Thought Box



by HUMRA QURAISHI May 25 2024, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins, 33 secs

"Why should the people of India continue to vote for a politics that, after ten years in power, has left citizens despairing for basic needs and fighting for their fundamental rights to speech and expression?"- Humra Quraishi

In the midst of a turbulent socio-political landscape, the people of India face a crucial decision: whether to continue supporting a political regime that has governed for the past decade but has left them struggling for basic necessities and their fundamental rights. As Bitan Chakraborty's The Blight and Seven Short Stories poignantly illustrates, the harsh realities of everyday life in India have only grown more dire under this leadership. The stories of individuals grappling with hunger, violence, and betrayal reflect a broader national despair. With citizens now battling for even their most basic rights, including freedom of speech and expression, it is imperative to question why they should endorse a politics that has failed to meet their needs and uphold their liberties.

Amid soaring temperatures, the prices of everyday essentials are skyrocketing. Food items, including fruits and vegetables that could provide some relief, are becoming increasingly unaffordable. This situation is exacerbating the plight of the vulnerable, making the frail even frailer and reducing the able-bodied to mere shadows of their former selves.

The combination of rising temperatures and the inability to cope with these challenges has led to a noticeable decline in election campaigning. Notably, the so-called 'star campaigners' are not as affected due to their numerous advantages, which shield them from the worst impacts of the heat.

For the average citizen, however, there's a clear lack of enthusiasm. Many complain that holding elections during peak summer is ill-advised, as it is likely to result in low voter turnout and smaller crowds at rallies.

Perhaps the only exception to this trend are the farmers of Punjab and Haryana. Their resilience and spirit deserve our salaams and salutes. Despite the unprecedented heat, they remain steadfast at the borders of Punjab and Haryana, blocking the entry of right-wing workers and leaders into their villages, cities, and towns. The farmers are vocal about their discontent, having had enough of the false promises and double-speak. They demand genuine results, not empty assurances.

As of noon on May 23, reports from the Punjab borders indicated that farmers were determined to prevent the Prime Minister from entering Patiala. He visited on Thursday afternoon for an election rally, but the farmers, filled with anger and disgust, did their best to block his entry into their territory. Moreover, recent reports suggest that former Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, who joined the BJP, had also decided not to attend the Prime Minister’s rally, citing health reasons and opting to rest at home.

In Delhi, much attention is focused on the North-East constituency, where Congress candidate Kanhaiya Kumar is expected to give BJP's Manoj Tiwari a tough fight. Kanhaiya is deeply aware of the ground realities and consistently speaks about them. I have met him twice on the JNU campus, before he entered the political arena. During our conversations with him and his fellow students, he struck me as not only highly confident but also exceptionally bright, with answers to any query posed to him. His rural background only adds to his charisma and understanding of urgent issues that need immediate attention.

What impresses me about Kanhaiya is his pride in his roots. While many feel embarrassed or lack confidence when discussing their rural backgrounds or modest homes, Kanhaiya’s eyes shine with pride as he describes his upbringing. His attitude and confidence remain unchanged to this day.

Regarding the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its prospects in these elections, there are evident hurdles being thrown their way by the Right-Wing. These obstacles, which include the arrests of its tallest leaders, appear relentless.  


Bitan Chakraborty's recently launched short story collection, “The Blight and Seven Short Stories” (Hawakal Publishers), vividly portrays ground realities. Chakraborty, a theatre personality turned illustrator, poet, and writer, weaves narratives that revolve around the daily struggles, frustrations, disappointments, setbacks, and betrayals faced by individuals in challenging and often despairing environments.

His stories delve into the human condition amid tumultuous times, reflecting on the compounded mess and tragedies that define everyday survival. The collection, translated by Malati Mukherjee, has been praised for its eye-opening depiction of ordinary lives. Mukherjee notes, "Like all of Bitan’s works, The Blight and Seven Short Stories opens our eyes to the struggles of ordinary lives. A father dreams of his son becoming a footballer but lacks the money to buy him a little fish to strengthen his weak limbs. A man clings fiercely to his ancestral land amid daily killings and the emptying of the village. An office-going young man, humiliated by commuters on a train passing through Bihar, plans his revenge on the Biharis of Kolkata. A young boy, his eyes filled with dreams of an equal society, feels betrayed by his teacher’s double standards. A colony on the outskirts of the capital, where meat shops have been shut down by self-proclaimed food vigilante groups, and the shopkeepers lynched—a sign of our times."

After reading these stories, one is left contemplating the stark sadness engulfing the lives of those determined to persevere against all odds and challenges. This determination to carry on, despite the adversities, perhaps encapsulates what we call life or everyday living.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.