Feb 25, 2009

Divided We Stand

How many people does it take to show us the kind of fractured society we live in? How many rogues does it take to make us realise how inept our civilian system is? How many bigots does it take to let us know that we live in a country full of insensitivity where people are not even ready for dialogue? Violence is, in most cases, the language that speaks loudest and is heard best. Intolerance is becoming more and more inherent in our psyche, in a nation that prides itself in being one of the most celebrated democracies in the world.

Our Constitution bestows upon everyone an irrevocable right to freely express themselves. Our press has great freedom and is totally independent of the government or political forces. With such freedom and fairness having been provided to us, why does the need of resorting to violence to get oneself heard arise? The country today is full of pseudo 'patriots' and pseudo 'custodians of culture' who have a megalomaniac and twisted idea that they represent a larger section of people, and an iota of an incident or issue is enough for them to create mayhem and cause destruction in the country. In fact, this is the shortest and most effective way to ensure their fifteen minutes of fame. What with the sensational media being always present in the wrong place at the wrong time to ensure widespread coverage, they become the talk of the town (actually, nation) for a billion-plus people and overshadow a billion-plus 'real' problems, if only for a few days. This grants them far more than the fifteen minutes of fame they initially aspired for. Surprisingly, or rather not-so-surprisingly, the police is never equipped to handle such criminals. Political might leaps at every such opportunity and laps it up, culminating in another of those now-weary catfights between the ruling party and the opposition. Hitherto unheard of fringe parties jump to cash in on the incident by supporting whoever they feel is the sturdiest ladder for them to reach the coveted PM's chair. As for the common citizen, whoever cared for him/her in the first place?

It more often than not seems as if there are two completely different yet parallel worlds existing in India. One, made of and by progressive people who are receptive to new ideas which may be different from their own, and want to truly see India as a real superpower. The other, home to regressive and obstinate people who make sure that India recedes to the dark ages they live in, and remains stagnant there. In the rapidly widening chasm between these two sections, it is the nation that suffers the most. India has always been identified with the phrase 'Unity in Diversity'. I wonder today if it will hold true for long.

Democracy, by its very nature, is given to recalcitrance. India, once described as a 'functioning anarchy', is naturally prone to sharply conflicting pulls and pushes, not least on account of its sheer size and diversity. Suddenly, uniformity and nationalism have become co-terminous and the country is gasping amidst socio-ethnic shackles. 62 years into independence, India is confronted by a series of schisms that indicate a dangerous emotional polarisation along social, regional and religious lines. This is tempered with a gross popular apathy to the major issues staring us in the face. The country seems to simply not agree on her fundamentals.

The prevailing despondency can be directly linked to the emotional upheaval India is facing, more so in the light of the grim economic mood. Additionally, an aura of restlessness and bubbling frustration simmers in our heart, fuelled by divisive politics and ridiculous claims to ownership of India. We have witnessed Maharashtra v/s Rest of India. We have witnessed attacks on faith and assault on sentiments in Orissa and Karnataka. Then there was Godhra which is left to bleed incessantly. Kashmir for its Pandits stands as a gaping wound in need for redressal and amenity. These epidemics are rapidly proliferating to engulf more of India within their filthy folds. Political parties hope to translate such sentiments into votes, all at the cost of our fundamental human right to peace and happiness.

The absence of a total correlation between issues and voting actually serves as a safety valve. In the past few months, communalism and Pakistan-sponsored terrorism have grabbed the national headlines. On these issues there is a definite Hindu-Muslim rift. These are worrying signs that point to the emotional gulf between the majority community and the most significant minority. Nor is this rift a persisting relic. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the youth seems to be more aware and belligerent than the elders. This raw, untapped energy is yet to find focus. A positive outlet may take India to new heights; in the wrong hands, it could plunge the country into civil strife. A divided India can swing either way.


  1. ''With such freedom and fairness having been provided to us, why does the need of resorting to violence to get oneself heard arise? ''

    yes all the violence is the problem..it seems to have seeped into our blood now..

    political parties hope to cash in all these ...yes...

    ''The absence of a total correlation between issues and voting actually serves as a safety valve''
    you know Surbhi you say it so well here that let me just say hats off to your clear concise writing...
    I can only agree with all the statements..

    and yes youth has major role to play here..in the India of today

  2. Indyeah:
    I love how you are almost always the first to comment. :) Thanks so much.
    Yes, the politicians work their vote-banks on partially related or unrelated issues, or even non-issues. Look at BJP with their 'Ram Mandir' agenda, which they say is their prime concern now. As if our decision to vote depends on the existence of a temple! And people don't even care! But simply by raising the issue, they can arouse sentiments which would never have been arused on their own. Similarly, terrorism is a national issue independent of elections, but it is being used as an election issue. All this simply to ride on the wave of mass sentiment.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I couldn't connect properly because I always need time but what I know is that bloodshed is always bad and Life once gone is gone forever, do whatever after that be it marches, masses or whatever is possible.....:)
    Its not only water but Life is also Precious, Save it.

    Life is Beautiful, njoy :)

  5. Tarun:
    True, and very well said. Yes, bloodshed is always bad; wherever it happens it leads to loss of human life. There can never ever be a reason or an incident or anything at all to justify it. Never.

  6. I don't hate death but I love life, this is what I once told to one of my friends (in my blog) and he couldn't understand what I was talking about.
    Now you kill Kasab or not that's a secondary thing but if Rajat had died then he had died, finish :(
    Overwhelmed by your blog and OUT capmaign, so adjust this comment somehow :)

  7. Tarun:
    Beautifully said - "I don't hate death but I love life"! Sweet!
    Thanks for the kind words. :) Makes me feel I'm doing something positive, for others for a change.
    BTW, I loved that post on how you wish to get out of your company and reclaim your life. I feel somewhat similarly, which will be evident from my comment on that post. :) I agree - our education has made us cowards. Not quite the effect we'd thought it would have on us!

  8. You write excellent Surbhi !

    "Violence is, in most cases, the language that speaks loudest and is heard best." Its the best description for our practical freedom of expression. When government doesn't do anything, it seems those maniacs have freedom to express by this language.

    Regarding the violent ones, i would like to add up that anger these days is considered a normal emotion, and violence a normal reaction. Even sometimes the media is not brave and confident enough on its conscience. Recently there was a mishap in an institute nearby, an accident actually, and the authorities of institute were unable to provide quick relief. But how do u justify smashing window panes, cars, and other things of public property in name of protest. Even newspapers mentioned it like "Gussaye Loogon Ne", like they were justified enough for doing that.

    Instead of two parallel world, i would even say that there are perhaps many worlds. Its perhaps nothing but manifestation of desires of power and money at individual level, and frustration by those who do not get it, which leads to diverse reactions of people or groups.

    I personally feel that the present so called democratic system of choosing our representatives needs serious changes. A person cant simply judge the caliber of a potential candidate just on basis of few speeches written by others. Also i feel the need to directly choose the head of my country , as my american counterparts are able to.

    And last but not least wish of mine : Hope all this gets easily loaded through that word verification step :).

    Keep writing !
    You Rock !

  9. Well freedom is a relative term and most of us take it for granted. Its just now, we are waking up to the possibility of someone striping us of it. I think what India lacks is objective. Quite frankly 2020 thing is bullshit.

  10. RK:
    Thanks so much. I don't know whether I deserve all this, considering my writing carries a lot of research work and may not always be original. This one is, though, and I'm proud of it.
    If you read my post on terrorism, "The Terror Within", I have written exactly what you've said here. Anger is commonplace today, and it is mostly due to frustration due to uneven distribution of resources.
    As regards lecting the head of state directly, it is an unfortunate reality that the poor who vote in India do so because they've been given or promised free and ample supply of food, liquor, clothing, and whatever else the need in their daily lives. And these people constitute a large part. Even if they don't, we have incidents of the candidate's thugs capturing booths or registering multiple votes under one name. Corruption and deceit runs deep within our system.
    What we can do is to ensure that ALL educated citizens - and ALL the youth - go out and vote. That may make a difference to an otherwise inept system.
    As for the word verification, I truly understand its a nuisance, but it is necessary. I think I should provide an email address too, where people can write if they can't get through here.
    Keep visiting! You rock no less! :)

  11. Chirag:
    I agree - 2020 is abslutel far-fetched if we look at the state of affairs today. And it makes me feel pessimistic too.
    However, it is WE who can make a difference. I'm not so delusional as to dream of changing the world, or even the country, but I can at least do my bit. By standing up to and against injustice. By voting for the better (coz no one's right) candidate. By motivating and encouraging my friends to do the same. By creating awareness about what is right and what isn't in our country.
    This may not make India turn 180 degrees over, but it will at least give me the satisfaction that I tried. :)
    You said, "I think what India lacks is objective." Yes. Like I wrote, "The country seems to simply not agree on her fundamentals." That is what we lack - fundamentals, or at least agreement on them.

  12. @ Surbhi
    Shab pata hai muje how much i rock , tabhi toh koi mele blog pe comment ni karta :(


  13. RK:
    LOL... That was cho chweet. Coercion works, even if disguised as cuteness. ;)
    But remember, no commenting does not mean no support of our views. :)

  14. So from now onwards, i'll try to SUPPORT YOUR VIEWS !



  15. "Democracy, by its very nature, is given to recalcitrance"

    Surbhi, excellent post. I agree with that statement above. I often use a similar view to explain to my american colleagues why things get done in china so easily but takes years in India. I have observed, that typically, for democracy to function properly, a country needs to have a large middle class population with a decent standard of living - which is hardly the case in India (I maybe wrong but from my observations of the most flourishing democracies I think I am not too far from the truth). Although I consider myself lucky to have never lived in such oppressive countries.

    I also liked the conclusion very much. Very well written and nicely articulated. I actually read your entire post twice (yes, you guessed it right - firstly, because I am too dumb but more importantly because I really liked your style and what you had to say).I will add you to my blogroll and my rss feed.

    Btw, I recently (3 days back) started a blogroll for Indian atheists and agnostics. You may want to take a look at it and consider joining.


  16. 'Unity in Diversity', I too have been wondering for a while is the saying still holds for India, in its present state. I love your analysis of the situation, and also the hope that you have presented saying the youth is sensible, and intelligent and they have the power to bring about a positive change. Lovely post Surabhi!

  17. Nitwit:
    Thanks a ton! I'm flattered! :)
    "I am too dumb..." Yeah, and I'm a pink penguin in a tutu!
    India does have a large middle class, but not the standard of living the should have. The rich are rich and the poor, poor. That is the kind of disparity that exists - a chasm which seems too wide to ever be filled, courtesy the deep-rooted corruption.
    But for the various governments that may have been 'by the people' but were never 'for the people', India would have been as progressive as the next developed nation.
    I remember some Aussie cricketer on a tour to India recently who said we were a third-world country. At any other time, it would have pierced my ego and pride. That day, strangely, I felt ashamed at the reality and not angry at his impudence.

  18. Goofy Mumma:
    Thanks! :)
    I truly believe that the power lies with us - the youth - more than anyone else in this country. We have the power to make or break our own lives and future. What is needed is to channelise this power into the right direction and make it a conduit to happiness.

  19. "How many bigots does it take to let us know that we live in a country full of insensitivity where people are not even ready for dialogue?"

    Actually, just one! Try BigotBlog : http://bigotblog.wordpress.com/2008/09/28/a-widening-divide/

    Nice post, by the way!

  20. Sid:
    Welcome! You've been blogrolled! :)
    Amazing post, that!


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