My earliest memory of comprehending the true meaning of egalitarianism comes from a special assembly held in our school on the occasion of Independence Day. Our principal walked up to the podium and instead of the usual prayer, she put up a question to us: "What does equality mean to you?"
All of us stared at her, confused. After all, ten-year-olds aren't exactly at the pinnacle of their mental abilities at six in the morning. Her answer was something that I doubt I will ever forget: "All of you, standing here in the same uniform, carrying the badge of our school, competing with each other, knowing each other not by your surnames or your gender but by your character and your performance is what equality stands for."
I didn't fully understand what she meant back then, but I do now. It was a beautiful allegory; the school was our country and the students, its citizens.
India, the land of extreme diversity merged together in a beautiful blend of cultures and beliefs. We are the proud descendants of people who kept aside their differences and fought as one against the shadows that threatened our sovereignty. It reminds me of a quote by Alexandre Dumas: All for one and one for all.
And yet, there are some incidents that blot the peace that surrounds us, corrupting all the sacrifices made by our forefathers to bring India to the pedestal it has reached today.
The Zomato Controversy of Jabalpur is not just shocking, it's shameful. Fayiaz is as much as a citizen of our country as Mr. Amit Shukla. He works for a living, he does his job honestly and he deserves his salary. But what he doesn't deserve is discrimination on the basis of his belief.
Years ago when the Ali Brothers raised their voice in the form of the Khilafat Movement, the people of India stood by them, their faiths different but their belief the same: No person is just their religion.
Is this the vision they saw for our country when they gave up their lives for the future generations to come? Mr. Shukla takes up the defense that he is merely practicing his right to speech and expression, but is that what this is? Does this give him the backing to humiliate a bona fide employee on a social platform for doing his job, merely on the basis of the religion he chooses to follow?
To Mr. Shukla, I would like to say: Sir, the pride which flashes on your face when you see the news of Chandrayaan 2 launching should remind you of The Missile Man of India: Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. The rendition of Vande Mataram that gives you goosebumps is sung by none other than the legendary artist, A.R. Rehman.
So I ask you: Does Article 19(1)(a) give you the right to belittle everything that India stands for? When the future face of this incredible nation looks up to your generation for inspiration, is this the legacy you want to leave behind?