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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 6, New Delhi, January 23, 2021

Citizens’ Commitment to Harmony, Mutual Help, Equality and Justice Will Provide Hope in Difficult Times | Bharat Dogra

Friday 22 January 2021, by Bharat Dogra

India has been passing through exceptionally difficult times. Millions have faced increased hunger, deprivation and disruption of livelihood. Many people are saddened more than before by discrimination and hostility based on religion. All this happens in times of confusion, uncertainty and fear created by a pandemic, increasing health problems and difficulties in accessing normal health care.

In the middle of these increasing problems appear thousands of small but significant stories of people helping each other, of people overcoming their own constraints to reach out to people in need of urgent help, of medical and sanitation personnel working in very difficult conditions, of people going all out to spread the message of communal harmony in adverse conditions, of people standing up with exceptional courage for the sake of justice, of social movements creating spaces of strength even in the most tough situations.

Despite the onslaughts of authoritarian forces on democratic dissent and protests, people have found the courage to build strong resistance against efforts and new laws to curb the rights of workers and farmers. Opposition to numerous acts of injustice has been mobilized somehow. Numerous small acts of ordinary citizens have provided much needed help to victims of injustice and disruption. Even retired civil servants, elderly farmers, ageing writers and journalists, kindly grandmothers anxious for the safety and well-being of their children and grandchildren have joined the voices and mobilizations for justice.

It is all these people and their efforts together that have kept alive hope amidst exceptionally difficult times. All this will be needed even more in the new year 2021. Each small effort for helping those in distress, each voice raised against injustice will not go in vain; these will help to strengthen hope and resilience. And from all these efforts and voices, gradually the contours of justice and equality based changes will begin to emerge to lead the way towards a society based on harmony and equality.

At the global level the most predominant—and worrying— reality is that of the steady accentuation of the survival crisis. All the latest news on climate change and related environmental problems point to a deepening survival crisis which can endanger the basic life-nurturing conditions of our planet. Another threatening factor comes from the accumulation of weapons of mass destruction. In addition to the persisting danger of nuclear weapons, we are now faced with increasing risks from robot weapons, space warfare possibilities and perhaps also from biological weapons. Again, in this wider global context also, numerous small efforts of deeply concerned groups and persons continue to provide hope not only in this context but also in the context of other important issues of environment protection, justice and peace. However these efforts have to increase much more and have to be joined by many more people to make a decisive impact before it is too late.

The writer is a journalist who has been involved with several social movements. His latest books include Planet in Peril and When the Two Streams Met ( Freedom Movement of India).

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