DISCLAIMER : The views given below are solely of the author
and are not an endorsement or criticism of any political/social/religious group. The opinions are purely social commentary, protected under Article 19(1)(a) Freedom of Speech and Expression guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and are in no way intended to attract Section 499, Defamation, of the Indian Penal Code
To say that the current social climate in India is unstable is a bit of an understatement. From public lynching of beef-consumers and gunning down rationalists in broad daylight to raping two-year olds, our country is facing probably one of the greatest humanitarian meltdowns. I think if I possessed any talent for song-writing, I could do a fairly impressive redux of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, and yet I would barely scratch the surface. Not even a musical commentary could sum up what’s gone wrong with this country.
As a woman, I’m nervous. As a rationalist, I’m scared. As a human being, I’m absolutely devastated. I don’t know what the newspaper headlines will say tomorrow : BJP slaps beef ban in Kashmir? No place in India for Muslims fleeing religious prosecution? Is Narendra Modi on a world tour? Uproar in Delhi after toddler raped? Outspoken Indian rationalist killed by gunmen? Two Dalit children burned alive?
The sheer depravity of these acts is not the only thing that’s cause for panic. It’s the deeper, more subtle undertones of religious intolerance, misogyny and communal hatred that seems to have gripped the nation which worries me more. Can you honestly step outside the house today, absolutely sure that you’re not going to be the victim of some kind of hate-crime?
Part of me believes that this country has gone mad. We seem to think it’s perfectly normal to maim, kill and annihilate anyone who’s different or raises their voice against the majority opinion. And tell me, who is this Majority? Hindus? Are we like our ‘sacred’ cows now, being shepherded from one green pasture to another, content with chewing cud mindlessly while others are slaughtered mercilessly?
Our country is suffering from an incurable deficiency of compassion, love and tolerance. When we chose our new Prime Minister in 2014, the “Ache Din Aa Gaye” headline was enough to instil hope and optimism. But if these are Ache Din, then Lord have mercy, what will the Bure Din bring? Granted, in the last elections we had a poor selection of political leaders and picked the best out of them. That’s the incontrovertible truth. You’d have to be mental to vote for Congress again.
But would you have to be an extremist to vote for BJP?
It’s starting to look that way. The Hindu nationalist elements are starting to attain dictatorial proportions. We’re all becoming a bunch of bigoted, misognyistic, religious fanatics. The media is behaving like a pack of snarling wolves, picking up any random statement or event, sensationalizing it, indulging in shouting matches on national television while upper class Hindus tut at their flatscreens, happy in the knowledge that they’re safe.
Clearly there is some fatal flaw in our upbringing. Was it our generation that was brought up with such intolerance, or was it our parents’, or our grandparents’? Is it just me, or are you also struggling to understand what is happening?
This reminds me too much of that scene from the movie Bruce Almighty, when Jim Carrey is about to have his big moment as anchor and the world outside the studio has gone berserk. Our parents are teaching us far too much about how to become class-toppers, about India going digital and how to get good jobs abroad but not enough about how to be decent human beings. No one seems to have taught us fundamental human rights : You must not rape women. You must not hate Muslims. You must not kill Atheists.
We’re not just suffering from a heat-wave. We’re suffering from a hate-wave. It’s a reflection on the falling standards of our family institution. Think about it : Every person who’s either killing or simply being a silent bystander, presumably belongs to a conventional Indian family and it seems like they’ve been brought up on a diet of hate, violence and apathy.
I’m a Buddhist, so frankly speaking I have no right to comment on religious violence when my own philosophy is to “Keep my head when all about me are losing theirs” (Rudyard Kipling). Maybe I’m not erudite enough about politics and religion to complain. But I’m still human, and I can tell the difference between love and hate.
India is the largest democracy in the world, but it is also the grandest marriage. A marriage between religions, social groups and cultures. It is a flourishing family, one which boasts of being diverse, secular and peace-loving despite its history of pogroms during the Mughal rule and imperial oppression under the British rule. But today, all I see is a family that is scattering. A marriage that is breaking.
And like at the end of any marriage, there’s only one question we’re going to ask ourselves :
Where did the love go?