Calendar 2012 will end in the next few days. Time for retrospection for all of us. Unfortunately, nothing exhilarating comes to our mind. Sorry, we cannot write about the much-hyped wedding of Bollywood actors Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor. That was a private affair which media served for public consumption. Many of our stalwarts--former Prime Minister IK Gujral, filmmaker Yash Chopra, sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, poet and novelist Sunil Gangopadhyay, matinee idol Rajesh Khanna and comedian Jaspal Singh Bhatti died.
Episodes of ethnic violence in Assam, exodus of thousands of North-Eastern people from Bangalore due to a rumour circulated among them through SMS & MMS that they would be attacked and kidnapping of Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon by Maoists in Chhattisgarh deeply wounded country's democratic fabric.
Country witnessed quite a few embarrassing moments--Time Magazine dubbed our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as an "underachiever", three BJP ministers were caught watching "porn" video clips in the Karnataka Assembly and Hunger and Malnutrition (HUNGaMA) report said 42 per cent of Indian children are malnourished.
The only silver lining for the country was six medals (a record for India) won by our players in London Olympics 2012.
Television channels and media houses are busy conferring Indian of the Year 2012 awards to celebrities and popular personalities from various walks of life. In those glitzy and glamourous award functions, something "real" seems to be missing, the Common Man (more familiar to us as Aam Aadmi). No, here the reference to Aam Aadmi has nothing to do with Congress.
Since General Elections 2004, Congress has been fighting elections in the name of Aam Aadmi. They have successfully used the slogan "Congress Ka Haath, Aam Aadmi Ke Saath" (Congress's hand, also being the party's election symbol, is with the common man). Looking into country's current socio-political situation, sadly, Congress-led UPA government has lost all connect with Aam Aadmi. Forget about Congress's symbolic hand promising to support various causes of the nation. Today, Aam Aadmi of the country have been left orphans as they have no leader to guide them in time of crises.
The slogan of Congress unwittingly mocks citizens of the country as they demand their right to live in a safe and secure environment.
Neither Aam Aadmi has much to do Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), recently formed political party by activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal. It was Kejriwal and his former colleague Anna Hazare who re-introduced the word Aam Aadmi into the popular lexicon during their massive anti-corruption agitation in the country in 2011. But the whole crusade against corruption has been lost in war of words shrewdly started by political parties and sadly, Kejriwal and Hazare are getting trapped into it.
Anyways, today Aam Aadmi doesn't need any leader to inspire, advise and counsel them in their time of need. The "helpless" Aam Aadmi of the country have taken the reins of their fate in their own hands. Citizens of India are no more mere mute spectators of events unfolding right in front of their eyes, often suggested by cartoon characters of popular daily comic strip, "You Said It" by legendary cartoonist RK Laxman in The Times of India. The comic was started in 1951.
Today, Aam Aadmi have a voice and the very same voice has succeeded in shaking the power centre of the country as they fought against the police force to keep their movement alive. Raisina Hill has never witnessed public demonstrations in the entire history of the country. Nobody has ever dared to jump into the Rashtrapati Bhavan. But in recent few days, country has witnessed a huge shift. The shift in perception and collective responsibility of Aam Aadmi. Aam Aadmi have come on the streets of national capital and other metros to demand justice for the brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old paramedical student. The survivor of the gruesome sexual assault has become a symbol of public anger and frustration against an inept government of the country.
Today, Aam Aadmi doesn't have a leader to follow, rather leaders are following them. As the sea of men and women march ahead with their protest, democracy has been saved from a premature death.
We don't know, how long these public demonstrations will continue. But if we have to save democracy, we need to carry forward people's movement till justice is not delivered. When popular figures have failed to live up to their reputation, Aam Aadmi have shown good amount of gumption to keep the spirit of the country alive.
Indeed, 2012 belongs to Aam Aadmi (the common man) of India. They have defined and redefined the country at a time when confusion writ large in the political class of the country.
Let us, for a change, honour the often ignored faces in the crowd. They all deserve a big pat on their back.