Silence on Trial

The politics of human silence is studied by a French theorist, Paul Virilio.  He seems to have put human silence on trial. Perhaps, this idea to put silence of trial has come of age in our country.  The horror of rising prices of petrol,  mismanagement of the global pandemic, the growing decimals of  politics of hate ,  the sinking economy, the famer’s protests and several other issues that plague our nation  do not seem to affect the sensitivities of the majority in our country. This is why it is opportune time to put silence on trial.  Things are also bleak in Goa. We have seen silence over theft of people’s mandate by the BJP or the BJP-fication of Congress/Congressifaction of BJP  as well as silence over risking Goan lives to promote tourism by keeping our borders open, quietness over the arrest of our  school children etc. 

Thanks to the people of Goa, silence has been partially disrupted.  Here it has to be painfully asserted that the loud silence of CSJP over the three linear projects, which otherwise joins the people’s struggles is surprising if not disturbing. Hence, the trial of silence may reveal how we as a society has become passive and ‘effeminate’.  It has been argued that in the past, that it is because the Indian man had been passive and effeminate that India suffered invasions and colonization.  In the same vein, Ashish Nandy  tells us that due to what has been understood has as effemination  of Indian man, militant and fighter God’s like Lord Ram were promoted during British colonization. The question therefore becomes important: have we come once again back to a square circle? Are we silently writing obituary of our glorious civilization?

 It is not just that the majority in India has chosen silence, it is actively promoted by the state that is silencing all dissent. But it is paradoxical, while there is a culture of the politics of silence, we can also notice noisy political rallies around our Prime Minister who has undoubtedly become a cultic leader of the masses as well as heated prime time debates on the television at night.  While one can identify noisy soundscapes of the ruling benches, we find a  silent parliament and laws being made without any debates and discussion. 

There is another side to the politics of silence. The farmer’s cry, the migrant’s plight amidst the threat of a lockdown and the voice of the people of Goa against the three linear project are met with silent and deaf ears of the leaders that rule us. A kind of mutism has taken a strangle hold over everyone in our country. We indeed have an amazing capacity for silence even amidst heartless horrors of violence.  This does not mean that our collective conscience is dead. There are still many who resist and dissent against this dark silence that has descended over us, but their voices our drowned in the noise of silence of the majority that is afflicting our nation today.

 It seems that we are all castrated and have ceased to be fertile or productive.  With the opposition being crippled, there is only one fertile/ productive  Phallus in our country. This has been clearly articulated by a spellbound slogan ‘Modi hai to mumkin hai’.  History seems to have come full circle. Once again Indians have embraced passivity and become castrated/ unproductive.  Indeed, silence is alienating us from each other, our country and its civilizational history. 

The growing dead silence does not seem to disturb our sensitivities. The fact that majority has chosen silence, the economic resources of our people are silently handed over to the likes of Adanis and Ambanis. In Goa we are silently tolerating the coalolization of our national resources like our waterways, railways and even the roadways.  Silence is dark and its colour is that of coal in Goa. The question is who will break this silence and wash away the dust of coal from our face? 

Paradoxically, our silence is not silent. It speaks loudly. It tells us that we are shamelessly putting up with a nightmare. The promised  Hindu Rasthra is intoxicating  but it does blinds us over the way and manner in which the majority is deprived from the economic pie.  But, all this deprivation is done in the name of  rule of the majority. 

The culture of silence has led to the disappearance of ethics as well as aesthetic sensibilities. Our aesthetics has become monochromatic. It knows only one colour, the sacred saffron colour of detachment. Today it is detached form detachment and has become attached to hate, discrimination and even violence. It has become a colour terror to the minorities in our country. It has somehow changed its meaning in silence and we have failed to detect it as an aesthetics of narcissism of identity politics has numbed our sensibilities.  Our silence tells us that we have largely lost the space of pity and sympathy in our society.

We do have the challenge to take the poetic truth out of the brutal reality that is facing us.  To do this we have to courageously give up our voyeurism for a spectacle.  We certainly do not like silence. But our hunger to find our voice is satisfied by noisy political rallies around a cultic leader and the noisy television debates much like the American television soaps that entertains as well as does the laughing for it’s audience. Indeed, we have become infantalized and rendered voiceless by a voyeurism for a spectacle.  It is therefore, high time that we get out of the mutism that has paralysed us. 

The ideological masks that take away our voice have fallen but we could not detect their humpty dumpty fall.  The Congressification of the BJP or import of leaders from other political parties   and it alliance with the promotion of the elite cronyism in the form of the Ambanis and the Adanis have already silently unmasked that ideology/ nationalism is only a hiding place to take control of  the rightful  public resources. This silent  privatization of public resources is a repetition of another colonization of a silent, passive and effeminate India.  This time it is by an elite from inside. 

Therefore, it is inevitable that all Indians today  learn to have faith in their 36 inch chest. We cannot abdicate our role and hand it over to a cultic leader thinking that he will deliver everything. The silent long rope that we have given to the ruling dispensation manifests that it does not have the talent nor desire to bring welfare and prosperity to all. Therefore, the question is: Will you stand up, speak and be counted? Otherwise, nothing will save us from a second colonization from our very own power elite who mimics the colonizer’s divide and rule with great success with precision.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao