Rang de Basanti (Colour My Saffron / रंग दे बसंती)

In support of ‘people of Koodakulam’ whose voices and rights have been suppressed.

Rang de basanti-
Colour my saffron,
A phrase embodying Bhagat Singh-
The “terrorist” who fought oppression,
Who wanted to bomb the authoritarians,
They, not he, were the oppressors,
Yet he, not they, was the “terrorist”

Come, once again,
Let’s colour our saffron,
In the red of blood,
As many are beaten by police,
For opening their mouths,
For speaking up!

Time and again,
We must colour our saffron-
No one values clothes
Unless the white ambassadors
Splash dirty waters after rain on our clothes,
As the red lights-
The celebration of their power flash

Red, must be used, time and again,
To puncture blood,
To flash on ambassador cars to send out a message,
Political dynasties, families, and the untouchable Mayawati statues,
Are really untouchable,
Larger than life,
Like our Bolywood,
Where Page 3 adorns
Sexy women with pregnant bellies,
While in a remote village,
Unborn children refuse to kick,
But to only howl,
As mothers-to-be
Are denied milk and food,
Truly, how illiterate they are,
for not having gone to school
Where teachers slap you to tell you
That white kurtas and Gandhi caps –
People who wear them must be Gods.

Today, if you have courage,
Then go and colour the saffron
With blood and atrocity-
Do you not see,
We are a nation of deaf,
Where politicians in the parliament,
Under the blessing of CCTV watch porn,
Do you not see,
We are a nation of blind,
Because the power that sleeps on giant beds,
Inside the symbols of the Raj,
Connaught Place and Janpath Road,
Races behind money,
Under the aegis of Racecourse Road,
Do you not see,
After 5, 10, 20, 100, 500 and then 1000 rupee,
Gandhi is tired of being slapped,
As his face is siphoned off to the Swiss lockers,
And basement treasuries!

Dare yourself,
Take off your slippers,
Walk in 44 degrees,
Come, colour the saffron,
With blood and atrocities!
Rang de basanti-

But wait, and
Ask yourself,
Do we,
Do we,
Really need Rang de basanti?

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Sumeet Grover

Sumeet Grover is the founder of Global Poetry, dedicated to creativity, human dignity, dialogue and global citizenship. He is a winner of the Portico Brotherton Open Poetry Prize 2014 and was shortlisted for the Jane Martin Poetry Prize in 2014 & 2015. He has authored three books of poetry: Signals (2017), House Arrest & Disobedience (2015) and Change (2011). Grover is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment.

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