Before you dismiss it like probably you do to everything else, or nod in agreement similarly with other things, process it for a moment.
To the ardent fan and the follower, or to the moderate who today sees no other alternative, there probably is a need for all of us to sit down and talk.
No, not about the same things.
I know for a fact that you are bored of hearing the same things over and over again. Although that does not take away any bit about the authenticity of those arguments or the convictions of people who have written or spoken these things, there is probably a side of the story which has now emerged which needs your attention – your active attention, if you may look up from your smart-phone for a bit.
So your wish came true, and all what a lot of other people (including yours truly) had been already saying (fearing) came to be true as well – that your favourite political party now has an angry, stern and undeterred face in your Mr. Modi as the PM candidate of the BJP. I remember all of your status messages to each other and in random groups – celebrating the occasion. And likewise, I also saw the anger in stern anti-Modi groups of people. I saw the television media – unsure of how exactly to respond – but finding more and more ways to sell things, using adjectives which do not usually find mention unless you are trying to oversell a bad product.
If you are reading this, then you also saw and read those. I do not really need to illustrate it here.
For the ones who believe that it is now time for the Hindus to stand up and dictate everyone around; if you think this is a license to kill and loot at will; if you think this will boost foreign investment which in turn will boost everything in the country or you think that it is now time to do away with democracy, because it is just too much hassle – we need to talk. (And yes! as the rhetoric phrase suggests, it is indeed time for trouble)
Because this is not about the same things, as I promised, it is about the other things – all based on assumption, or projections, as I would like to call these.
I made a list of this from the knowledge of reading minds and writings from a lot of people over the last few years. It may only be appended, not removed, in my humble opinion.
So what is this actually about, if not about the Gujarat model of development, or the charisma of the leader, or 2002, or the rise of communalism, or the effective bureaucratic functioning of the state of Gujarat, of administrative clearances to industries doled out sooner, to forming bigger SEZs, low social indicators, poor reports by national and international agencies on development and human rights, ridicules faced by the leader, of his humble origins, the shrewd overthrow of established leaders and the opportune characters, of the hijack of issues of ‘development’, of the pre-existing vibrant economy of Gujarat, the general apathy of middle-classes, the ghettoization, of intolerance, the building of reactionary politics and more reactionary societies?
It is none of this – and somewhere all of this. It is a call to think maybe a tiny bit more before we take sides. It is a call to think from where we are not – and to be responsible citizens, and be responsible human beings.
Did we all not grow up with the idea that most politicians divide the country for votes, that vested interests run ugly nexus of powerful people who run states and corporations? It seems today many are ready to turn a blind eye to all of it. It is not that all of that we learnt from chai-corners or drawing room discussions was all wrong, it at-least reflected the anger and frustrations of the people living off on the streets and in the homes. From a class of people which has been branded always as blaming politics for even their vehicles not giving enough mileage, this is sea-change. Everything is fair now, everything is right, because it is war, right?
Economic policies lie at the intersections of majority of conflicts in the country. Do you really think putting out fire with fire is a good idea? Do you think that the majority of conflicts in the country which derive their existence somewhere due to aggressive capitalist expansion, can be solved by more and more of capitalist expansion? Is it not exactly the Modi model of development – if there even exists one!
When the critiques for global capital systems are made, it is usually not its dismissal in the entirety but also a way to understand the resonance it creates among people who are not ‘you’, people who are somewhere also there because you are ‘somewhere’. All these are perspectives, and are living realities for a lot of people. When most of you have claimed to be wanting to do good to society, (I till date have not figured out what exactly is that supposed to mean!) take care to think of wanting to look at all the aspects before you put a blanket on the definitions of development, growth, struggle, culture, and all of that.
Nationalist and citizenship are evolving concepts. To straight-jacket it into only what you believe, and it gets accepted because someone tells you that is how it is, to serve their own vested political and socio-religious interests is violent political behaviour – and from both sides. Probably this will sting, but not everyone believes in ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, or ‘Ram Rajya’, or crying ‘Allah-hu-Akbar’. This cannot determine their patriotism, because many do get anything from this patriotism, and because you cannot build patriots at gunpoint. Is that really so important to hold your head high in false pride – just because it serves some alter-ego for some people, while the others die.
You have claimed all this while to be focused on ‘development’. Because the rest are not issues of development, is it? Only pockets can develop, is it?
Think a bit; because all humans are meant to think. Think something else other than planning your weekend getaways, of where to get booze on the next dry day, or about which malls have the biggest sale offers – because that is exactly the grand way to not let people think. There are a lot of things to think about. And no, it is not somebody else’s responsibility to do that. If it is, then you will have to keep your mouth shut forever and let anything happen – which you believe has to change, right? Isn’t that the slogan which you chant – Change?
So before the project of fitting dreams in people’s eyes even ventures out, think. I will not suggest what to do with your vote – because personally I do not think much will matter who sits at the helm of political power in the country. But I will not make problematic political choices, however insignificant I think they really are, because I believe in the democratic principles of freedom of speech and expression, and of right to life and liberty – and I will not trade warranties over my own right for the absolving for someone else’s. Maybe it is time you do too, or maybe not – it is your choice after all.
You can choose how to die, and kill, or choose how to live.