Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Calling against injustice

I wrote this a while back when I was in Sri Lanka, just got around to posting it:

Last night, I watched an Indian movie called ‘Rang De Basanti’ at the cinema with my dad. It was a story about five university students who get channelled to act in a documentary about the legendary independence heroes and eventually end up mirroring the same acts against the corruption that exists in Indian politics nowadays. This movie has caused much controversy in India since its release, with the Indian police requesting the movie to be banned from cinemas. Watching it last night, many feelings arose within me – one of the main being if I was Indian, I would be very proud of my nation right then.

Our independence right now is largely owed to the heroic acts of many Indians – including Mangal Pandey, Baghat Singh, Chandrashekar Azad and Gandhi to name but a few. It is not owed to the Sri Lankan elite such as SWRD Bandaranaike who were mere sycophants to the British rule. When India was in revolt, what were we doing? So how can two populations of people separated merely by a strait be that different? What do the Indians fight for that we can’t? India is a country steeped with cultures, values and traditions. The religions are held with the highest esteem with its followers – so if anyone treads past the religious boundaries they will revolt. Their history and culture are as treasured – if there is a danger to this, they will revolt. What do we have? Buddhist monks entering parliament and revolting against the peace process. So where can the lay Buddhist look for an example as to how to be a true Buddhist? Ours is a system where the rich are rich and the poor very poor; and the politicians exploiting this setup without feeling the need to rectify it. They, come election time, pick at the sore wounds of the poor by emphasising issues of nationalism and religious sovereignty simply to win their vote. When they enter parliament, do they remember the people who put them there? NO. I am speaking words that have echoed since independence so let me return to the topic at hand.

This film follows on from the legend of Mangal Pandey – which was solely based on the British rule – by first presenting the image of the horrific British rule and then drawing parallels with the current political situation in India. The only difference been the guns were ordered to be fired by a white man then and now its one of their own. It reiterates that someone needs to say this is wrong and take a wilful stand against it – or else it will continue. This is most important to us as Sri Lankans. With an imminent war that have been terrorising us for the past 22 years – isn’t it time someone says we wont let you kill our innocent children for your benefit? If the war is necessary for the security of our state, if no other compromise can be reached, then yes these soldiers won’t die in vain. BUT if they are going into battle just to fatten up some man in Colombo’s pockets, then NO that is not okay. We cannot sit by and watch this.

I presume this is what the film asks us to think. That it is not okay what is going on in this world right now and we can take a stand against it. Drawing parallels with the rise against the British rule of the previous century, why don’t Sri Lankans do anything? Are we too scared? Yes. No one wants to stand up against the bad guy. Even me for I sit and write these words and were I to take action, I will be too scared of death to do anything of substance. Perhaps as a nation we are too cowardly to rise up against injustice. Perhaps we are just used to looking to the Indians to provide our independence. Be it from the British or corruption.

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