If Martin Luther King was a Puneite, How would his 'I have a Dream' Speech be?
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as
the greatest demonstration for freedom in
the history of Pune. Freedom
from the agony caused pot-holed roads. Freedom from the misery caused
lack of footpaths.
Freedom from congestion, pollution and the rattling
PMT bus that never works.
Five decades ago, a great Indian
(Ambedkar), in whose symbolic shadow
we stand today, signed the Indian Constitution. This momentous decree
came as a
great beacon light of hope to millions of Indians who until
1947 were en-slaved who in the flames of withering injustice
British). It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their
But 50 years later, the
Puneite is still is not free. The Puneite is
still sadly crippled by the manacles of bureaucracy and the chains of
politicians. 50 years later, the Puneite lives on a lonely
island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.
years later the Puneite is still languishing in the corners of his
city and finds himself an exile in his own land (waiting
for the PMT to
arrive). So we have come together today to dramatize a shameful
In a sense we have
come to cash a check. When the architects of our
republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the
of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to
which every Puneite was to fall heir. This note was a promise that
men would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness. The right to live
cross the roads safely, the
right to safe public transport and the right to living in dignity.
It is obvious today
that PMC has defaulted on this promissory note
insofar as her citizens are concerned. Instead of honoring this
PMC has given the Puneite a bad check, a check which has
come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe
bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are
insufficient funds in the great vaults of
opportunity of this city. So
we have come to cash this check - a check that will give us upon demand
the riches of freedom
and the security to live in dignity. We have also
come to this hallowed spot to remind PMC of the fierce urgency of now.
is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the
tranquilizing drug of gradualism (through projects such
as Sky Bus). Now
is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to
rise from the dark and desolate
valley of degradation to the sunlit path
of justice. Now is the time to lift our city from the quick sands of
to the solid rock of high quality of life. Now is the time to
make justice a reality for all of God's children.
would be fatal for the PMC to overlook the urgency of the moment.
This sweltering summer of the Puneite's legitimate discontent
pass until there is an invigorating freedom from indignity. 2006 is not
an end, but a beginning. Those who
hope that the Puneite needed to blow
off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the PMC
to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility
in Pune until the Puneite is granted his citizenship rights.
whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of Pune
until the bright day of justice emerges.
there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the
warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice.
In the process of
gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let
us not seek to satisfy our
thirst for freedom from indignity by drinking
from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our
struggle on the high plane of dignity and
discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into
violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights
of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous
(intellectual) which has engulfed the Pune community must not lead us to
distrust of all civic officials
& politicians, as their destiny is tied
up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our
We (nor they) can walk alone.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We
cannot turn back.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil
rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as
as the Puneite is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of social
brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long
as our bodies, heavy with
the fatigue of travel (on pot-holed roads), cannot gain lodging in the
comfort of good roads,
well paved footpaths and good public transport
system in the city. We can never be satisfied as long as a Puneite
get his voice heard and a Puneite believes he has nothing for
which to vote (due to resentment that politicians will not
anyway). No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied
until justice rolls down like waters
and righteousness like a mighty
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the
of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream
deeply rooted in the Pune dream.
I have a dream that
one day Pune will rise up and live out the true
meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all
live in dignity."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Parvati the sons of
this city will be able to
sit down together at the table of brotherhood
and look at their city fondly.
I have a dream that one day the rest
of Maharashtra, a state
sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of
oppression, will be transformed
into an oasis of freedom and justice
(after Pune sets an example).
I have a dream today.
This is our hope.
This is the faith that I go back to the South with.
With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair
stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling
discords of our city into a beautiful symphony.
With this faith we will
be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to
stand up for freedom together,
knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing
a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of
thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the
from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if Pune is to be a great city this must become
true. So let
freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of Parvati. Let freedom ring
from the Mula-Mutha.
And when this happens, we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring
from every lane of the city,
we will be able to speed up that day when
all of Pune's children, will be able to join hands and sing, "Free at
Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
Paraphrased by Adhiraj Joglekar