It’s hot. There are tens of thousands of people from all over India and the world gathered together under large tents. One question is on everyone’s mind: Will we march?
Excitement is pulsing through the place. What we all came for is now becoming a reality. We will march from Gwalior to Delhi, walking in solidarity for justice.
The next morning it is around 9:30 AM. I am in a single-file line, not to get my school lunch or to be part of a military exercise. I am part of Jan Satyagraha 2012, a massive, nonviolent direct action movement to bring justice to the marginalized and landless*. I am surrounded by some 40,000 fellow protestors who have travelled far and wide to demand reform on land rights and their livelihoods.
Never before have I been able to see so clearly how I can be a small part of something much bigger than myself. This visual is overwhelming and I become emotional.
We walk for 27km the first day. I begin to regret packing so much when the shoulder pains kick in. However, it’s hard to hold onto any negative thoughts when in one glance I see tribal men and women, much older than myself, with their own sacks to carry, and no look of pain or fatigue. In fact, when I look around me all I see is determination and hope. They are part of something larger than their self as well.
I am still in disbelief of how lucky I am to have been placed with Pravah. They have fully adopted me into their family and given me opportunities, such as this one, to further explore myself and the larger community around me, all while facilitating youth’s journeys as well.
And to cap the thankfulness and excitement that I have experienced during the first month of my AIF fellowship, the Jan Satyagraha march was a huge success! The Minister of Rural Development met the march at Agra and agreed to all of their demands.
Take that feeling of hopelessness! And you too feeling of disconnect! The potential for positive transformation is alive and well and I am looking forward to see what is next on my journey here in India.
*For more detailed information about the demands and the objectives of the march, check out Ekta Parishad’s website: http://ektaparishad.com/