Eh Punjab koi Neera geographia nahi, Eh ik Geet, Ik Preet, itihaas vi hai, Rishiyan, Sufiyaan, Satguraan Srijia eh, Eh Ik falsafa, soch, Ehsaas vi hai, Kiney chakraan, toofana toe langyah eh, Ehda mukhda Kuj Udaaas vi hai, Ek din shaan is di suraj vang chamkoo, Meri aas vi hai, ardaas vi hai.
This poignant poem was recited by Surjit Patar at the recently concluded Sangrur literature festival. It not only reflected the prevalent sombre mood of Punjab, but it also set in motion the process of healing through poetry, literature and prayer.
That Punjab is restless and ailing cannot be denied. That it is falling apart is the ground reality. So what makes this land which is home to some of the most vibrant people so sad is a question which every Punjabi asks. And lastly, what will it take to resurrect it and take it to new glory?
Common sense says that to bring it back to shape, a correct diagnosis is imperative followed by removal of those toxic allergens which have inflicted asthma on this land of the five rivers.
Please bear when I say the biggest irritants are religion and politics. And when the two get mixed what you get is a turbulent Punjab. This venomous combination had almost spelt a death knell for Punjab before and threatens to derail it again.
We the people of Punjab must realise that ‘Progress, Growth, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Education’ are words that a politician or a religious man hardly understands. He simply cannot because of the freebies and sops linked to his job. The religious man doesn’t give a damn whether the state progresses or not, if the economy comes to a halt due to bandhs, or whether investment pours in or eludes. His GDP works at a godly level. Let’s call it God Driven Product.
Unlike normal and ordinary people, godly people needn’t bother about two square meals, gaddi-shaddis as their granaries and coffers are always full. Almost the same goes for the politician. There is always a foreign account to bank upon. Basically, the politician and the people dealing with God are recession-proof. To prove this economic theory just look around and see if any politician or religious preachers’ children actually work for a living? Of whether they contribute to the wealth and intellectual growth of the state? I can’t find very many.
In other words, if Punjab were to be doomed, do you think your politician and preacher would go hungry to bed? It is people like you and me who will be affected and worrying how to pay the college fee and mortgage.
My earnest request to all my readers is that this revelation should ‘awaken’ and ‘prewarn’ you of not falling into their trap and get exploited easily.
If we resolve to separate religion and politics, we will surely be liberated from the shackles of these people. We will start thinking about Punjab from the perspective of progress and not religion, caste and class combination. Believe me, the politician or the preacher does not care about the citizens and disciples respectively.
This column is also meant to reach out to those Non-resident Indians (NRIs) who advertently or inadvertently are investing in Punjab’s politics and restlessness rather than progress. To them, my only suggestion would be to re-read Surjit Patar’s poem and appreciate what Punjab actually stands rather than sully its soul.