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.
Blogroll of Indian Atheists and Agnostics
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