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Reminiscence of an Oldest Old

Bishnu (94), a poor oldest old was about 12 years old when India celebrated its 1st Independence Day. He was from a poor upper caste Hindu family and his family occupation was Jajmani. But his father was struggled for India’s freedom and his father was in jail for at least 2 years to protest against the torture of the British. His mother was also indirectly participated in freedom movement. She handed over her last (jewelry ornaments) to the Azad Hindi Government. Their hero was obviously ‘Netaji Subhash Bose’. However, Bishnu was all aware about Independence, and he was a dream for a new country. He hoped for a new Nation from his childhood. He faced the problems of hunger and ill-health and other sorts of unexpected evils in his and his neighbours’ lives. He was so happy thinking about the shape of his new Nation It would eradicate all evils and would promote a healthy living of the countrymen. He was also curious that now every child would enjoy the scope of education and it would remove darkness of the Society.

The people’s government in India had taken the oath in free India. People got their voting rights. He voted first time in the 2nd general election. He voted first with joy and hope as well as enthusiasm. But he was dubious when Pt. Nehru was unable to bring changes as expected by his fellow countrymen. He was unhappy when Nehru government was followed and framed anti-Netaji policy and programme. He shared, ‘we were very much disheartened when corruption had been taking vital part in free India.’

The country had to face numerous problems, and government was not strategically succeeded to tackle it. Therefore, among these, the food crisis had been raised its ugly heads. The countrymen were divided into groups of rich and poor. Strategies for employment generation and other for a new Nation were weak. Discrimination and exploitation welcome to raise extremism like the Naxalite Movement.

Politics brought multilayered changes in the social, economic and culture life. Scientific progress and educational development strengthened the country’s face value to the world’s larger community. But our basic problems of poverty and ill- health and other sufferings among poor are in static position. Panchayat Raj and land reforms had significantly impacted. It gradually erases caste differences and strengthens people’s participation in all social and economic development. People’s participation has been strengthened at grassroots when they take the major role in their local area development and so forth. Importantly democracy strengthens social bonding and social responsibilities of community. But it is further a matter of depression when politics makes people self-centered for fulfillment of self-interest. It brings divisions among people and it makes rich to richer and poor to poorer. Politics and democracy become the properties of a particular group (minority of the population actively in politics)  This group is committed to meet their own purpose rather than the interests of larger section of the country. Government becomes an event of the political parties and whole society is being politicalized.

Government has failed to socially and economically protect the people. Election has become a violent battle. ‘When we were voted first, it was an event of joy and glory. We had not faced any obstacle and it was an individual right’. He also shared, now we live in truncated society. Social bonding has become weak, and people are in too much greed. They have forgotten their social responsibility (even duties and responsibilities towards their family). Education has been reached to the majority. They are degree holders. But they have rare qualities of an educated. Today, village youth has to migrate in search of a  job. Local jobs are almost nothing. Agriculture fields are uncultivated.’

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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Written by Harasankar

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