Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi attended the Vijaydashami programme of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on 18th October 2018. Through his presence and his words, he has conveyed that the cause of children is not limited to any group, religion or ideology but is the responsibility of all. He expounded that India’s philosophical wealth lies in its ability to view the world as one whole; one that is not fragmented or limited by time or space.
Thousands of us log on to our digital battlefields everyday, exercising the power of our words to establish broken ideas of the anticipated new world order. We often reinforce our own opinions, bloat our very own echo chambers and retire for the day satisfied to have changed the world just a little bit. Every single day we build our wall of fear higher and higher, fooling ourselves that if we were to build them high enough, the other side would cease to exist.
As right-wingers take pride to have hijacked a Peace Laureate as a mascot for their cause, and left-wingers cry foul and allege betrayal – both of them have missed the point completely. In 40 years of his struggle for protecting children, there is no door he has not knocked, no stage he has not spoken from and no individual or groups he has not engaged with for his crusade. Neither he, nor his cause has ever been limited to any political or religious section of belief, nor can it ever be held hostage to it. The RSS is no exception to this truth. There is no endorsement by association, nor guilt by it. He has often stated that his only ideology and only religion has been children, a fight from which he has refused to step down even at gunpoint. And for those who ask how they may lend their efforts towards his mission, he will show them the way.
What we have witnessed on 18th October 2018 is not only a defining step in the movement for children, but also a watershed moment of nation building in our times. As Kailash Satyarthi declares his vision on the podium of the RSS and awakens its leadership and workers to the need for compassion and inclusivity; as he celebrates the splendor of India’s diversity; as he speaks of seeing Ishwar in the eyes of a muslim girl he rescued from slavery; as he celebrates the occasion of Vijaydashami not as a worship of weapons nor that of the victory of Lord Ram, but as the victory of the deprived and excluded people of India on a cruel power-hungry ruler under the leadership of an exiled prince; and as he measures a nation’s development by the well being of the a Dalit girl in the foremost village of India- he has taken a historic step of courage and compassion across the ever-widening cracks of fear, hatred and division we see today; and giant leap towards a unified and compassionate India.
He has fought this battle for 40 years. And he has not fought alone. Individuals of every religion and groups of every ideology have fought with him shoulder to shoulder and laid down their lives for it. He understands that a challenge of this magnitude cannot be fought by a single hand or by a section of society. He needs each one to realise their stake in a safe world for children, and to fight together to achieve it. If these walls are ever to be shattered, it has to be for the millions of children who get sold into prostitution, are raped and enslaved every single day in India.
We must understand that peace cannot be achieved in a vacuum.