LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER
Sri Narendra Modi
Prime Minister of India
7, Lok Kalyan Marg
New Delhi, 110 011
Honourable Prime Minister,
On behalf of this great nation, a fusion of perhaps every religion and belief in this world, allow me to express my gratitude for this chance to write to you. Of course, you may not be aware of this but my existence in this very country was highly unlikely. My father hails from the great state of Manipur. He grew up in various cities until he found a permanent home in Daly College, Indore. His father, my grandfather, was a war hero, a soldier in the Indian Army and his mother, my grandmother- a humble and wise housewife.
But they had grander dreams for their son. Through hardwork and perseverance my father managed to secure a seat in his dream college, Shri Ram College of Commerce, in the great city and capital of our beautiful nation, Delhi; for centuries it has stood as the beacon of opportunities for many who had come before him, and as the centre of our politics. While working here, my father met my mother. She was born in the state where the literary capital of our country resides: West Bengal. Her father worked in the Indian Red Cross Society and in his youth lived through most of the Partition. Back home, my grandmother raised a family of five children and beamed with pride as her youngest daughter, my mother, received admittance to Hansraj College.
They too had grand dreams for their daughter, a common dream, born of two states. My parents not only shared a near impossible marriage; they shared the same abiding faith in the opportunities and possibilities of this country. They gave me a name unheard of, Haobam Aditya Singh, and they raised me believing that in a tolerant India my name or the way I look will be accepted and will not be a barrier to my success.
I write to you today, appreciative and grateful for the diversity of my heritage, and aware that the hopes and dreams of my parents will continue to live on through me. I write to you today believing that my story, as well as my parents’ story, is part of the larger Indian story. And so, I owe a debt to all those who came before me, to those who reflect the same hopes, dreams and faith that I have in this great nation. From one servant of this nation to another, I ask that you reaffirm in the people of this nation that India’s greatness, and the pride we take in it, comes not from the differences we see in our religions, cultures and political views; it was born not out of conflict in our beliefs and faith. Our pride is based on a singular premise, forever enshrined in a constitution that boldly pledges,
“We the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens
Justice, social, economic and political;
Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; and to promote among them all
Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity of our nation”
This, dear Sir, is the true genius of our country: a belief that we can and must rise above our differences. A faith in the simple yet beautiful dreams of the people, an insistence on small miracles. A tremendous trust that we can say what we think and write what we think. A dream that only in a country like India is the impossibility of my birth and success possible. A conviction that every one of us can participate in the political process without retribution.
Four years from now when the elections come again I shall, like many others, call upon you (and the opposition) to reaffirm our faith in our values and commitments. I shall ask you to hold the emotions, the values, the commitment, the faith each and every Indian has in this great nation against a harsh reality. And we will see how you’re measuring up to the legacy of our elders and ancestors. To all my fellow Indians - from every corner, every religion, faith, tribe and community- I ask that you do not lose hope. Hope is what helps us wake up in the morning. It is what helps the infant bird out of its shell. Hope is the sunset we drive into leaving behind nothing but fear. And even if we do not realise the faith we have in our nation, it’s hope that will save India from what it has become. Without it we shall turn to dust, fall prey to our own fears and see in each other the same hopelessness that we witness in the eyes of an old circus lion deprived of the abundance of the wilderness.
Don’t think I am a humble idealist. I have met countless people who have no faith in the government. They know that to get ahead they must work hard, and they do. I have been to the many boroughs of India and met people who realise that the government alone cannot help them raise their kids. Every elder knows that they must raise the expectations of their children. That they must keep their children immune to the idea that a girl child with a book is a threat to the beliefs of our society. If our composite society is to progress then it must find an intersection between our glorious past and the promise of the future.
Dear Sir, I urge you to see that people don’t expect that governments will solve all their problems. However, deep down in every quiver of their beating heart they know that a change in priorities and beliefs can help every child in India have a chance at living a decent life. That the window of opportunity will forever remain open for them. And I am sure I speak for the people of India when I say we want that choice.
Now, I do acknowledge that we have many enemies but the enemy is not among the ranks of every person who proudly calls herself/himself Indian. I further assert that these enemies must be defeated: whether they border us in the north-east or north-west. Just as brave Indians did not hesitate to risk their lives to avenge the death of India’s children in Uri and knew they must retaliate so those who cannot fight may continue living with dignity, I urge dear Sir that you too must realise that it’s not enough that only some of us prosper and live life happily. I urge you to realise that alongside the individual also stands another great ingredient that makes India whole.
A belief that each and every one of us is connected as one. That each of us has something to lose when so many of us are overlooked. If in UP a girl is raped, it must matter to us, even if she’s not our own blood. If there’s a senior citizen who cannot afford a home, it must matter to us, even if they are not our own parents or grandparents. If a Muslim family is rounded up without benefit of attorney or justice that must bother my civil liberties too. You must see that it’s this fundamental belief “I stand by every man, woman and child that is Indian” that makes this country great and it’s what makes this country work.
Ultimately the great gift of our ancestors, the very foundation of the great nation is this: Multi Unum facet. Many makes one.
Finally, I surrender these aforementioned thoughts of mine to your wisdom with one last thought: I believe that we can give jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, hope to the hopeless... I believe that we can save our people from violence and despair. I believe that Indians can believe again, and not just hope that a brighter future may lie ahead. And that you must give the disenfranchised the same respect and rights as your belief system gives to Hindus.
Cover Image: PTI