IBN CNN, probably the best English news channel in the country, was broadcasting a unique programme, Real Heroes on 22.3.2009 at 10.00 p.m. A year ago the channel, in collaboration with Reliance Industries, decided to find out little-known Indians who have taken initiatives to change India in their own way. Away from the spotlight of media, both print and electronic, they are trying to change the destinies of men and women, and also children, who have fallen behind in the race of life or have been condemned to an under-privileged existence. This year the channel had picked up 20 such heroes whom it had invited to honour in a grand function attended by business leaders, film stars and sports personalities. For a change, the channel was celebrating the unknown and under-privileged achievers than the famous and the powerful. One such real hero was the sixteen-year old Babar Ali from Murshidabad, West Bengal who has taken it upon himself to educate the children of his village which has neither government nor private schools. Ali’s school has no building. He runs it in the open or under a tree. Understandably the school has no furniture except an old chair on which Babar Ali rarely sits. The students, children of the village of varying age groups sit on the ground and Ali quickly walks through them, guiding, encouraging, inspiring and helping them learn and write.
The anchor of the programme, Real Heroes, invited Ali to receive his award, who slowly started walking towards the dais when, all of sudden, the channel began to air news about the Election Commission’s unprecedented decision to reprimand Varun Gandhi for having delivered an inflammatory and communally-charged hate speech in U.P. It was sad to note that in comparison with Varun Gandhi the channel gave less importance to those whom it had described as “Real Heroes”.
Sixteen-year old Ali is a Muslim. People of his age are not expected to launch initiatives like educating village children who do not have access to any formal school. And see this Muslim teen-ager is preoccupied with learning and teaching. His action is noble and inspiring. He is teaching children to learn and write. He is not raising his hands against Hindus, which Varun Gandhi wants to cut.
Men like Varun Gandhi are well-placed to do a lot of good to India. We have three hundred million people who are illiterate and under-nourished. They suffer from economic as well as intellectual poverty and deserve a helping hand, and not the punishment that Varun Gandhi is proposing for them. It is easy to deliver a hate-speech or destroy a life. But doing constructive things like building the lives of village-children is a noble prophetic mission, which the dark forces Varun Gandhi has chosen to champion are unable to comprehend.
Varun Gandhi might succeed in polarizing people in his constituency and reap rich electoral dividends. But he has lost the esteem that people would have exhibited towards a scion of Gandhi-Nehru family. He has degraded himself in the eyes of millions and millions of people in order to champion the cause of a few lunatics. What a bad bargain he has made.
The way the BJP has reacted to the advice of the Election Commission speaks volumes about the shape of things to come. It is abundantly clear that they would try utmost to vitiate the atmosphere in U.P. This is the state which had given them enough MPs to form government in Delhi. And it is their decline in U.P. which worries them the most. The road to Delhi goes through U.P. where the BJP is expected to fare poorly.
BJP knows the reasons for its continuous poor showing in U.P. The caste configuration in the state does not favour it. And, misery upon misery, they have lost the Muslim votes forever that constitute over 18 per cent of the electorate in U.P. Not only Muslims but also Hindus have understood BJP’s communal and divisive agenda. They have refused to be fooled any longer by their temple agenda. The BJP is short, nay, bereft of ideas. Therefore, they are hell bent on communalizing the atmosphere in U.P. through venomous hate speeches.
And in the communally-charged situation which BJP is seeking to create in the country, the Muslim masses as well as leaders would be well-advised to follow into the footsteps of Babar Ali. For, education alone is key to success. Also it is the best strategy to counter and frustrate the nefarious designs of the BJP.