Naya libaas pehenkar ke yeh kyun sochte ho,
ki saare khoon ke dhabbon ko tum chhipa logey…
Libaas koi bhi ho tan ko dhaank sakta hai,
yeh zehen, soch, tareekey chhipa nahin sakta…
Scientist and poet Gauhar Raza on Wednesday expressed his thoughts on the current state of affairs through this poem of his, which vaguely translates as: “Why do you think by wearing a new attire, you will hide the bloodstains…An attire – it can be anything – can hide your body, but not mind, thoughts and your ways…”
He recited the poem during an interactive session with the students of Panjab University on Wednesday when he talked on a number of topics from nationalism to Constitution.
Raza described nationalism, in Nobel laureate Albert Einstein’s words, as an “infantile disease, measles of the masses”.
“I am not a nationalist. I am an internationalist. But I’d like to talk about patriotism. I am proud that I belong to a country where Aryabhatta was born. I’ll call those patriotic who want to see every child go to school, want a roof over everyone’s head, who see men and women as equal,” said Raza was called “anti-national” by Zee News. In September 2017, News Broadcasting Standards Authority ordered the private Hindi news channel to tender an apology for it. In 2016, the channel had aired a four-day campaign, calling him a member of “Afzal Premi Gang” after a poetry recital at Shankar-Shad Mushaira, an annual event.
Raza’s has many a times talked strongly about constitutional values in his articles or speeches. For him, the Constitution brings everyone at par and the fact that it was created and accepted by so many leaders was miraculous.
On one side is an unequal society on all counts and then, on the other there is the Constitution. Those who are upholding the constitutional values and raising their voices against injustice and inequality are in grave danger. So, the biggest challenge for the youth is to save the Constitution and carve a better society,” he told the students.
In collaboration with Cinephiles, Raza’s documentary film Inquilab, on revolutionary Bhagat Singh, was also screened at the session organised by Purvarang.
Raza, a firm believer in the power of intellect over ego, said he grew up with stories of the freedom struggle. “Science and literature moved in and out of my home like wind does. Acclaimed poets and freedom fighters came home daily. But they weren’t like the leaders of today. They were like you and me, ordinary. Now, it’s difficult even to talk to the Prime Minister. We forget that without the ordinary people, no revolution has ever happened and never will,” said Raza whose father was a well-known communist and mother a social worker.
He added there are two options — to be scared and not do anything and the other is to think that there’s no need to be afraid anymore.
However, he said that he was afraid to call India a democracy as this was not a natural state, but carefully crafted by “our forefathers”. “If we do not value it, it could be lost and India could go the Pakistan or Bangladesh way,” Raza further said.
In his time, he added, they dreamt of a nation where each citizen got equal opportunities, that promoted peace. “But now, I feel disillusioned, he said, reciting his other poems such as Jallianwala Bagh, Khamoshi, besides some shorts.