Day 22: The Meaning Of Satyamev Jayate
Disclaimer: The following entry has a few instances of foul language used keeping in the spirit of realism.
The Monsoon Rain has an inexplicable finality to it’s downpour; it embraced the earth with each and every drop that constituted it’s watery existence, not knowing, and perhaps not caring as to the worries of Indians that it had been privy to from the past two weeks; as it twisted, turned and swirled along the rooftops, and drain pipes, overhearing the dining room discussions between parents and children, along the footpaths, roads and ditches, muddied and carrying the refuse of the cities, towns and villages, eavesdropping on the arguments, rants, and discussions of friends, and strangers in the restaurants, malls, and humble coffee and chat stalls, watering the fields and grasslands, not knowing of the gratitude of the farmers, all along it’s journey to reunite with the origin of it’s existence; the mighty oceans that roared along the peninsula that history knew as the Indus, Sapta-Sindhu, Hindustan, Bharata, and now, in modern times, India.
I wondered, as I sipped my hot coffee, with the foam encircling my lips as they curled into a smile, basking in the feedback posted on the links to my previous blog entry, if indeed the rain knew, and if it cared about my thoughts that I shared on my blog as it pattered by my bed-side window.
Out of the blue, my phone buzzed to life with a text from a friend who I had last had words with a lifetime ago.
I never liked to text much, or talk on the phone for that matter. Although I had many a chat with people on the internet, one of my character quirks was that I hated using a cell phone, doing so only if I urgently needed a piece of information from someone. I was, as a corollary to this axiom, quite surprised when I got texted first, especially if it happened to be a long lost contact.
As my blog follows a strict policy of anonymity dealing with my friends and loved ones; let’s for convenience sake address him as Mitro, a name that literally translates as “friend” in Bengali, which incidentally happened to be the mother tongue of our President-elect, Pranab Mukherjee.
It read: “You’ve become quite an opinionated blogger, you chooth. What’s up?”
I was happy, and yet puzzled as to how he remembered my existence after two long, and distant years. Mitro had been a good friend and confidant in my plus-2, but life took us along different roads and we gradually lost touch though we had exchanged numbers with every intention to keep the friendship alive.
I replied: “Since when have you started reading my blog, fuckface?”.
Mitro was one of the most opinionated guys I knew from those days, and in spite of the immense knowlege that he possessed of politics and current affairs, over which we had several animated debates in between the most boring of Chemistry lectures, he had never shown an inclination of reading novels, or for that matter, blogs.
He answered with a cliche: “Times change, People Change. So, how are things?”
Mitro was a bigger asshole than me when it came to using a mobile phone. He was never the guy who’d call first. Instead, he would nudge you and prod you into calling him, without saying as much. And this one line was his most direct way of asking you to stop texting and call him instead. I dialled his number with an air of exasperation that one would have when it came to dealing with a stingy friend. A friend, but stingy nonetheless.
We caught up over the next 2 hours; talking about our present colleges, our lifestyles, the vices that we had acquired, peppered with the occassional mention of a past teacher or classmate; basically the sort of stuff that only two long lost friends would have spoken of; and not you, the reader would have had an interest of knowing.
Eventually the conversation veered around to the subject of my previous blog entry. “You’ve still remained much of an idealist” , he said. “Did you actually think that these old farts would back a non political dude like Kalam?”.
I took his jibe sportingly ” My entry wasn’t as much as about wanting to see Kalam contest as it was about Kalam being needed as a President. That hag Patil hasn’t really been what you’d call a President. She’s just Sonia’s gatekeeper. So is Pranab, to a lesser extent.”
“The problem is”, he said after a long pause on the other end, “It’s not just the Congress, but each and every party that’s in Parliament right now that’s so engrossed in wheeling and dealing that they’ve forgotten what the people want. It’s just a game to see who’s the wiliest, not who’s the most statesmanly.”
“But still, what Mulayam did Mamata was a plain backstab!” , I retorted “I thought these guys would atleast be honest to one another. And look what happened!”
I could have sworn I heard a muffled laugh.
“Dude, grow up, there’s no way in hell these rascals would stay honest to each other. I doubt they’re honest with their own family members. After all, this is India we’re talking about. Forget the politicians, even the businessmen, celebrities, and many among us, as are all liars. Honesty is just a pipe-dream that some obstinant old man like Gandhi had forced down upon our throats. And look what we’ve done. After he died, we just put up a lion post, scribbled the bottom with a corny one liner like “Satyamev Jayate” and went back to what we’re best at: being unabashed liars. Anyway, I have some work to catch up on. It’s been nice talking to you bro. We ought to talk like this more.”
“Yeah”, I said, reeling from that dose of sobering reality. “See you later then.”
Click! And the line went dead.
I had to wonder though. Was he right? I couldn’t help but google up the Indian National Emblem on my laptop. And each and every image result brought up exactly that which he had described. Three majestic lions, with an additional one hidden from view, and the line “Satyamev Jayate” that had been inscribed at the bottom, in addition to a horse and an elephant with a dharma chakra that he had failed to describe. I didn’t mind his inaccuracy but it was the motto that struck me hard.
“Satyamev Jayate”. The Truth Alone Triumphs.
“But does truth really triumph?”, I asked myself. A common answer that I had encountered during many a coffee table debate to the perennial question over India’s Corruption was that people in India weren’t honest or brave enough to come forward with the truth. That even if a few good people actually had the guts to come forward and expose corruption, like how Satyajit Dubey or Manjunath Shanmugham did, they’d be murdered in cold blood by some hired muscle of the perpetrators and continue doing what they did best: pocketing money that was not meant to be looted by them.
And yet, in this age of 24X7 news, I would have led myself to believe that at least the glare and scrutiny of the media would help such people come forward and be backed up from the constant threats that came from the accused. I remembered how the media helped bring justice to Jessica Lall and made a hero out of her sister Sabrina who had fought a lonely battle to get the murderer, Manu Sharma convicted. And she still remained unharmed to this day. Even a movie, “No One Killed Jessica”, was made on her struggle. But for every Sabrina that sees the light of the day, there’s also a Ruchika Girhotra.
Ruchika Girhotra’s case was one that had acquired an air of outrage in recent times. Ruchika was a budding Tennis player who, at the age of 14 was molested by Inspector General Of Police, SPS Rathore. Girhotra had complained against this sexual abuse, and after seeing her family, and especially her brother being subjected to abuse and intimidation from the police under Rathore, had committed suicide. In the trial that followed, which itself gave a verdict 19 years after the incident, Rathore was let off with a 6 month jail sentence, and bail was granted a few minutes after sentencing. Rathore’s smiling celebration of victory was replayed over and over again, amplifying the highly charged atmosphere that had surrounded the case.
A media campaign titled “Justice for Ruchika” had followed. Signature campaigns were conducted. And inspite of everything that had followed and had been covered to every minute detail by the media, the case had died a quiet death a few days back: The CBI filed a closure report dropping the charges of torture meted out to Ruchika’s brother, and Rathore is currently out on bail having served 6 months of an 18 months sentence that was obtained on appealing the original verdict. The Girhotras have allowed the CBI to file the report, and while it has been challenged by her friend Aradhana Gupta’s family, the very fact that her own blood has given up shows the perversity of the system.
And I have to wonder at times, is “Satyamev Jayate” just a slogan that’s now being appropriated by Aamir Khan for his path-breaking show? Instead of debating whether or not Aamir Khan’s being a saint by hosting this show, instead of posting Facebook and Twitter updates over the issue of the week and then moving on to the next one the next week, we all need to stop this madness and look at the national emblem that’s in our currency, on our passports, and on top of the caps worn by our policemen and armed forces.
Are we deserving as a nation to have a lofty ideal like Honesty being included on our national emblem in the form of “Satyamev Jayate”? Is a country like India where forget Justice, even closure on the most trivial of matters like property disputes takes decades to reach, does Truth Really Triumph?
My argument had reach it’s crescendo. And the rain, oblivious to the upheaval that had happened inside my head, continued to pour.