The best analogy that I can provide to illustrate the situation of working-class Indians is that of a man who has just experienced a heart attack. When someone suffers a heart attack, he or his family will channel all their resources to saving his life, other concerns become secondary, at least for the moment.
That is exactly what the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) is doing - providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for working-class Indians. Can BN or Pakatan Rakyat see themselves doing anything like this?
In the past, some Indians have fought for Indian rights. Some went unnoticed, while others gave up halfway because of fear or were bought-over. Today one man took it beyond limits never experienced before. One man decided to sacrifice his life for the cause. That man spent five years away from home, lonely and cold in a little cramped apartment. He could not watch his kid growing up.
How many of us are willing to be physically separated from our spouses and kids? This man took the challenge. He never gave up. Today, he has decided to give his life for the cause. He is no other than Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoorthy who is currently staging a hunger strike. The strike is in its 10th day and is fast taking a toll on his health. Soon, his organs will fail.
Hindraf is merely asking for the minimum. The request for a RM4.5 billion budget to solve immediate problems faced by Indians may seem like a huge amount. If you read the blueprint, you will realise that the demands are extremely minimal. For instance, when RM4.5 billion is spread across 57 years (due to 57 years of neglect), it amounts to RM79 million a year.
The annual national budget of the federal government is RM250 billion. Can you honestly say that what Hindraf is asking for is excessive - hardly two percent of the annual national budget? Is what Hindraf asking for, unreasonable? I do not need to elaborate on what this means compared to the enormous amounts spent elsewhere. It's a no-brainer.
Unreasonable? Perhaps not
Now, is it unreasonable for Hindraf chairperson Waythamoorthy to stage a hunger strike? Is it too much to demand for a 1.8 percent budget for a community of eight percent (the percentage of Indians in Malaysia could probably be larger than eight percent)?
Wealthy, middle-class, and educated Indians must find ways to help Hindraf solve the problem of working-class Indians. The working-class scruffy Indian defines the Indians in Malaysia. You will never be able to run away from that. All of us must look at this as a cause for a group that is in dire need for help.
It is not about race. It is about justice, it is about fairness. It is about support for a fellow human. It is about rights for all. Natural law dictates that every citizen is entitled to justice and human rights. Now is the time to unite for the cause. Support my call to unite. Provide the overwhelming support we need to force both Pakatan Rakyat and or BN to take this seriously. Pass this message to all.
Let's not play the blame game. When one starts the blame game, the other will react. It will go on forever. There is no end to this. What I propose is to forget the past and work on a concrete solution to the Indian problems now.
Even if you are against Waythamoorthy's hunger strike idea, please support the cause because the Indian community must survive the heart attack it has sustained. I travelled 16,000km to visit Waythamoorthy in Rawang. Will you travel 16km to gather for a demo in support?
PROF DR SUGUMAN NARAYANAN is a Political Science professor at a university near Dallas, Texas, United States.