Politically Correct

I sometimes derive great pleasure from political incidents/news even though I don’t like to think of myself as being politically minded. But I guess hardly anyone can survive today without being political. Whether you’re in school, private job, sports, non-profit or public service; you are where you are because you know how to be politically correct, else you would probably be a street dweller by now and wouldn’t be reading this post.

Anyhow, what triggered this post was the recent news that a senior Indian politician, namely Sharad Pawar was slapped by a citizen. The entire parliament session was devoted on politicians expressing their anger and condemning the act as undemocratic. I feel they are scared that the public anger might be on a rise and that they may vanquish under the siege. Well, all these years of repression has to go somewhere, and I won’t be surprised, if starts with a toll on a few of these corrupt politicians.

Why else would these politicians sound so scared, screaming and yelling about democracy, were they not scared for their deteriorating position in the society and the inevitable threat to their lives?

So, why now? I don’t remember seeing them scared when the parliament was attacked by terrorists, they weren’t scared when Hotel Taj was set ablaze by foreign elements, neither did any of them react,  when 500,000 Kashmiri Pandits were uprooted from their homeland.  Now it is different, because all that I mentioned above was all under the control of the Government, but this, the public anger and revolt, no government or even tyranny can contain or survive it, look at Egypt, Libya, Iran etc. from the recent history. India is at the brink of civil revolt. It may hit us when we least expect it. And like weasels, these politicians can see it coming already.

I am very happy and applaud the gentleman who has instilled some fear in the minds of these corrupt and uncouth politicians. At least there is something that has scared the proverbial shit out of them.

Do we need religiously homogeneous Nations around the world? – II

Our country is and has been the largest working democracy in the world for last 60 years. That is quite a feat to achieve. What has made that possible? Very few people can claim to know the answer to that. I am surely not the one of those. However, I can attempt to put forth a theory.

What makes a sour relationship (between father and son, husband and wife, two siblings, or two business partners) last for decades; something that we witness quite often in our country. The answer is quite simple, interdependence. Only those relationships can last for decades in spite of constant bitterness that have some value on both ends that is of mutual benefit for the two participants. A rich father might be a boon for a jobless yet obedient son. A high salaried husband with a pot-belly might consider himself lucky to have a stunningly beautiful wife even if she lacks the home making abilities. Likewise, the Republic of India has been living in one such interdependent relationship, between believers and non-believers, haves and have-nots, industrialists and workers, politicians and citizens and there are millions of more such micro-relationships that form the bigger relationship between the nation and the nationals.

Now that I have drawn such a profound yet incomprehensible analogy, I can leave it open to interpretation of my readers (as an attempt to claim greatness for being abstract) or start explaining each and every word (in condescension), either way there is a relationship that is being exploited by one party more than the other. Without much-a-do I should inform you that this post is not as concrete as its prequel. I am not going to point fingers to this and that and start criticizing and/or praising things that are good or bad with our Nation.

This post is a step in the process of waking-up the monster; the monster that is India. A thinking India. A perceptive India. A wise and vigorous India. The politicians of this nation are like a viruses that renders the entire body of their host nonfunctional yet healthy enough to support their (viruses) growth. They have been living in our nervous system, hampering our ability to come together as a mass of thinking, feeling, reciprocating individuals that share pride in building their nation rather than crying over its slow and steady death.

The party that has ruled our country for the longest time has done nothing but carried forward the same system of divide and rule that British had employed to rule the world. This country has see division based on Region, Religion, Caste, Economic Status, Geography, Natural Resources, Language and Development. All parties that emerged afterward unfortunately learned the same tricks and found out newer ingenious ways of dividing the country. The first division was based on religion; Hindu-Muslim disparity lead to geographic division of this country into three parts, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

After that economic and caste based divide was deployed, using reservation as the key for making one section of people stand apart from the rest and therefore causing unrest in the Nation. A country that has just come out of imperialist oppression is bound to have a larger section of society not doing well economically. Especially with our National leaders making people believe that living for themselves was the most selfish and lowly way of life, tricking them into giving up all their belongings as a sign of solidarity, what was left in this country was pure and unadulterated poverty. This was used to divide people in economic sections: High Class, Middle Class and Lower Class. Thus began the economic divide and consternation between the classes. Even today when we read movie reviews, the critics don’t forget to remind you whether the movie is for the classes or the masses. The divide has been so deeply ingrained in our genes, our existence that we keep reinforcing it without conscious knowledge.

Regional breakup started in late 90s, and is fast becoming a political trend for all the parties, newbies or experienced, to gain vote banks. Ironically, our naive nation of 1 billion fails to understand once again, that they are considered nothing but vote banks by the politicians. Uttaranchal, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh are some unforgettable gifts our brilliant politicians have given us in last 60 years. And now Kashmir, Telangana and some of the North-Eastern states are already ptiching in for an independent status. I am sure that we will soon be a country with 1200 states, and we will need special permissions to travel from one state to another, whether it is tourism, education, job or property we are seeking. Be assured that poeple who are dividing us in order to rule are simply inept in ruling. They wil just divide, divide and divide us further until nothing is left to rule.

Coming back to the interdependence that I had talked about in the begining, as the cause for a sour relationship to survive tests of time. Now what exactly was I trying to state and how is all this rambling in between related to that. The answer is simple. Our nation lives on Hope. Pure and unadulterated hope that things will be better tomorrow and that somebody will do something to make things better. Like Gandhi and Nehru once promised, like Indira and Rajiv tried to demonstrate (and failed, uh! that we don’t like to remember, do we?) and like Vajpayee tried to establish but was too old to take it all the way to the finish line. We are a nation with hope but no plan of action. No alternatives of our own. No second choice. No plan B.

We don’t need a religiously homogeneous state to become a developed and progressive Nation. We don’t need an icon who sways us off our feet on false promises. We don’t need somebody to say that things will be alright. What we need is faith in ourselves and desire to be accountable for our Nation’s future. We need to ask questions, sound and intelligent questions, and shouldn’t rest until we find our answers. We need to challenge the unknown territories and explore possibilities for moving ahead. We need to stop believing in humans that want to be our Gods. We need to be our own Gods and grant wishes to ourselves. We should promise each other and ourselves that we will not sit down and rest until we have changed the destiny of this nation with our own hands. We will work hard and work without appreciation or reward if that is what it takes to build a developed nation. We will focus on issues that affect the future of our children. We will establish a safe and secure country, where every crime and criminal is brought to justice. We will be honest in our efforts and stand guard to the pride of our nation. We will not just die for our country, but die hard to make it shine, like it used to once.

My fellows country men, for once stop asking “What the country, or the politicians, or the parents, or the neighbours can do for you?” Ask, “what you can do for all of them?”

Do we want religiously homogeneous Nations around the world?

I just now read my post that I have written as a dialogue with myself, and I am so disturbed to realize that there is an unequivocal communal streak in the tone of my voice in that post. I am sure I was very angry while writing that stuff, but I am surprised that I could have been so angered as to lose the perspective I have maintained for most of my life. Thanks to our politicians and their vile, to have created again a situation in our country that made people of two major religious persuasions to be at each others’ necks with the loggerheads. I had almost fallen prey to this malicious political propaganda. Thank God that I didn’t get carried away!

I am a secular! Yes. I don’t mind living with a mix of people, following different sets of religious persuasions and living by their own standards, practices and customs.

However, what I am extremely against is the disregard towards a Nation’s policies and laws. The lack of respect towards the integrity of a country, in the current age of cut throat professional (economic) competition, by the citizens of that country. I recently visited Malaysia and Singapore, both of which regard themselves as Muslim countries. The infrastructure, civic sense and development in these two countries are amazing, given the fact that they are both at least 10 years younger than India (in terms of attaining political independence.)

Now, how can I say that it is a certain religion that comes in the way of development of a Society or a Nation as a whole. That is certainly not the case! These two countries are not only with the largest Muslim proportions in South East Asia, even the cultural and social system (based on whatever I could observe as a tourist) is not as communal or racial as I would have expected it to be (having lived most of my life in India and having been taught to look at the other religious practices only from the corner of my eye, as if they were ready to convert or kill me if I dared to look at them wholeheartedly or if I looked at them and decided to be indifferent.) With more than 70%, 80% or 90% people belonging to the same religion that the whole world is criticizing for encouraging world wide terrorism, these two Nations have come a long way in terms of growth and development. And I heard the natives say more than once (of course I had provoked such a reaction) “We are not racial!”, as an indication that they didn’t subscribe to the much promoted Jihad that militant groups like LeT and Taliban are endorsing.

Masjid on the way to Mutiara Burau Bay Resort

So, what makes people in these countries focus and work towards the growth and development aspects of their Nation. Why would they not spit all over the road as symbol of freedom in a democratic country? You can often hear the cabbies say, “It’s a free country.” What makes them so proud of it and honor the traffic regulations, lane driving and cleanliness requirements of the city life.

Why can’t we, the Indians, have equally clean roads, and by-lanes that don’t stink of urine and human faeces? Why can’t we follow the lane discipline or honor a pedestrians’ right to cross the road, without the fear of being run over? Why can’t we expect our children to walk through the market unattended and return home safe and sound?

It is not that there is no crime in these two countries, of course there is. I recall hearing the Crime Prevention Beureau commercials, requesting the citizens to be attentive and fight crime by following security guidelines. However, a normal family in such countries spends more time planning a picnic to the tourists spots than worrying about the queue for public facilities at the tourist spots that are either hardly usable or way too outnumbered.

A village house in Langkawi
One might say that it is because the people (the majority being that of Muslims) of these two countries don’t feel any threats to their religion and hence have no insecurities. And only because they are safe and secure, they tend to focus more towards the development of the Nation.

I have major objections to such frog-in-the-well mentality. Indian sub-continent has nations that are mostly homogeneous in terms of religious mix of people. Yet, they haven’t managed to follow the growth path as phenomenally as Malaysia and Singapore have. Tourism is widely popular means of earning a living in these two countries and citizens take all the care in maintaining the cleanliness, infrastructure, public transport and other lifelines of a country rather than mutilating them by over use or misuse.

Why then is it so hard for a Nation that so proudly carries a heritage of more than 5 millenniums?

To be continued…