Thursday, March 10, 2011

Confession of a Concerned Citizen by Kabir Arora

For me Lonavala Young Activist Meeting was a point where my private dilemmas became public. Whom do you call Activist? Why do you want to name yourself as an activist? By using the term “activism” we are somewhere mainstreaming the idea of concerned citizenry in a separate profession. I’m personally very much uncomfortable with the creation of a new profession “where one serves the underprivileged or deprived class”.

Background of how I joined the cult: The Batla House encounter and post scenario in Jamia founded the human rights movement in the institution. An institution founded by the prophets of non-violence was not only attacked with bullets but with divisive politics which was more harming. University was called a terrorist breeding ground! Every Jamia student became a concerned citizen. Before the encounter I was doing things here and there on environmental issues. Encounter changed my outlook and belief. In Center for Science Environment we were taught to question but in my life, for the first time I questioned the inhuman act committed by the state on the name of saving the nation.

With all the concerns, there are individual aspirations of having an active life with comfortable
surroundings. I’m not sure whether they will be able to go together. The set of principles I’ve chosen for myself- make me think a lot. Both of the ideas are very contradictory to each other. At times I’ve to destabilize myself so that I can just ponder over the deeds committed.

The lifestyle which is expected from an “activist” is not there as a part of my daily life. I’m also an individual who has minute desires and needs. May not be able to reach the limit of survival but
adaptability is still there. Instances in life make me not to question that. I do belong to privileged middle class but that doesn’t stop me from aligning with the oppressed ones. In a way even I’m oppressed. Systems, structures, society, state all have defined the limits, beliefs and desires. There is a strong aspiration to decondition myself from all of them, and try to figure out a path which is my own. I’m naming it my own rebellion. A rebellion which is searching for alternative ways of surviving and grooming; which is sustainable in nature. Not harming the surroundings and living beings. How is there going to be a mass transit to those alternatives? I’m carrying no answer for it. My struggle is not only outside, there is a tussle going on inside. I do have political conscience; how to manifest it without becoming a part of mainstream party? I’m clueless about it.

When I move out of my nutshell see a lot of pessimism in my surroundings, inspirations-stories of struggle, victories which are humble –small keeps me moving, push me towards optimism.

Woh Subah Kabhi To Aayegi! Us Subah Ki Talash Mein Rangon Ka Ik Indradhanush Le Chale Hamara Kafila…
Kabir Arora is an environmental activist and Gandhi Fellow.  To read more by Kabir, see the the links at the bottom of this post.


  1. Thoughts very well captured.

    On "how to manifest it without becoming a part of mainstream party? " well .. may be by being an activist of the sub type who try to work on reforms of the political process .. to try to define rules for the law makers ..

  2. You raise an interesting question. There will always be some who want us to think that 'activists' are crazy or outside of the mainstream--or that they have an agenda that is somehow suspect.

    I would rather we think of activist as 'person who cares enough to do something.' The question is, do we give up the word or struggle to make it mean what we want it to mean. I'm not sure.


What do you think?