The other day I met a starving person. He looked a man who had some education, perhaps circumstances had made him reach the nadir of life. He was reading an old dilapidated news paper. I was intrigued and asked him a a question
" What are you reading"’ I asked him.
He was surprised. as no one had ever asked him such a question. He took a moment to reply and then said " I am reading some big people who claim to be intellectuals are are very angry with the government. You must be knowing that, Sir.’
"Sir, I have read that they are saying that the government is very intolerant, that this country is no longer safe. Some of them are even saying that they would not like to live in this country. Is it really so bad? I do not find anything unusual. I’m a poor man. I find every day the same, except when I get two meals. Normally, I go to bed which is footpath without eating full meal in the night but I cannot think of going out of this country. How can I go anywhere? I have no money. These people must have tons of money to go to a foreign country and settle there."
This man stumped me. I knew he was referring to Amir Khan that Muslim star, adulated by the Hindu masses who now was voicing his ire at intolerance and threatening to quit India.
The man continued" I am worried sir, these people have tons of money and yet mouth such cliches. Why are they not worried about people like me?’
I sat down beside the man and pulled out a sandwich and said" will you share with me?". He smiled and took the sandwich and continued
"Sir, even the Political leaders! All of them say they are worried about people like me. But they have done nothing.. I have heard that Indira Gandhi had once said that her enemies wanted to remove her because she wanted to remove poverty. Nothing happened.
Sir, I come from a state where a poor man, not as poor as me, became Chief Minister after promising that he would remove poverty. All that he could achieve was to remove the poverty of his family. Today, all the children are very rich and move in big cars without doing any work. I had some hope from the communists but when I saw a photograph of some communist leaders, as well dressed as you, discussing some big issues, not poverty, in an air conditioned room and drinking mineral water, I knew that they were not different from others. What do you say?"
What could I say? With some difficulty I murmured: ‘Yes, I agree with you. Our political leaders could not do much. They may have their own limitations.’
‘Sir, what about the intellectuals who are going about returning awards, but not the monetary compensation that comes with it"
"I don’t think so. There are intellectuals. They are worried about bigger things." I replied
He looked at me. ‘Sir, will these intellectuals ever get angry that crores of people are starving in this country? Will they ever suggest how starving people like me can get two square meals/ Will they ever get angry that the government does not act on their suggestions to provide two square meals a day to the starving people like me?’
‘I was shaken and left without eating my sandwich. I ask
Will any intellectual answer his questions? Questions of starving people of India? There are more than 190 million of them. Will intellectuals return awards for THEM