What do Km. Mayawati (former chief Minister of UP, largest Indian state)
and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (a prominent champion of civil rights and civil rights movements) have in common?
To begin with, they were both born on the same date – January 15.
However, they have more than a birth date in common – they have passion to
transform societies where its members are not excluded or ‘ruled out’
simply because of where they were born and who they were born to.
Just as Dr. King reminded us of the vision of liberty and said: “no one is
free until everyone is free,” Km. Mayawati has a vision of respectful societies where societies are no longer marginalized, are living in dignity, and everyone has opportunities to make contributions to the well being of the state.
As a result of direct contributions made by Dr. King, Km. Mayawati and
other leaders of social justice movements, existing policies are being
challenged and new legislations and polices are being introduced. Landscapes
are also being transformed where Blacks and Dalit icons are now portrayed
positively in the media, literature, and the public institutions. One prominent example is the citizens of the United States electing President Obama twice. In Uttar Pardes, the largest state in India, Km. Mayawati was elected as a Chief Minister on more than one occasion. These are symbolic victories that highlight steps in the direction of making liberated and respectful societies.
This is not to state that the world has now become a safe haven, or the
Utopia where there are no more struggles. For instance, Rohith Vemula (a Ph.D. candidate with a great potential) committed suicide recently. This tragedy has highlighted an issue that has been overlooked and minimized in India, just as the brutal killings of women who were buried on the pig farm has led to a public outcry in Canada. These issues have also highlighted a significant need to create more caring societies across the globe and have more elected leaders who care for the grassroots and global communities.
Both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Km. Mayawati have worked tirelessly to
transform societies where everyone is free and respected and their lives serve as a reminder that more needs to be done to realize their visions. They are both stalwarts in eyes of many and will continue to be great reminders for generations to come.
I salute these both leaders for kindling and rekindling the spark for
having inclusive and respectful societies.
The birthdays of these two great leaders fall close to the Punjabi festival of Lohri, where fire is lit to symbolize a new season or a new beginning.
This coming year, I suggest we also dedicate Lohri to these great leaders and rekindle the fire in all of us to continue with our efforts at making this a better world, and seeing that no one is actually free, until everyone is free!
With my heartiest greetings on this year’s season of lights and festivities.