Scribbling it out – For the ‘Thought Police’

A few things have been troubling me, and before it engulfs a larger portion of my brain than it already does; I feel I need to write it down and try to make a little sense out of it.

I have, also by the virtue of the constitution, and of universally respected and accepted rights by the simplest virtue of being born as a human being, the right to think. We do not yet (maybe yes) live in the Orwellian world where Big Brother ruled, as it was described. We are close, yes; but there is still no ‘maintained’ squad of the ‘Thought Police’ as he described in the timeless classic, 1984. Maybe it exists in different ways – it is only a matter of time it takes physical shape.

Why I dragged a world-renowned writer to seek justification for my arguments, I am not very sure. But when I think of all that keeps happening around me, nothing else in classical literature comes closer to explain the idea of this society which I am trying to understand, and illustrate. This is not an apologist effort or to slowly convince people to come to my side of the arguments. It is simply and plainly an effort to self-reflect, and to establish a cause-effect relationship for the future.

I do not like the Prime Minister my country has; I never did. I also realise that He is merely an image of so many things I detest that I am unable, and even unwilling to ‘look at the brighter side’. On countless occasions have people asked me why, attacked me and cursed me for saying this out loud, or thinking this out loud. This ‘argument’ today has no place in my priority of things. If someone had really wanted to understand the numerous reasons, they would have actually made the effort. But it is done mostly for the joy of heckling, I guess. I believe the question should have been framed the other way round. I should have been equally aggressive in my ‘comments’ – asking them to justify their opinions. But I never did. I lack(ed) the courtesy and energies to do so with such an alarming rate of people – to ask these questions.

Today, when I see a man up there, revered with loud thumping of people with social, cultural and political privilege, it is deeply unsettling. It unnerves a few tempers. Maybe we are indeed speaking for and with different people. Our honourable PM represents the interest of people who revere him, cheer him, throw open their pockets, and put their trust in a man who says with the roar of a tiger that he will do what he will do – dare to stop him; and people vexed with their despair of everyday life kowtow to the most supreme being.

It is no secret that the corporate money which fuelled the media-intensive campaign is now starting to get its returns, in bulk. Look at the series of constitutional amendments which have been attempted, and passed – and try drawing the lines yourself. I have been meeting people from the villages, groups and institutions which are bearing the burden of the entire ‘development’ – the claimed mandate for the current government. It has forced many to the brink of their own survival, and many are desperate to seek help for bringing into effect constitutional provisions for safeguarding basic values of human rights. When even travelling to a Tehsil office eats away so much of their income, and when District Collectors come marching in with their sepoys and force them to sign ‘acceptance orders’ to take away their rights – imagining legal right and recourse to natural justice is a little far-fetched, and at times even utopian!

It would not only be naïve to ‘wait and watch’ (as many argue) but also idiotic to let things pass. I can bring out examples of dams, mines, slum demolitions and building of malls, among the many things when I say this; but I realize that the entire debate will end up with rhetoric arguments on the development agenda (including some from my side). If only I could list down on a single piece of paper (I intend to do it at a later stage – when I can have the energy and the resources at my disposal) the coercion at the ground, the attacks on groups wanting to invoke and uphold constitutional rights, of growing polarization in the society and the fear all (not so fancily privileged) sections of our society) are experiencing, both in reality and in looming threat!

I also realize that there is growing clamour of ‘Modi-critics’– which turns off many people who really want to engage. Someone told me some time back while I was trying to evade this topic on a beautiful jolly evening – “I am willing to listen. Tell me why you think what you think.” I was lured in for an hour of exciting conversation. All it took was two minutes before the person brought out arguments on the need to be a superpower, moved on to some random statistics on military growth and what not. I was disappointed. “Read my blog and we will come back to this”, I sheepishly said before going back to cooking. During a recent train journey, of complaining of bad food in the trains, a fellow passenger said – “Modi has come. Now he will take care of this. Sabko tight kar dega.

It is one thing to not want to do something about things, and expect a superhero to come solve all your problems. But it is completely irresponsible to also make irrational choices, when millions of people are actually standing up and saying things you were not willing to hear, or know. It pisses me off , a lot!
The ‘mandate’ of the country is to be respected, and I am not wanting or willing to ‘demonise’ people who think exactly how the social, economic and political elite want them to think. And I am also pretty sure this mandate will change direction if and when ‘people’ find their interests are not being fulfilled. This is the strength and the limitation of the existing electoral system – which gives us the power to only change governments, unless people really want to engage in the concept of ‘active citizenship’ (which by fact moves well beyond criticizing politicians and parties at the corner chai stalls – now morphed into social networking sites).
The politics of the country is not my business alone. And is not your business alone. It is a historic moment today in an evolutionary process where a variety of groups of people are wanting (and struggling) to make ends meet, and live in peace and prosperity – but not at the cost of their lives and livelihood, not through the taking away of natural resources in favour of huge corporations, and not by letting the idiots of the Hindutva brigade roam free. Till the time it continues to exist, so will my protest.
What we choose to do, and think is indeed with us now. Let us not point guns at each other without taking an effort to think and understand. Let us not claim supremacy of caste, religion, gender, race or anything for that matter when human suffering does not appall us – and it does not shake the human inside us. Let us not claim to be belonging to a higher evolutionary process in the history of humans when we can actually point out why some innocent people deserved to die, and laugh about it or justify people who applaud such actions.

It is a gruesome and violent society we live in, but we do not necessarily have to live in one.

Let us change this too. Let us start with oneself then.

One at a time?

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