I had initially planned to write just about my PhD related stuff on this blog. However, the sheer ridiculousness of the stuff I see on facebook and in the news these days has lead me to write this post. It’s actually about a few random, somewhat unrelated news articles and posts I’ve been seeing that scare me actually. I’ll start off from the most recent and work backwards from it.
Rehabilitate Pakistani Hindus: BJP (http://bit.ly/PQWIWR)
This came on the Times of India on Aug 13th. I’m all for helping refugees in whatever we can. What bothered me more was the emphasis on hindus and the comments below the article, many of which had more than a dozen likes/ recommendations. Most of the commentors actually want India to provide dual citizenship to Hindus all over the world like Israel does for the jews and send all muslims away to Pakistan or Bangladesh “as it was meant to be”. Or if they aren’t going to go away, they want muslims to sit silently like a good minority should. In case this needs explanation, this scares me because what we have here is a bunch of people educated in english and capable of reading newspapers who have this image that not only is India a hindu nation, but muslims are foreigners and not a part of this country. We have the third largest Muslim population in the world. You know what scares me more? That this isn’t just a bunch of random fools with access to a computer. The second largest national party in India practically thinks along these lines. Which brings me to the next thing that irritates me.
The NaMo brigade
For those not in the know, that refers to the people who want Narendra Modi to be the next PM of India. Now, let me get this clear, I am extremely impressed with the work that Modi has done in developing Gujarat and I do believe he is a much more capable administrator that Manmohan Singh and (God Forbid.. ) Rahul Gandhi. And India might well be better of with him in power than another term for this astoundingly inept Government of ours. What scares me is not him per se; but his followers. For the following reasons:
- Modi’s recently been trying to paint a picture of being more secular and inclusive of muslims. And his followers and others in his party find this reason enough to stop believing in him. Get this, we have a large chunk of people who are pissed of that a prime ministerial candidate is trying to care (or at least show that he cares) about another community!
- I don’t claim to know whether he orchestrated the Godhra riots and that isn’t my major issue. There have been cartoons going around about how people seem to ignore all the good that he has done because of one incident. What scares me about this cartoon is the thought behind it. His supporters aren’t saying that he didn’t do it. Had this been the case, I would definitely not have been so scared. They are actually saying that even if he did do it, look at all the good he did. This scares me because if he did do it, it shows what he is capable of. And by showing that they are capable of forgiving such an act, his supporters reveal a very scary side of India. *
- Somewhat related to the previous point. There is a large chunk of people apparently who don’t even believe the “even if” scenario, they believe that he did do it and are happy about it! Apparently there used to be riots every few months or years but since the Godhra riots the Muslims have been scared and quiet and there have been no riots. This is apparently good. So much for Tagore’s dream of living in a country “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high”
Talking about living without fear and holding your head high brings me to my next topic for this post: the way women are treated in India.
The condition of women in India has been highlighted a lot over the last few months by different parties: Aamir Khan’s excellent Satyamev Jayate brought up some of the gravest issues facing women in India; Tehelka brought to light the alarming apathy of the Indian Police to women in India; and there have been various articles across different blogs, newspapers, websites about the problems facing women in India (including a scathing article in the Guardian and a report that ranked India the worst country to be a woman in). But despite all this, it’s when I see some of the things my friends on facebook post and reactions to it that I start wondering how screwed up things really are. Some examples:
Case 1 : Pictures of girls standing in line to buy alcohol: There were two of these and dozens of likes and comments mostly along the lines of how our so-called “culture” is degrading. Most of these comments, shares and posts are by guys who themselves drink themselves stupid every chance they get.
Case 2: (1.2 maybe considering how related it is to the previous one) Pictures of some girls smoking with a detailed post on how “westernisation” has now destroyed “Indian culture”: I think smoking is a disgusting habit. But girls have as much right to smoke as a guy. Another thing about this that I hate is this idea of “western culture” that India is obsessed with. The less said about it the better. All I have to say is that, I think India’s a better place because there are girls who’re not scared of smoking because they are girls.
Case 3: Gehna Vashisht and the bikini controversy: If you didn’t know, this female did a photo shoot wearing an Indian flag coloured bikini. An idiotic thing to do and done solely to raise a controversy and get some publicity I think. Some “social activists” reacted by throwing stones at her and getting her beaten up. As wrong as what these hooligans did was, that is also not what I have an issue with. Following this incident, posts appeared on facebook from some of my “friends” about what good, patriotic citizens these hooligans were beating up someone who had insulted the nations honour. What’s more, you had to like it if you wanted to beat her with a shoe, share if you want her beaten with broomstick and comment if you want her shot. I’d rather not go into how many likes, comments and shares there were. Why was this even worth sharing?? There are so many other issues in society to get angry about and this is what works these people up? Brilliant.
These are people who went to the same schools as me. In my naive mind they weren’t supposed to be the problem. The problem was supposed to be in some other corner of India, in uneducated villages and in the older, more traditional generation. When such opinions and thoughts seem to be so widespread in the youth of today, it just hurts.
* For those who want to bring up the Assam riots and Sikh riots and Rajiv Gandhi’s comments as points against the Congress. Two things: Firstly, the assam riots were a case of incompetence and not malice. I can live with incompetence. I’m scared of malice. Secondly, I’m not a congress supporter either. They were very wrong in doing what they did but at least they finally apologised for it.
Anyway, it’s going to be the 65th anniversary of India’s independence soon and anyone who’s actually been reading this post till now might find it interesting to read the dream with which India awoke to life and freedom 50 years back: Nehru’s speech.