Teesta toasts governments

Civil rights activist says we need to ask each other some uncomfortable questions.

By Author   |   Published: 11th Jan 2017   11:10 pm Updated: 11th Jan 2017   7:56 pm
Teesta
Social activist, Teesta Setalvad.

Social activist Teesta Setalvad on Tuesday night spoke at Lamakaan about the Rohith Act and other issues to a gathering of more than 150 intellectuals, students and activists. Urging people to do whatever they could, Teesta highlighted the importance of each individual doing their best for the larger good of society. 

“It is easy to listen to Teesta Setalvad, nod and agree with her. She is already established as an intellectual. But, it is hard to do your own bit and get some groundwork done. Today, with the advancement in media technology, it is so easy for all of us to speak up,” she said. 

Teesta, who came to the socio-cultural space with private armed guards, was visibly impressed by a video that some UoH students had made as a tribute to Rohith Vemula. 

Speaking to us after her talk, Teesta said we, as literate and well-off people of the liberal bent, must ask each other some uncomfortable questions. “Are we all not implicit in keeping the poor poor? Do we all not mistreat the downtrodden in one way or another? Do we allow them in our homes, kitchens, elevators? What about gender equality? Are we practising it at home or just preaching it in our elite intellectual discourses?” she asked us. 

The choice between one public leader and another is a bitter one, Teesta said. “I was appalled to see the treatment of the lower castes in States such as Bihar and Kerala, States where the corridors of power are inhabited by leftist or left-leaning parties. Make no mistake — a Nitish Kumar government is any day better than an RSS government. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t question a government just because it is better than others,” she said. 

The issue of social injustice is spread across castes, classes, religions, and many such aspects of society, Teesta said, asking the audience to do more than just discuss the unfortunate suicide of Rohith Vemula.