Reclaim the Republic @ 75
Press Release | August 16, 2021:
It has been 75 years since what we called our “tryst with destiny”. The 75th year ought not to be a time just for mindless celebrations and pomp and splendour. It is a time to reflect, introspect and evaluate ourselves. Have we been able to inherit the destiny we had set for ourselves in our Constitution? Have we been able to live up to the goals for which our freedom fighters and revolutionaries sacrificed their lives? Have we been able to live up to the pledges we had made in our Constitution? An honest and grounded assessment would show us that we have not only failed to achieve several of our aims, we have even betrayed and backtracked on many. So much so that, today even our electoral democracy has come under grave threat, which jeopardizes each and every of our other rights and safeguards.
Our lack of moral compass reflects in the vulgar concentration of wealth in the hands of the fewest. Today 0.0004% of our population owns wealth equivalent to 26.4% of our country’s GDP, this while 189.2 million people are malnourished. We have never been this unequal as we are today in our history, and neither have we ever been this comfortable with the same. Never have we been divided as a nation between the rich and the poor, between communities, between castes. It is a shame that just some days before the Independence Day a few hundred meters away from the Parliament we witnessed death threats being given to the minorities. It is a shame that the captain of the women’s hockey team that made us proud in the Olympics had to plead with us not to hurl casteist abuses to her teammates. This is not what Bismil and Ashfaqullah imagined or Gandhi and Ambedkar dreamt of, or Savitibai Phule and Fatema Sheikh strived for.
Even our hard earned rights and liberties are being snatched away or threatened, be it in terms of labour rights, or reservation and social security. Today, people are being brutally forced to surrender everything they hold dear – for mining, dams, industrial corridors and projects, real estate, thermal power projects, nuclear projects, highways and road infrastructure, ports – all that which will apparently make India a ‘superpower’ to convert these public assets into private monopolies. Each and every public asset of the country – our PSUs like banks, railways, or even our defense – that have been the fulcrum of our nation building process – today is being put up for sale. This further jeopardizes affordable access to resources and services. We have witnessed the fallout of rampant privatization of health even during the viral waves.
The People First, which is a Network of Public Sector Undertakings, Railways, Banking, Insurance officers’ Trade Unions, and Farmers’ movements, Civil Society, Peoples Movements and Science Movement pledges to observe the 75th year – from 15th August 2021 to 15th August 2022 with a series of events, campaigns and programs involving the widest sections of the society. The People First will collaborate and coordinate with other networks, organisations, unions and concerned citizens to take this campaign forward to the masses through public hearings on the vision for future. From national and state level webinars, to regional level conventions in Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Guwahati and Delhi; from participative competitions for students and youth to multilingual cultural events; from public meetings to publications – we will use the whole year to celebrate people’s achievements, count our losses and pledge to reclaim what is lost.
Through our friends in the media, we appeal to all freedom loving, democratic-minded and pro-people voices to extend their support and participate in this year-long series of activities. Let this be a substantive year, and that is not wasted only in hyperboles and rhetoric.
Signatories: AIKS, NAPM, JFME, AIPSN, AIDWA, PARI, PHM, NCOA, SaciWATERs, Delhi Science Forum, BGVS, CITU, HRF, HPVS, BEFI, MKSS, FOCUS, NTUI, PIPFPD, FAN India, People First