Ranjona Banerji: The India that I don't want in '18

Dec 27, 2017, 06:15 IST | Ranjona Banerji

I don't want a country that's unidimensional when it comes to culture, religion, ethnicity, thought, beliefs and knowledge, or in any way at all

This week is all tied up with the demands of the calendar. It counts down, and you do too. People can scream till they're blue in the face that time is a construct, that this calendar is worthless compared to that and anything else they want. People will still celebrate New Year's Eve on December 31 and not on March 31 or April 13, or any other date that a New Year is celebrated on.

Then there are lists to be made -the best of and worst of, what to achieve and what to hope for. I'm no good at resolutions and I'm not interested in the best and the worst. So that leaves hope. It's in short supply but I've made a list of what I don't want our country to be like any more.

I do not want a country where writers, artists, filmmakers are not free to create whatever they want out of fear of small vested interest groups. File pic
I do not want a country where writers, artists, filmmakers are not free to create whatever they want out of fear of small vested interest groups. File pic

I don't want a country where a woman cannot marry a man of her choice without everyone from the Supreme Court downwards getting involved.

I don't want a country where a woman cannot marry a man of her choice without political thugs creating a ruckus outside her house.

I don't want a country where a child dies of hunger because she cannot access government benefits for some specious reasoning over a voluntary ID card that is being forced upon us.

I do not want a country where leprosy patients are deprived of rations because they have no fingerprints and become non-existent under the new biometric regime.

I do not want a country where the prime minister expresses grief after a murder or an attack or violent death, depending on the religion of the victim.

I do not want a country where we are monitored, watched, harangued, harassed, stalked, cheated and spied upon because of an identity card.

I do not want a country where our fundamental right to privacy is impinged upon at every step.

I do not want a country where you are called 'anti-national' because of your religion, your ethnicity, your political leanings, your face, your dress, your choice of a wedding location.

I don't want a country where you can be killed, lynched, beaten up, abused on the mere suspicion of transporting a cow or eating beef or eating anything at all.

I do not want a country where we surrender all our thought processes to politicians, no matter how much we might admire them.

I do not want a country where students are jailed or attacked for having thoughts.

I do not want a country that is unidimensional when it comes to culture, religion, ethnicity, thought, beliefs and knowledge or in any way at all.

I do not want a country where governments sacrifice vital aspects of our environment to chase some ephemeral short-term 'development' goals.

I do not want a country where our celebrities are terrified to speak out against the government or politicians or about social wrongs because they are more bothered about their image or of losing favours.

I do not want a country where writers, artists, filmmakers are not free to create whatever they want out of fear of small vested-interest groups that apparently cannot be controlled.

I do not want a country where the discourse is controlled by narrow-minded, petty and ill-informed political groups.

I do not want a country where a person's religious identity trumps everything else.

I do not want a country where arbitrary and selfish political decisions can impoverish everyone at one malevolent stroke.

I do not want a country where caste oppressions are accepted as normal after 70 years of Independence and growth and development and after being abolished by our Constitution over 67 years ago.

I do not want a country where children are not taught all of our history, warts and all, and instead are left ignorant and floundering.

I do not want a country where a government accountant can take the whole country for a ride with no consequences.

I do not want a country where you cannot eat, wear, think, feel without being bullied or instructed or arrested.

I do not want a country where we have been made into victims by bullies we are too scared to stand up to.

I do not want to be a country where women are constantly being constrained by patriarchy.

I do not want a country where we have wasted all the freedom that was so hard fought for and won.

What I do want is for us to have a Happy New Year and see you on the other side!

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist. You can follow her on Twitter @ranjona. Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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