Fasting is related to prayers because it is there in every religion. It is not because someone dictates it but rather it is about prayers for purification as well for the wellbeing of the community and humanity.
Basically all tenets of fasting involves a mental and vocal declaration of doing without food in order to achieve spiritual strength and find answers and direction with regards to morality, either for individual satisfaction or for the public.
Gandhi fasted on several different occasions; one was in 1918 for the interest of the mill workers used as forced labour by the British colonisers, then at the Chauri Chaura incident in 1922 for fair prices in the meat market where the rich used the British government and their enforcers and the Rowlatt Act (similar to ISA) to their advantage.
Then there was the major one in 1943 over the Hindu-Muslim riots where he fasted for 21 days as a plea that religion should unite and not divide.
The current fast undertaken by Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoorthy is probably the first of its kind in Malaysia for public interest. Why did he resort to such a measure?
A typical answer would be it must be political reasons - to obtain a seat in Parliament, for political advantage, for personal gain and so forth. This would be the typical Malaysian thought process.
Let's look at the reality and truth in the current scenario for the Malaysian Indians. Can anyone argue on these facts?
Largest number of stateless persons, highest suicide rate in the nation, lowest life expectancy rates- 67.3 years compared to national average of 71.2.
Highest school dropout rates - only 5 percent of Indians reach the tertiary level compared to the national average of 7.5 percent.
Highest incidence of drug addiction in proportion to population.
Highest number of prisoners in proportion to population and death as well.
Largest number of gangs are now Indian and that 60 percent of blue collar crimes are committed by Indians.
Second highest infant mortality rates.
Highest number of single parents in proportion to population.
All these vices were nowhere to be been seen before the displacement of estate workers who were gladly contributing to the country's growth without any expectations besides being able to live in harmony with other Malaysians.
It is undeniable that Indian labour opened up the forests, established the rubber plantations, built the roads, railways, set up the transmission lines, built the ports and airports.
In addition, Indian civil servants formed the core of the civil service and the medical service. Indian veterinarians looked after animal husbandry.
Indian teachers formed the backbone with the missionaries of the teaching service. Indians pioneered private education in the country.
So where did it go wrong and what have been the corrective actions?
We have known the wrongs since 1957, but why are the corrective actions are seen in a political light when Hindraf bring them up?
Going back to the current scenario of the fasting by Waythamoorthy, it is unfortunate that fellow Malaysians are unable to comprehend that Hindraf has tried everything to convince both the BN and Pakatan that the predicament of Malaysian Indians need serious readdressing.
Yet everything has been turned into a political gimmick.
Waythamoorthy refused bail when he was arrested in November 2007 as he felt he did not do anything wrong in fighting for Malaysian Indians.
Now he is ready to embark on a sole journey with his faith that through his fasting and prayers, there will be some resolution for the oppressed and marginalised Malaysian Indians so that they also can enjoy the fruits of this nation.
It would be a pity if we can't be guided on what is moral and humane, as this is not a touch and go matter.
We must have conviction in what we want, and leave the bickering aside. Malaysian Indians must face the reality that there is no substitute for the unity of the community in addressing basic humane issues.