Anti-CAA protests: We salute the courage to speak out, says Medha Patkar

Updated: Jan 04, 2020, 08:21 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

Social activist Medha Patkar and RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi speak at IIT-B's Techfest, which kicked off on Friday

Medha Patkar and Shailesh Gandhi at the IIT-B tech fest
Medha Patkar and Shailesh Gandhi at the IIT-B tech fest

"You need courage and confidence to speak out and that is what is happening at Jamia Millia University and other institutes across the nation. We salute it," said renowned social activist Medha Patkar while speaking at Techfest – an annual cultural festival of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay on Friday.

With the three-day fest kicking off, Patkar and RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi attended the event to be part of a series of talks. While the primary focus of their talk was activism, they could not ignore the issue of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) given the current socio-political situation in the country.

Speaking at the event, Gandhi said, "India is the world's largest democracy. When I was in school, I was told democracy is for the people, by the people and of the people. If we ask citizens whether this is the rule, the obvious answer is no. We call it a democracy may be only because of the right to vote. We need to think why our government does not work." He added that it was important as activists to prepare the government to bring about a change and not just blame it.

He continued, "Today there are many talks about patriotism and nationalism. Though they are useful, it cannot change anything. If we stand in front of the flag the whole day and shout 'Bharat Mata ki Jai', will anything change in India? Nothing. Patriotism is something slightly deeper. One must feel that one has to work towards bringing a change. Symbolism is useful but the commitment to make a better India is what I call activism."

Speaking about creating more activists, Patkar said, "Let's not talk about citizenship in these times. Today there are more attacks and atrocities on the freedom of expression. There needs to be courage to talk against it. It takes guts to bear the consequences."

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