Monday, October 10, 2011

a Revolutionary, a Rockstar, and a system in Ruins

Malcolm X | Sadda Haq | Quality (and reach) deficit in our Education System | Well these three words/phrases – a book, a song and an issue – sum my current state of mind.

The other day I was curled up in a sofa at my sister’s place with the autobiography of Malcolm X and was bugging Ishita, my niece, to tune in to a channel where I can listen to any Rockstar song. Just when I was about to give up on my curiosity for this song after almost fifteen minutes of irritating her, the tube flashed a poster titled “Negative” and here walked in Ranbir Kapoor as the music went on. The song was Saadda Haq. A desperate book in hand, an intense song in eyes and ears, and a forever lingering thought in my head – I had never been so present with myself to anything in recent times… my body, my eyes, my ears and my mind… all full blown open and functioning to their highest capacity!!!

Though all these things sound hysterically disconnected at first glance, they are actually, very deeply connected with, or at least echo, each other. In fact they deserve separate posts, however after discussing it with myself, I zeroed in on the idea of presenting them together, here.

For those who may not know who Malcolm X is, he was the greatest (presumably) human rights activist for African Americans in the era of 1950’s. Here I am not presenting my views in support or against of his ideology or action. I just wish to share three things in this book that deeply intrigued me –

1) Malcolm’s openness to new ideas and single-minded devotion for changing things around for himself and his people. The way this man catapulted from ‘being who he was’ to ‘who he became’ is sheer amazing. If whatever said in the book is true, I must say this man personified Belief.
2) His adaptability in times of greatest psychological crisis. I could only imagine, that too not to the fullest, what he must have gone through in his days of separations from the Nation of Islam and his break up with his God-like guru, Elijah Mohammad.

3) How an identity (a religious one here), in times of a great social crisis, can lift people from the mess they are in.

All the above points root from a single issue – people devoid of or snatched away with their basic human rights. Lost in this fascinating book, when I heard this song for the first time, only two words were exhaled from inside me, “Oh fuck!!!”

I am not too sure how and where the song is placed in the movie, but in my current context when I am into this book (and Ishita would know what I mean by it) it could have never been so well timed. Whatever Malcolm X, or for that matter any oppressed human being, would have had to say to reclaim his rights and honor, this song says it all… Sadda Haq… Aithe Rakh!

Fabulous lyrics (Irshad Kamil). Awesome composition (A R Rahman). Sexy vocals (Mohit C). And beautiful visuals (Ranbir K and Imtiyaz Ali). With such rockstars, the song was born to be a rockstar. Check out this opening part of the song – “Marzi se jeene ki bhi main… Kya tum sabko main arzi doon… Matlab ki tum sabka mujhpe… Mujhse bhi zyada haq hai”, which is loosely translated as “If I have to live as I would want, will I have to write an application to you for that? Which means you own me more than I myself do?”

Doesn’t it echo what Malcolm or Gandhi or Bhagat Singh fought for? Or what thousands of Naxalites, Kashmiris, Palestinians, Afghans, and so many others are still fighting for? Please note, I am NOT commenting or supporting on the methods they employ to voice their concerns. Rather I am commenting only on ‘their voices’. If a society sickens one of its sections economically, politically and educationally (all or some of it), it is bound to boomerang; in what form, only the sufferer can decide.

Malcolm in his book says, and I firmly believe, that the most dangerous person in the world is the one devoid of or not provided with their rights, more so educational rights. Education, of all, is one right that when compromised or not provided with, will actually pose issues for the society that debars it for its people than the people themselves, who are debarred with it.

If you are a little aware of what is happening in Education sector, you will hear Mr. Murthy saying IITians are loosing the content and blaming coaching centers for it. You will hear coaching centers blaming JEE for it and claiming that they merely are responding what JEE is asking for. Higher Education blaming Primary and Secondary Education for not providing with enough educated students and the later blaming the entire system for not equipped to groom children well. And by the way, this discussion is for only that small section of our society which can actually avail education through all these levels. There are millions of children (and adults) who have been devoid of their basic right of education (and discussing quality would be a joke here). The sooner we pull our education system out of ruins, the better. Coz’ the day they realize it and ask us “sadda educational haq… aithe rakh”, they will only decide in which way they do it. And God forbid, if they choose violence or separation, can we really complain then?