This week’s column has been inspired by the Hindustan Times series, My Hope, My Punjab, which entails thoughts and feelings of prominent people about what they think and hope about their home state Punjab.
It’s a thought-provoking and agenda-setting topic, since Punjab is not a mere geographic area, as poet Surjit Patar has espoused in his recent interview. Punjab is an experience, a journey, a state of mind, thus leaving us with questions such as, how has the ride been so far, and what should we hope for in the future?
Those who feel that they can insulate themselves from the ride are horribly mistaken, for this roller-coaster’s ticket is not voluntary. No one can skip experiencing the ride of the land they are born in. Not even those who live 24x7on social media, because they can also get hit with poor quality broadband any time.
Once the realisation that Punjab is not merely a patch of land from Attari to Shambu barrier, looking at Punjab with a different paradigm becomes impending. To me, the map starts appearing like an ‘idea’ with a tremendous potential, much beyond the usual Doaba, Majha and Malwa political rhetoric.
But has the ‘idea’ of a progressive Punjab gotten blurred? It’s a question, which people must ask themselves and answer too.
Hasn’t the land, which once produced great people, businesses, and culture got itself entangled in a web where it’s finding it hard to unleash its potential anymore? And who is to be blamed for it? Certainly, it is not the aliens, or that outside force, on which we tend to shift the blame. ‘Sub agenciaan di saajish hai’ is an old cliché as it is we the people of Punjab who have limited our potential. We have traded it for things that can surely promote individuals, but not the State as a whole. However, no one realises that if the State doesn’t progress, self-aggrandisement can hit a speedbreaker anytime.
RIDING ON HOPE
In other words, ‘hope’ is our only hope but which also may have an expiry if we don’t sort out things. For hope to stick its neck out, we have to give it a chance. This leads us to the question that how do we give hope that chance. Prayers or lauding over the past is only a ‘Dil ko behlaney ke liya Ghalib ye khayal acha hai ’. Instead, what needs to be done is that every Punjabi has to own responsibility. Nothing ever moves if you don’t take ownership and become a stakeholder in the progress of your home. Blaming the politician for everything is not the way out. It’s an excuse not to contribute to the progress of your state.
What we have been doing till now is that we have been abdicating our responsibility after casting our vote and trying to form our little lobbies for personal benefits. Progress cannot happen to areas where a particular section tries to deny progress to the other. It has to be a wholesome experience for the rollercoaster has to have the right balance.
My hope for Punjab is not utopia, but a pure awareness where people realise the significance of taking charge of their destiny besides just voting a government in or out.