This past weekend, I walked in a protest march for the first time and joined a quarter of a million of my fellow citizens in a historic women’s march in San Francisco. Across the world more than 3 million people marched together in solidarity, including thirty in Antarctica! After months of a bruising campaign where the rhetoric was vicious, I felt humanity surround me. The guy with a rainbow hat who stood for gay rights walked alongside a woman who was there to protect abortion rights. A young woman on a tram held a young child who was developmentally disabled. A sign in her hand read, “I march for my son.” An old woman in her wheelchair gripped the handle bars and streaks of water ran down her eyeglasses as she powered forward. She led a line of wheelchairs that inched forward, trying to navigate a path in the rain. A wave of voices cascaded over the crowd. “Love trumps Hate.”

When we walked with sheets of rain pelting down, that visual in itself was the perfect metaphor for what we face today. We have to power forward every day with  action. To have historic numbers that rivaled the numbers that came out for the inauguration was a powerful statement. It was action, not just talk. But we cannot forget that marching together is only the first step. Continued sustained action is needed.

We also need to focus on the actions taken by the new Administration, not just their words. Let us not obsess about Sean Spicer’s press conference or President Trump’s tweets—instead, let us keep up to date about the healthcare proposals in the works and let us look at how federal actions affect California. Indian-Americans boast of high educational achievements in every arena. Take that knowledge of balance sheets and technical advancement and train the mind outward to look at public policy.

In fact, decades ago, my grandfather gave up his goal of finishing college to join Mahatma Gandhi’s freedom struggle. The first in his family to go to college, it was a disappointment to his family elders who had no idea about how this decision would affect him. Years later, I met someone of my grandfather’s generation who told me, “What he did was against what a lot of us did at the time. Many of us wanted to get that plum job in British companies and we wanted to live comfortably.”

We cannot continue to “live comfortably.” Our country will be judged not by how it treats its most affluent citizens, but by how it treats the most vulnerable.

I was heartened to read President Obama’s first remarks as a private citizen. He said, “This is a comma, not a period, in the continuing story of building America.” The sentence needs to be completed, and so must the essay. Let us make marks on the page through actions dictated by love.

My life forever pulsates with another love—a love for India. I am blessed to have a felt experience of India through classical dance. As a young girl I had access to India’s finest artistic minds—I watched artists present fine poetry written a few hundred years before they were born. I watched senior citizens, young boys and girls strike their palms keeping time at classical music performances. I participated in experiences where a country’s culture expresses the finest parts of its being. But, I also walked past slums that were a world removed from mine.

India forever draws you to soaring heights and plumbs you into depths of despair. The juxtaposition of life’s best and worst within India is inescapable. What is indeed the idea that is India?

Our February cover story features passionate doers who love India. Those we have profiled did not just talk about nostalgic experiences of buying sliced mango with salt or sleeping on a cool tile floor in the summer with fans whirring above. They took that love and they acted upon it, each in their own way. All for love!

It is, after all, February, isn’t it?

Nirupama Vaidhyanathan,
Managing Editor

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