Activist Kavita Krishnan visualizes the India of her dream, one that she shares with those who struggle to transform the country
We revolutionaries, who seek to transform society, spend a lot of time re-imagining the world we live in. That does not mean we live in a fool’s paradise. It means that we dream dreams that can be achieved.
We don’t wish on a star. Our wishes, we know, won’t be granted by any gods. The beauty of our dreams lies in the fact that they’re made up of human imagination and human will, and can be shaped and brought to life by human will.
When our imaginations are cramped, our realities too are likely to be the same. When an idea comes to life in our imagination, it is the first step towards bringing it to life in our real world.
We aren’t solitary dreamers. We don’t dream our dreams isolated from others. Our dreams are not a private indulgence or a private solace. These dreams are born in the collective minds of fellow fighters. We dream together, as we fight struggles together. And when others are able to see and share our dreams, the dreams acquire a life beyond our own personal lives. And imagining dreams take courage. The system survives, not only by jailing or killing revolutionaries – but by killing our dreams. ‘Sabse khatarnak hota hai sapnon ka mar jana,’ said Paash (Most dangerous of all is the death of our dreams.)
Today, I will attempt to share some of those many dreams with you, the reader.
In my imagination, I see an India where a woman can roam free – free of the labels of‘wife’, ‘mother’, ‘daughter’, ‘beautiful’, ‘ugly’, ‘goddess’, ‘slut’… Where every child she bears is legitimate, and none seeks to know or prove who the father is. Where every woman is valued irrespective of her ability of choice to bear a child
An India where caring, nurturing, bringing up children, is not assigned as ‘women’s work’. Instead, all around us we are able to see men and women, who change diapers, bathe, feed and clothe children, and feel that mingled feeling of love and pain that being a parent involves.
An India where the birth of a baby is celebrated without worrying about the sex of the child. An India where girls who play sports are not humiliated and accused of being ‘male’, and boys who dance or cook are not taunted for being ‘effeminate.’ An India where brothers no longer feel entitled to hold sisters in ‘bandhan’ in the name of ‘raksha’ – and sisters no longer feel obliged to give brothers a right to control their lives. An India where the love of brothers and sisters is expressed as solidarity with each others’ dreams, as respect and support for each others’ decisions.
An India where it is unknown for the women to have to worry about ‘what people will think’ – about her clothes, the colour of her skin, who she chooses to love, and what she chooses to do with her life.
An India where love – between people of any community or any sex – will not be a crime.
An India where the ugly hierarchy of castes is a forgotten thing of the past. Where the history of the struggles of the oppressed is recognized and celebrated, and the history of oppression is remembered – so as never to repeat it
An India where men do not fear women, citizens do not fear ‘foreigners’. An India that does not fear the fullest freedom of the Dalits, the adivasis, the people of Kashmir or Manipur or Nagaland. An India that is a free union of free people. Where ‘unity’ does not have to mean a regime of fear, or subservience achieved at gun point. An India that does not fear its neighbours – and that does not induce fear in its neighbours. An India that can be trusted to speak up against injustice anywhere in the world.
An India which will recognize the truth: that all value is created by the labour of workers. When workers – the mehnatkash – can ‘demand their rightful share from the world – not a field or a country, but the whole world.’ When we can put behind us the nightmare-India where a tiny few enjoy Antilla-like palaces and the vast majority has no homes; and awaken to a new India where every person can be sure of a home to call their own. Where education and health care of the best quality can be availed by every Indian as a right, rather than being a commodity to be bought by the rich.
An India where ‘justice’ won’t mean a hangman’s noose. Rather, where justice will mean that we as Indian people will have the courage and conscience to face and admit the truths about the violence done in our name, in our country’s name. Where the truth about the rapes and murders of Manorama, Neelofer and Asiya, the rapes of Kunan Poshpora, the mass graves of Kashmir, the little adivasi children killed by paramilitary forces during harvest festivals in Bastar, the cries of pain and humiliation arising from the torture chambers that are called ‘police lock-ups’ all over the country, can be acknowledged by all Indians. Where ‘national pride’ or ‘national security’ will not be equated with tolerance of these crimes against humanity. And where the acceptance of the truth can be foundation of dignity and democracy for India.
An India where ‘work’ does not mean back-breaking, mind-numbing toil that still leaves stomachs hungry. Where a ‘job’ does not come wedded to ‘joblessness.’ An India where people matter, not profits
An India where animals and humans do not need to fear each other and are not thrown into conflict with each other by a short-sighted and greedy economy. An India where the ‘environment’ – land, water, forests, air, flora and fauna – are not seen as ‘commodities’ to be ‘owned’ and ‘exploited’, but as a world we inherit and are duty-bound to enrich and pass on to future generations rather than allow a few greedy men to devour.
Our revolutionary dreams cannot be bounded by the confines of a country. Naturally, those dreams are dreamed for the entire world, not India alone. We dream of a world free of oppression, free of ownership. A world where the many thousands of peoples live in unity, where domination, occupation and war are things of the past. Where work is not inspired by the fear of hunger, where a ‘living’ does not have to be ‘earned’; where instead, human being work and play to express their humanity.
As I said before, there is no copyright on the dreams of revolutionaries. Where do the dreams of Bhagat Singh end and ours begin, after all? That is why, when I try to give my dreams the shape of words, I often find the words of poets and dreamers past come to my lips. So I’ll end with the immortal words from John Lennon’s anthem Imagine –
“You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one, I hope someday you’ll join us, And the world will be one.”
Kavita Krishnan is the secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA). This is the English translation of the article she wrote for Outlook Magazine’s Hindi publication