We! Who?

by | Feb 19, 2020

The most awaited event of the year was almost there and the students of Tamarind Tree were super excited to attend it. The camp night on the 25th of January every year. This is that one day of the year when all the students’ post class fourth come together and get a full overnight fun time, watching movies playing games and not sleeping the whole night, talking to friends, yummy food and a lot of pillow fights. It was finally here. The day started with the screening of a few advertisements. Everyone had a big laugh because that’s how advertisements appear – over dramatic and funny. A discussion was held after on how they normalize something as gender biases by stereotyping (even ads like kinder joy, not that there is an exception). The students participated in a game with a discussion on – roles of gender in society. Later, the fun part began when students slack lined and played other fun games. You should see the amount of energy these kids had and then top it with excitement. Woah! Such a bang … and here was my old soul which already felt tired, can’t match up to the kids anymore!

The evening started with a screening of Dor for the elder kids and Karate Kid for the younger ones, again followed by a discussion to pinpoint freedom, cultural rigidity just to raise consciousness. The students participated well and it seemed they did observe the untold realities, which they might have witnessed, passed by sometime in their life or just know about. Some might have not but to ignite that spark this seemed to work. With so much of intensity flow, a wave of dance followed to mellow down the atmosphere. The highly energetic Tarpa (Warli tribal dance) went on almost till midnight.

And then just before midnight the lights were shut. As the school is already surrounded by a lot of trees, it was pitch dark and cold wind was gushing touching the leaves and making a light sound. All the students sat in silence and just at the stroke of midnight — there was light, all bright. All nooks and corners were lit. This marked as an introduction to the Republic Day and our Constitution. This time it was just a ten minutes introduction to why Republic Day is celebrated and what the is Constitution. On this note, the night ended and students went back to their rooms. Most of them didn’t sleep throughout and didn’t even let me; or any other facilitators.

Yet, all were up and ready by 7am to attend the Zila Parishad Republic Day function, where we walked in the morning mellow cold for flag hoisting. A young and small girl assuming class 5 or 6 recited the Constitution on a single breath in Marathi. And she did it twice saying such difficult words with such ease. The highlight of the day for me.

Representative image

These activities were important to introduce and discuss the larger issues amidst the current situations. There was a circular forwarded to all schools in Maharashtra, a few days before Republic Day where knowing the preamble was termed compulsory for the students. As a part of this drill, the preamble was already up and made available to our students in our Learning Management System – My Big Campus. Today, the first discussion was held. We took the first five words WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, for this discussion. It started with a screening of a few seconds of Bharat Ek Khoj series.

Here Jawahar Lal Nehru is addressing a group of villagers asking who are we the people? It is a very though-provoking question. But have we ever asked ourselves that? What do we mean by the people of India? Even I don’t have an answer … but I have thoughts.

For one, the idea of a nation and nationality that didn’t even exist before the colonial times came to play during the war of independence and has held so much ground and spread its roots that today it holds importance even to mark our existence. I still ask who are we the people of India. People who have lived here? People who came and settled here? Who exactly, and who decides that? Secondly, the confusion that people still have as Hindustan meaning land where the majority is people following Hindu religion, whereas the meaning of Hindustan is as a geographic term for the Indo-Gangetic plain. Hindustan is made up of two words, ‘Hind’ and ‘Stan’. Hind in the Arabic language translates to ‘Ind’ in Latin, as in Indus river. Thus, pointing to the land where river Indus flows. Hence Hindustan has nothing to do with any religion. But why do people believe and practice so? Finally, how do we distinguish who are the people of India? Are they black, white, green, blue, lilac rose gold or platinum?

A few of the burning questions indeed. There could have not been a better introduction to the constitution to our students. As far as I remember, my blurred memories of reading a preamble was in a black and white history and civics book and mugging it up for the exams and writing the exact definition, with not even a word misplaced. This makes so many of us same, as impressive as that girl from Zila Parishad school who recited it in front of a big audience twice, with no meaning attached to it but just as mere words instructed to mug up, as a circulator demanded so or an exam demanded so. We have lost the meaning of so many things and the result we all see today. With intuitions burning and everyone bonded in the shackles of so-called freedom, justice, and equality. Is this the freedom we asked for? My thoughts are and will be never-ending. But there is no better way to end this with something that is already said and known, let’s read it with all depth and conscious awakening this time or just try at least

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high

Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let the people awake

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