Shall we Stand and Watch India go by?

Image Source: Rediff

‘…into that heaven of freedom, my father,let my country awake’ prayed illustrious Nobel laureate   Rabindranath Tagore.   The way several of ourfreedoms are being curtailed in our country today, even as we mark the 70th anniversary of our independence, the prayer of Tagore appears still unanswered in many real ways. The killing of rationalists which includes the recent brutal murder of Journalist Gauri Lankesh, the violent protection of the holy cow by the non-state actors, the aggressive nationalism that usurps the right to un-home several Indians by calling them anti-nationals, unplanned andautocratic economic policies like demonetisation, GST, attempts to buy  or muzzle the media, appointment of incompetent personnel  to several  academic offices of great importance, attack on institutions of higher education, rising prices of petrol and other essential commodities, etc., manifest how we seem to be slipping to a hell of (un)freedoms.  One of the major domains that seem to have suffered chief damage is the freedom of mind. Sometime back, several of our intellectuals and creative people had openly protested about the loss of intellectual freedom by returning their awards. We haveseen brewing protests in the form of  student’s revolt, citizen’s debunking of the public lynching through ‘not in my name campaigns’, besides agitations of the famers as well as protest of several caste groups like the Patidars, Jatts and Mahars has not received adequate media attention .  Besides, we have witnessed a loan waver fiasco that has seen even a ridiculous waver of one paisa to a farmer in UP go unpunished.

The fact of growing discontent among the people everywhere is not new. We have already seen such open displeasure before overrampant corruption during the congress regime. This desire for change and emancipation from the stranglehold of the old masters has led us into the prison house of new Masters. Today, frustrations have risen to such an extent that tens and thousands are beginning to demand: ‘Modiji, Hamare bure din vapaskoro’.  The impatience of the people and their growing anger has led the RSS to warn the Government but to no avail.  The rising prices of petrol when the international prices of crude oil do not seem to justify the rise only exhibit the anti-people policies of regime in power.  The pain reached its heights when the increase in LPG prices was also allowed to sky rocket.  Besides, economic insecurities, we have to face deficits of peace and trust in our society. Our society has become fickle and we seem to take offence on a pretext of a trivial issue and often take law in our hands. Terror seems to have become the main stay of our society.  While we are resisting Pakistan sponsored terror in Kashmir, minorities are forced to face the wrath of some non-state actors who justify their crimes of violence and hate by masking them as done in the interest of our nation and the faith of the Majority.  

We seem to have landed intoa dangerous condition that seemsto have let loose the law ofthe jungle amidst us. Our law enforcing institutions seem to have become weak. For some time, these institutions seem to fail us and our democracy seems to co-exist with anarchy. The rule of law seems to be dying. The lynch mobs are not convincingly checked as well as murders of the rationalists have not yet been caught by the long hand of law.  Maybe without becomingcynical, we have to ask a pointed question. Is this state of internal conflict of some against others is natural to us?  Maybe we will have to discern what is presupposed or assumed as a state of nature by us in India. The fact that the majority is silent participant about the state of politics in our country seems to indicate that such a conflict enjoys sanction.  Besides this, we may haveto discern whether this state of conflict is taken for granted in accordance to what is regarded as in keeping to the proper of things for our society. What is the proper of things in our country? How are we to discern it?That which we assume as natural and normal to being Indians, belongs to this domain of the proper.  That which is proper is affirmed as precious and is often ennobled. Hence, what is being ridiculed and what is glorified in our society may assist us to decode that which is thought to be proper to our society. 

What we hold as in accordance to proper things for our country has undergone a change.  What was proper of being Indian is dismantled by a ‘new proper’. This new proper is not peace loving, but is aggressively violent. Indian ethos based on co-existence and all inclusive pluralism is eroded. Secularism of our constitution has become sickular. It is steadilyabnormalised. In its place hate and aggression is normalised.We seem to have kept the Vedas and Upanisadic teachings on toleration for another day.  Dharma seems tohave been replaced by adharma. We have lost the sacredness of humanity. The new proper in our society considersevery Indian as a rival of every other Indian. A group with one religious leaning have become wolf to another group. We seem to have forgotten Vasudeva Kutumbakam. The grand standing of an aggressively violent Indian is normalised and the sacrifice of the army is politicized.  Peaceful co-existence has begun to look like an option of the weak.  Indians who stand for pluralism and freedom of all Indians are ridiculed and those who appear to be afflicted by a virus of bigotry seem to be glorified. Hence, we have an uphill task of deconstructing the new aggressive proper of things. This is why the prayer of Tagore becomes both urgent and relevant to us even today. The new India that is greeted as rising from what we have called the new proper of things aims to build our nation by dividing its nationals. Shall we stand and watch India go by?

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao