That’s been the question, I have been struggling with, lately.
Every time, I hear the Indian politicians make those lofty speeches, my thoughts have always ranged from the most violent one – “These politicians should be all shot to death and hanged publicly”, to the most cynical one – “Yeh India hai, sab kuch chaltha hai”,(This is India, just ignore it !)
Yes, I do wish, all the time, I can just go and shoot them all…!! But my obligations, my family and above all, my lack of guts will never allow me to do this and these thoughts would just be a figment of my imaginations.
And the question keeps asking me the same thing .. A slap or a fast ? I have too many excuses, that stops me from doing the slap …
So, here I am .. 36 hours, since I last ate or drank anything. First time in my life, I have survived on just my saliva.
The last morsel of food or a drop of liquid was on Monday around 8PM .. and its now about 8AM Wednesday morning and I am staring at this bowl of cornflakes and milk.!! To eat or not to eat ? that is the dilemma .. (to misquote Shakespeare )
A 40 year old Engineer, weighing 100+ kilograms, depriving himself the one thing, he loves the most — FOOD !! My wife is now fostering the hopes of regaining her rightful place.
Having lived in the US for so long, I have been fortunate enough to experience various world cuisines. Most people eat to live, while the rest like me, until now, had always believed that I was born only to eat !! The thought of fasting intentionally for a cause, had never ever occured to me.
The most, I have ever done, for a cause or for a poor man, is to donate money etc. (Apart from doing a “LIKE” or “SHARE” in Facebook)
So why did I chose fasting and nothing else ?
The answer lies in that feeling of helplessness, that once drove me out of a corrupt & hopeless system, in search of a better future.
The answer also lies in those dreams of various kinds of violent acts, I wish to do against these corrupt politicians, but cannot, for all the above mentioned reasons.
And then I came across, a seemingly quixotic idea, on August 16th 2011 by Shri Anna Hazare ! Something, that I, initially viewed with lot of skepticism and ridicule !!
How can this even work ? What can one achieve, by going on suicide mission of fast unto death? so on and so forth ..
As the days passed .. By the 5th day of his 14 day fast, this Fast unto Death, by a 75 year old man, hit me much harder than that slap on Mr. Pawar’s cheeks !! Every subsequent day, thereafter, the impact of this fast was harder than before.
As events unfolded, I learnt about various individuals who joined Anna Hazare and fasted with him. These were people, who could very well afford two square meals and probably have never missed a meal in their life, due to poverty.
But two individuals, made the greatest impact on me. Two individuals, whom I have never met in real life, combined can represent myself !
A Singapore Based IIM-Culcutta Executive, with two young kids (Mr. Rajen Makhijani) who takes leave from work, goes to India and sits on a 14 day fast in Ramlila Ground. This person recently announced on Facebook, that he is going again to Bombay on December 27th from Singapore
This person is going to leave his wife and two young kids to fight against corruption.
A 3rd year computer science student from IIT Kharagpur (Ritesh Singh) goes on 14 day fast and gets admitted to ICU
A slap can gain a week or two of TRP time. A fast gains a lasting impression ! One never forgets the person or the cause for which he fasted … !
Violence, always is a highly attractive option, but most times impractical. More importantly, it has a limited impact and limited TRP.
But if you are ready to die for something, that you truly believe in, its impact on people’s conscience is just too high..
Fasting is the one last desperate option of that helpless man can do, in that final hope to convince the masses to join him, in the fight.
For people like me, who are well ensconced in their luxurious life or an assured career, we do not need to undertake this suffering unto us.
But most of us, can never forget those hard struggling days, those bribes that needed to be paid (either by me or my parents), those compromises that had to be done …
The least, I can do is fast, sitting at home and express solidarity for all those people, like me out there.
I cannot go to India and support that one man, who is on a fast unto death. That one man, who is fighting for all those people still stuck in that putrid corrupt system.
I don’t know, whether fasting can win this battle. But this is the only non-violent method that I know of today, that has made any real difference. But if this fails, I dread those thoughts of violence and those fears of a Bhagat Singh or Harvinder singh taking over from the Anna’s and Gandhi’s !!
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About the Author
Anand Sharma is a a digital design (IC Design) engineer, who has lived in the US for about 12 years. He is from Sagar (Karnataka) and in currently based in Longmont-CO.
This is the first time, he has ever involved himself in any kind of social activism.
Post Anna Movement, he has been very actively involved in various social activism and is currently in the process of setting up an NGO in India for RTI activism. He is also helping various other NGO’s and social forums, in different ways.