Orwell Redux: How Many More Rehanas Will it Take for our Moral Reawakening?

Orwell Redux: How Many More Rehanas Will it Take for our Moral Reawakening?
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Sama Bég

In George Orwell’s classic, “Animal Farm”, the illustrious author narrates the story of a rebellion. The nature of this rebellion is unlike any before it – it is concocted by farm animals against their human owners. “Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs; he is too weak to pull the plough. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself”, declares Major, the porcine self-proclaimed leader of the farm animals.
The animals dream of a time when they can have self rule, a glorious time when they are free to be their own masters and relish in the products of their hard labor. Major reminds his ‘comrades’ that “in fighting against Man, we must not come to resemble him. Even when you have conquered him, do not adopt his vices. And, above all, no animal must ever tyrannize over his own kind. Weak or strong, clever or simple, we are all brothers. No animal must ever kill any other animal. All animals are equal.”
After months of plotting and planning, the rebellion takes place and the animals are victorious. Soon after, the pigs assume leadership because they claim to be ‘the most intelligent’ of the animals. They develop 7 commandments, which include the maxim ‘All Animals Are Equal’. But , with the passage of time, the pigs usurp more and more power and eventually change this maxim to ‘All Animals Are Equal…But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others’. The story ends with the pigs becoming worse than the unjust human rulers they once detested, and the fate of the animals in the farm, far more perilous than it ever had been. Eventually, the rebels become more tyrannical than the tyrants they once rebelled against.
I am here getting ahead of the “story”, so to speak. But, there is an indelible connection to Orwell’s brilliant, allegorical narration and the larger point I want to illustrate.
On October 7th, Rehana Gulzar – a mother of three from Bandipora – was burnt to death by her in-laws. Because her in-laws had reportedly made her life a living hell, Rehana was planning to move out with her husband into a home they were preparing to construct ( the foundation stone for which was laid the day Rehana was burnt alive). Apart from protests in Bandipora by Rehana’s colleagues in the Government Health sector, there have been no shutdown calls, no state-wide protests, and not even further news about this case in major media outlets of Kashmir
Tyranny is tyranny; injustice is injustice – no matter who propagates it. The message of Orwell’s book rings as true today as it did back in 1945. We live in a world where we dream of freedom and self-rule, but the moral fabric that binds a society together and gives it any chance of prosperity has been set ablaze ; only decrepit ashes remain. We protest the injustices done to us by outside forces – as we should – but what of the injustice that we do to each other? What of the scores of land disputes between brothers, what of the hate and venom between family members, what of the sale of donated hospital equipment for the profit of storekeepers, what of the corruption whose stench reeks from every government agency, and what of our Rehanas?
Our society is going through a moral and ethical crisis. The irony is that we choose to gloss over this and callously carry on without lives, deliberately oblivious to issues that sear at our social fabric. How many Rehanas will it take for us to consciously work to rebuild the moral fabric of our society?

The author is the Director of Innovise Healthcare Solutions. She has a Masters in Healthcare Administration from the University of North Florida (USA) and can be reached at: samabeg@gmail.com.