A dear friend of mine has sent an open letter to NDA Convenor and JD(U) president Sharad Yadav after he proclaimed he would drink poison - a la Socrates - if the Women's Reservation Bill is passed. Tell me what you think.
Respected Sharad Ji
I read with great interest your statement, as reported in the print media, on your likely future course of action in case the parliament was to go ahead with reserving 33% seats for women in the legislature.One has been following your arguments against this proposed legislation over the past decade and more and has come to develop grudging admiration for your stand.
I have the same admiration for people who believe that the world is flat, that the movement of Saturn determines our destiny, that the place of women is inside the kitchen, that the Chaturvarnashram is natural division of labour, that man is superior to woman, that if you do not speak Hindi and don't believe in the Hindu way of life, whatever that be, you cannot be an Indian etc etc.
I respect their and your right to say and believe in things that no one else believes in. We live in a democracy and democracy demands that every individual be given the space to express her/his opinion no matter how outlandish, antediluvian and anti democratic they might be.
I have grown up admiring people who have sacrificed their lives for their believes. I agreed with some of them and my admiration for them has only grown over the years. There were others who lay down their lives for the sake of principals that not too many cared about, their sacrifices inspired none and yet this did not discourage these brave souls from tilting at windmills.
I dare say that your "principled position" moves me not and yet, being a democrat, I will defend, till my last breath, your right to express your opinion and even to consume hemlock to underline your commitment to your cause. I will, to my last breath, (I have said it once and I say it again) defend your right to swim against the current, because as a democrat I am duty bound to defend your right to differ.
In order to strike a blow for democracy and for the individual's right to disagree with everyone, (even when everyone else might be right and the dissenting individual might be totally wrong, his democratic right to be wrong cannot be taken from him) I extend you my best wishes in your crusade.
In the days when we were a colony, there were any number of people who were unable to participate actively in the struggle for freedom and yet it were these who provided shelter to freedom fighters, provided them safe houses, fed them clothed them and kept them in hiding for weeks and months. Sharad Ji treat me as one of those nameless millions and I would gladly look for a place where you could stay safely. A place where the long arm of the law will not be able to reach you.
Sharad Ji i am a well wisher and wish to inform you that you need a place like this and you need it urgently. Committing suicide, (in the eyes of the law that is what you are proposing to do) as you well know, is a crime in this country and your public declaration of consuming poison, might well be construed as a declaration of criminal intent. From your sojourns in Indian prisons during the dark days of the emergency, you will know that policeman do not understand the subtle differences between the intent to conduct a criminal offence and the actual act and that is why I say that you will need a secure place to fulfil your pledge.
Drop me a line and I will take care of the rest. The bill I believe is going to be passed very soon and there isn't too much time left.
Martyrdom, even if in your own short-sighted vision, awaits you on the other side of the bottle of poison.
Come on !
Come on !!
Come on !!!