By: Seram Neken
“If Irom Chanu Sharmila fasted for corruption and if Septuagenarian Anna Hazare protested against AFSPA, the matters would have been different. If Sharmila hails from mainland India and if Hazare is a native of Manipur, the vice versa of what is being strongly addressed by the government might have happened. This time, Sharmila expressed her whole-hearted moral support to Anna Hazare’s protest following the latter’s invitation. Had the invitation for joining the protest come from Sharmila to Anna Hazare, would the latter have responded readily ? ”
Great personalities are created where there is respect for human values. The dignity the British attached to Gandhiji as a freedom fighter helped him gain the fame worldwide and glorify his non-violence. Had MK Gandhi been born in a place like Manipur or had he undergone his protests against a government such as that of today’s Manipur, Gandhijis non-violence would not have gained its fame and he would not have been recognized as the father of the nation. Indifference of the rulers might have jeopardized his cause half-way or he might have ended his life in the bullets of mindless security people of this land.
The strikers whom politicians, media persons and the intellectuals are attentive to or glorify most, are considered as strong revolutionaries fighting for the people’s cause. If Irom Chanu Sharmila fasted for corruption and if Septuagenarian Anna Hazare protested against AFSPA, the matters would have been different. If Sharmila hails from mainland India and if Hazare is a native of Manipur, the vice versa of what is being addressed by the government might have happened. Let us examine the importance of the two causes between corruption and human rights, and let us compare the personalities of Sharmila and Hazare. Personality cult seems to out-do the issues. Sharmila has readily extended her support to the cause of Hazare’s protest following the latter’s invitation to join him. However, the nation has not responded to the call of Irom Chanu Sharmila for over ten years.
Sharmila has now become a symbol of peace, in the true sense of the term. She has earned the reputation of having the strongest will and heart for protection of human rights around the globe. She is not a mere striker, but a model of truth and justice. Gandhijis non-violence has been glorified by her personality in the twenty first century. It is not politically motivated and her demands represent the general will of the hapless people residing amidst the draconian laws of democratic India. In spite of neglects and indifference of the rulers for more than a decade, she never goes back. It is natural that Anna Hazare invited Sharmila to join his crusade against corruption. It is more natural that the Iron Lady expressed her moral support to the cause, but declined to join the fast in New Delhi for the Hazare cause. She rather blamed the nation for its indifference to the cause of human right violations.
The national media is highly discriminatory as did the government and political parties at the national level in regard to the dual cases of Sharmila and Hazare. Both strikers have been fighting for the social good, both have been following the non-violent means of fasting. However, Sharmila has almost crossed a decade of fasting, while Hazare’s appearance on the scene is quite recent as compared to the former. However, the national media have been disproportionately viewing the two protests. Intensity of the protests and the causes themselves have to be considered in balance while reporting to the people and drawing government’s attention.
Meanwhile, Dr. Manmohan Singh has written a nice letter to the septuagenarian protester with the highest concern for the latter’s health. In the letter, the Prime Minister says : “Over the last few days, I have watched with increasing concern of your health. Despite the differences between the government and your team, I don’t think that anybody is or should be in any doubt about the deep and abiding concern which I and our government share about your health, arising from your continuing fast. I have no hesitation in saying that we need your views and actions in the service of the nation, from a robust physical condition and not in the context of frail and failing health……..” The emotional care of the leader of the nation towards a Gandhian as shown in the letter is indeed envious and courteous, and highly expected of a leadership where the father of the nation was born. It is really lamentable that during the last more than a decade of Sharmila’s fasting, not a single courtesy of such kind has been exhibited towards her from the end of a nation’s leadership. Barring independent writers, political motivators and select media personalities, the nation has been keeping mum on her cause and protest. Now that Anna Hazare and his cause have gained widespread media coverage and government attention in a comparatively short duration, has reflected some kind of nostalgia in the hearts of the so called Indian citizens residing in the far border hilly state of Manipur. Let us uphold human rights while fighting against corruption at all levels.