My dear brother,
Please allow me to introduce myself as a theatre worker currently residing in Bangalore, Karnataka. It has been 9 months since I wrote anything here. I re-begin with this letter, my very first, to you.
Let me, quickly, arrive at the matter of this letter as I believe that you, like many of us, are a busy man, engaged in pursuit of happiness – not just for yourself, but for each fellow citizen.
Brother, the ongoing resistances across the country have resulted in much strife, violence, loss of property, and most disturbingly – deaths of people. And yet, the State chooses to absolve itself of any responsibility and accountability, preferring to blame, persecute, and prosecute the protestors. Does the fault lie with them alone?
Brother, I would like to know what you and your government are doing about it.
Like many in your current government, who have been student leaders themselves – you too are no stranger to resistances and protests. I am certain you also believe that differing views need a nurturing environment of debate and consensus. Our dissenting young must be encouraged to speak up, not stifled; they need to be engaged with, not cast away; every young person shielded, not sacrificed to the wolves. And yet, the current stance of your government is more confrontational than accommodating. Is that a wise way to treat our young?
I would like to know, my brother, what you and your government are doing about it.
My parents – like your own, I am sure – taught me the importance of being honest, to be fair in all interactions, to never mistreat anyone on the basis of caste, colour, creed, religion, gender, or economic position. My teachers in school taught me the same. My Constitution teaches me the same. And yet, some of the orders and bills that you have passed are not only discriminatory and marginalising, but also perhaps, a bit underhanded. Was this the vision of the people beaten, imprisoned, tortured, and even killed so that we could be free?
What, brother, are you and your government doing about this?
I do not need to remind you, my dear brother – that India belongs to you, and me, and to each of us living, and working, and contributing – even in the smallest way – to the being of this country. We, the people of India, through democratic processes, appoint trustees like you and your government to ensure that every person (and not just property) is safe, free, and at peace. And yet, there are voices in your government that are blatantly prejudiced, irresponsibly provocative, brazenly threatening, and deafeningly unapologetic. Do these voices bear any allegiance to our Constitution?
I would like to know, brother, what are you and your government doing about this.
I presume that you may wish to ask me the same questions, so please allow me to place before you some of the things that I am going to do.
Brother, like you, I too have sworn my allegiance to the Constitution of India. I will question every neglect of the values laid out in our Constitution, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.
Brother, I will resist – through songs, stories, conversations – every voice that attempts to discriminate and marginalise my people.
Brother, I promise to create spaces where people with opposing views can sit together and have a humane conversation. Where people can meet as people, even if their views are irreconcilable.
Forgive me, my brother, if my letter offends you in any way. But I had to place my truth before you. I have also taken the liberty of sharing this letter publicly among my people of this country – in the hope that we are reminded that love has eventually, and always won over hate. Look at our history, my brother.
And finally, brother, while this letter is addressed to you – as the current Head of State, I sincerely hope that each reader sees it as being addressed to her and him; and commits to practice Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, so that they do not remain great words to be used in speeches.
Looking forward to your response.