In a democracy, people need to become active participants, not passive recipients of government policy.-- Shabana Azmi
Source: This column which Shabana ji wrote for Harmony magazine in 2004. I have to send a hearty thanks to SLP reader fadista di mouraria for bringing these wonderful columns to my attention. Harmony magazine is the publication of the Harmony for Silvers Foundation, which is an NGO dedicated to improving the lives of India's senior citizens. The foundation's mission is "to create an environment where silvers, irrespective of their cultural beliefs, can retain their dignity, self-respect, pride and self-confidence."
The foundation's website features about fifteen brief pieces that Shabana Azmi wrote for the magazine between 2004 and early 2007, in which she urges seniors not to be complacent, not to settle for less than their due rights and respect. She encourages seniors toward grass-roots mobilization, taking advantage of their leisure time and connections:
A positive force that can bring about revolution, senior citizens have so much in their favor. To begin with, they have the time. There's also the tenacity and perseverance that come with age and wisdom to see projects through. They know that impatience won't get them anywhere. The youth, with all their energy, are no match for the elderly as they lose patience easily and may take the easy route out. Not seniors. For them, the harder, the better.(She writes with awareness that the readership of the publication, which is in English, is educated and middle-class.) In one column she holds up the powerful US lobbying organization AARP as an example of what mobilized seniors can achieve, and suggests that there is a need for an Indian organization to step up to that level.
In addition to her calls to activism, some of the columns are touchingly personal, including anecdotes about her mother and other elderly people close to her heart; I particularly liked this one about her mother (in which she calls herself a "spunky lass"). I also liked this one, in which she talks about several elderly people who inspire her. In this column, she describes rushing to help and elderly man struggling to get down the stairs in a train station. Can you imagine a movie star helping a stranger in a train station? If I weren't already completely in love with this woman before, I would be now.
These articles are lovely, just a wonderful find.