On this occasion, he talked about how the ones who speak form an entirely different ‘jaat’ of their own. They come from the upper class, influential families, with many contacts and resources at their disposal. Usually, males, these ‘speakers’ insist that they are anti-caste. Even though starting from their very name down to their action, everything screams caste and class discrimination, and yet they pretend to talk in favor of equality.
In his work field, Mr. Kumar comes across many downtrodden people who come to him with their complaints, hoping he would speak for them. When he asked them why they don’t speak up themselves, he received a very meek answer; ‘Hum Kaise Kuch bole, Saab?’(How can we say anything, Sir?)
This is the condition of India today. Our Constitution guarantees Freedom of Speech, but people are afraid to speak up. And why wouldn’t they be, I ask? Every other day we see someone losing their job for speaking up, those who can’t be fired get transferred to an obscure place where there is no hope for a bright future, or else they get subdued due to some reason or another. Hence, Mr. Kumar insists that speaking is a privilege, not a right in this country!
He talks about how people speak up when there is an incident like the Nirbhaya case, but the same people say absolutely nothing when the rate of rape of Dalit women increases by 500%. This fact is very distressing. Do we really not care about anything but ourselves? In a country where women are worshiped, a crime against women should attract severe and immediate punishments, but nobody seems to be slightly agitated.
He also questioned the point of watching the same news on fifty different news channels. This question struck me at my core. If we have 50 different news channels, we should have 50 different news and leave aside the headlines. Why don’t we see a news piece on the wall built in Haryana to isolate an entire caste? Is Modi’s dress code, he had tea with Obama so important that every news channel talked about it and not about the thousands of workers who earn only Rs. 15 after a hard day’s labor?
This seminar was not only something that we listened to, but it was an eye-opener as well. As we were listening to the lecture, a particular question surfaced in most of our minds. ‘Kya sunnwale sunna chahte hai?’ (Do the listeners want to listen?) The same question was voiced by one of the students. The news channels only telecast the news that has the potential to bring up their TRPs. They will showcase news that grabs our attention. Thus, the marginalized and their problems remain unheard of.
This brings us to the next question. ‘What are we supposed to do if we do not know that a particular problem even exists?’ This question left me with a feeling of helplessness. I didn’t quite understand that the people who are being neglected are also consumers; they too are voters. So, how can the members of the parliament ignore them and their problems? And then I realized that ensuring votes by campaigning just before elections is an easy task for those who know how and when to speak. That’s the time some of these ‘speakers’ make hollow promises to the downtrodden to ensure their votes. But, mark my words; there will soon come when the silent ones aren’t silent anymore. That will be a day to witness!
Indraprastha College for Women
Interests: Music, Movies, Reading, Writing.