Actor and activist Prakash Raj emphasised the need to have greater fraternity more in these times, at a talk which held the audience spellbound in a packed St. John’s Medical College Auditorium recently. Speaking at the The Wire Dialogues held in association with National School of Journalism and Public Discourse, the multifaceted actor said that it is more important in the current context “Because of the one person who has called himself the F word – ‘fakir’, he said. The dialogue was led by The Wire’s editor Seema Chishti.'' Mr Raj quoted the great Kannada poet Kuvempu and said that people should strive to be ‘vishwamanavas’, citizens of the world.
The event began with sufi songs by Shabnam Virmani of the Kabir Project - which attempts to provide a multifaceted view of Kabir’s poetry in today’s context. Her explanations of Kabir’s dohas gave a new perspective to the discussion about fraternity and brotherhood.
During the dialogue which followed Ms Virmani’s sufi renditions, Ms Chishti discussed how we [the public] have taken a “U-turn” . Mr Prakash Raj agreed to the point and went on to comment on the irony behind discussing the importance of fraternity when we have already celebrated ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ and are taught these ideals enshrined in the Constitution by B. R. Ambedkar and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in schools.
Raj mentioned the police shooting of Nahel Merzouk in France and how the entire country rose up to protest against it but he rued that is absent in India. He admitted, “Fear has become a national disease.” Discussing what is happening in Manipur and Haryana with Chishti, Mr Raj said that the country lacks fraternity. “The fact is,” he said, “Somebody’s pain does not become our pain anymore.”
“The rise of inequality needs to end for the fraternity to foster among the people. Politicians come once in five years and go. We are permanent. Politics is us. It is our money, ” Mr Raj concluded.