Sunday, March 15, 2015

Under Threat: My Idea of India!

Something has been bothering me for a while now. I feel threatened, my thoughts feel threatened, my voice feels threatened. My identity feels threatened. My identity as an Indian feels under a question mark today, I cannot express in words completely. It's just a sinking feeling.

Blame it on my roots and formal education that sowed the seeds of the idea. The idea that India is a modern nation. The idea that everyone is an equal citizen of this country. The idea that I can be myself without being asked for my religion or faith. The idea that a girl and a boy are equals in this country. The very idea that freedom of thought and rational thinking is the cornerstone of our culture. The idea that law will treat everyone the same, irrespective of caste, creed, color, or sex, and definitely faith. The idea that there is diversity in unity. The idea that millions of freedom fighters sacrificed their lives for this idea. For Freedom. What shame!

What shame when today we are hell bent on poisoning the air with slogans of GHARWAAPSI, LOVEJIHAD, and many more. What shame when a thousands of NIRBHAYAS happen all over the country and yet we blame women for the sick behavior of our men. What shame when we BAN content just because it is based on facts we do not want to accept. What shame when we harp on economic growth and BUY media to write or publish the all is beautiful story of India. What shame when the young intelligentsia of the nation start mocking SECULAR thought as SICK and when being a LIBERAL is being left oriented or being aligned to a certain political party. Culture!

Indian culture is one of the toughest things to define, for the idea of India as a nation state never existed before the 1850's. There were kings, kingdoms, nobles, peasant, and traders and artisans and so forth. No identity of faith. Identity of birth or identity of region, that's was the centerpiece of our cultural showpiece. If every Indian followed Hindutva, why did the Marathas raid and plunder the people during their reign? Why did the Mughals not destroy every Hindu place of worship? Why did we have people like Kabir and Surdas speaking of deeds and spirit and good in every faith and not one religion in particular? Why did the British India had 540 or more princely states and not just one single unity called India or Bharat? Facts!

Fact is, the idea of India itself is so modern that it's hard to give a cultural identity to it, without encompassing the fact that diversity of faith, language, beliefs and cultures is what is the soul of this idea. Rational thinking has been the soul of Hindu thought and scriptures, and it is the fundamental reason why India over centuries has blended so well with other cultures, because we have been and are free thinking people by design. Fact is India is not what the Mughals conquered or the Marathas won from them, it is not the legacy of Ashoka or the Bharat of Mahabharat. It is a beautiful thought of a nation state, a modern nation state, whose very conception deserves merit to the founding fathers and mothers of this nation that I was educated about in my early years. Foundations!

The strength of any structure relies heavily upon its foundations. The idea of India was laid on the foundations of secularism, freedom, liberty, justice and equality. I see all these foundations under immense stress today. Being a secular is akin to being pro minority today, and the fierceness with which this has been attacked, calls for a deep introspection. We should go no further away than our neighbor Pakistan to realize the perils of a fanatic nation, whose condition is worse than a dying corpse today. Look at any modern nation, and as most Indians, I too have an American dream. The beauty about America, like India, is the way, the state runs. It gives a shit to your faith. Make money and America loves you.

Freedom is such a lame word in today's age. Everyone is free in this country, British went back in 1947. Well then, why the fuss? Well then, a free country cannot guarantee employment to millions. Our rhetoric is filled with minority bashing, and this is a free country. Its not that this never happened before or that all this is new. Sympathy, that's how most Indians reacted to all this before. A SICKULAR journalist would publish some article calling for freedom of religion and the moderate Indians will hail the publication, and everybody keeps calm. Today, a dangerous apathy is taking over the Indian Psyche. The rich never cared, so lets spare them. It's the middle class, the exploding middle class, whose apathy is reaching to meteoric levels. The media is controlled by the elite and they hardly care but for the TRPs and the advertorial money. The India of past, not very past, had a voice of reason. The economic euphoria coupled with the rhetoric is sinking that voice. Fast, and furious.

It might also be the case that people have stopped caring about the rhetoric and are not interested in wasting time in protests or condemnations. But, is our silence giving confidence to the voices which do not believe in the idea of India, the way it was conceived during the freedom struggle? Are we allowing our foundation to be attacked far too often by termites or do we think its too deep and well rooted for minor tremors to collapse the structure?

I have never felt this way before,about my idea of India, under threat. I will always want my future generations to grow in a free, liberal, modern environment. Present times pose a great challenge to that aspiration. I wish the foundations emerge stronger post these tremors. I have my doubts, though. Yet, whenever I walk out of my home and meet commoners on streets, at restaurants, at workplace, I feel hopeful. I see people like me. People who want to work and derive meaning out of their lives. People who have aspirations for a better living. People who love happiness and peace. It's their silence which worries me, and it's their capacity for rational thinking, which gives me hope.