-year-olds, migrants and refugees are more than affected and vulnerable to feeling lonely and secluded in the UK.

Here, in our country, perhaps the loneliest would be those dumped in jails. We don’t know what’s been happening behind those high walls or in those prison hell- holes. We aren’t aware of the disasters taking place in there…we can’t hear their cries!

Leaving you with these lines of Faiz Ahmad Faiz…these lines for those sitting imprisoned in one way or the other – either in jails or else trapped in their lonely cocoons:

“LOVE’S PRISONERS

Wearing the hangman’s noose, like a necklace,

The singers kept on singing day and night,

kept jingling the ankle-bells of their fetters

and the dancers jigged on

riotously.

We who were neither in this camp nor that

just stood watching them

enviously.

shedding silent tears.

Returning, we saw that the crimson

of flowers had turned pale

and on probing within, it seemed

that where the heart once was

now lingered only stabbing pain.

Around our necks the hallucination of a noose

And on our feet the dance of fetters.”

[end]

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