In 1910 Rabindranath Tagore wrote his memorable `Chitto Jetha Bhoyshunyo’ (Where the Mind is Without Fear) for a resurgent nation. I wanted to revisit those iconic lines in today’s context, tendering my apologies to that great poet.
Where the Mind is with Fear
Where the mind is with fear, and the head not held high,
Where knowledge is not free, even if you try.
Where deprivation is by birth a person’s lot,
where exclusion is written by one’s caste slot.
Where it’s dangerous to live and work for reason,
where for doing so, one can be charged with treason.
Where generations have to scavenge for a living,
where they toil in filth in a system cruelly unforgiving.
Where men stand and leer when women pass by,
where rapists go free and the violated cry.
Where the girl child is killed at birth or in the womb,
where being born a woman buries her in a living tomb,
Where half our children are perennially underfed,
where so many girls before puberty are forcibly wed.
Where the homeless are run over on the pavement of a city,
where children at traffic lights beg for your pity.
Where minimum wages are not paid for those who’ve toiled,
where food is often eaten uncooked or parboiled.
Where grain rots in silos owned by the government,
where people sit and starve on their nearest pavement.
Where minorities live in fear of being seen,
where alternate sexualities are deemed obscene.
Where there is no `ever widening thought or action’,
where for many life is a perennial putrefaction.
Where tireless striving does not bestow perfection,
where those without merit become rulers of the nation.
Into that hell of unfreedom, O Creator!
Why did you let my country awake?