Monday, February 9, 2015

RIP, Voice of Reason?



 
 Image courtesy -  www.telegraph.co.uk


Barely had Modi come up with his ambitious program ‘Make in India’ to transform India into a global manufacturing hub, that self-appointed patriotic Indians went into an overdrive to make his dream come true in the shortest possible time. Thanks to their untiring zeal, we are now the largest manufacturer of ‘outrage and intolerance’ (O&I).

I am not suggesting that other nations are free from such predilections. But what sets us apart is our talent to overlook the obvious like the appalling state of security and crumbling infrastructure, but forage for the unusual. Like one fine morning, Khundak Sharma will wake up with a bad case of acidity and decide he doesn’t like Amir Khan’s face in the PK poster and claim his religious sentiments have been hurt. And before he can belch, his outrage has spread like Ebola afflicting thousands who will claim similar symptoms. And who would then bestow on themselves the licence to go out in droves, vandalise public property and create nuisance with utter impunity.

India has a vocal constituency of sentimental citizens who can draw from neat buckets of topics like minority, religion, region, caste, gotras and the ever obliging ‘sanskriti’ so that they are never short of sentiments that can get hurt at any point of ‘time’. A ‘time’ that consults no calendars or astrological charts but comes unannounced like Khundak Jee’s acidity.

The moralistic Indian when hurt will drag girls from pubs for sullying the much venerated image of the adarsh naari, hound a celebrated author so mercilessly in the name of religion that he’s compelled to announce his death as a writer, force one of India’s most gifted artists into exile because someone decided that he insulted our goddess with his depictions. Getting offended comes as naturally to this breed as coughing to Kejriwal. They like to position themselves as guardians of Indian morality and culture, protecting it from corrupt, purportedly western influences. Interestingly, the same heritage they safeguard like a possessive lover, actually advocates expression of unpleasant facts and unpalatable opinions as a means of arriving at the truth. Upanishads, Puranas and epics have asserted that truth itself has many facets and dogmas and doctrinaire rigidities are totally out of place in Indian philosophy. 

But hey, we adopted hypocrisy as a religion that finds it perfectly acceptable to preach with no intention of following it, but will expect others to toe the line or be prepared to face the consequences. So, we have enraged mobs burning books that they haven’t even read or a state government ordering a probe into a celebrity roast because some bloke who was neither at the giving nor the receiving end of it decides it was obscene and files a written complaint. The same state where Shireen Dalvi went into hiding from fringe elements after her publication carried Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons, yet the same government machinery, this time, chose a frosty silence.


It is as if a certain constituency is waging a war against progressive India – an India that questions feudal customs, upholds debate and individual freedom and is broadminded enough to laugh at its own foibles. It’s now a hate campaign against jeans, against women who are not afraid to speak their mind, against thought leaders who make us question our misplaced indignations. From everything that we see, does it not look as if our political class foments this hate campaign against the voice of reason because it suits their vote bank politics?

Why is it so easy for some quarters to damage public property, terrorise and have people jailed for cartoons or social media posts, yet so tough for a woman to file a molestation case? Why is it so easy for some politicians to make statements that demean women, incite hate and provoke people to kill and maim, while it is so difficult for their victims to ever get justice? Why is the outrage of voices of reason and civil society of no consequence!

Isn’t it strange that our elected, who are in dire need of maturity themselves, are so hell bent on labelling progressive Indians as immature who need state supervision! In my opinion, they use this as an excuse to snoop on what we post online, decide the books we should read, movies we should watch, beep out all that ‘they’ consider inappropriate, gagging us with their so called self-righteousness. While fringe groups continue to grow under political insouciance, their outrage getting pandered to, emboldening them to get away with anything.

By making such groups succeed, the leaders we elect are being selective at whose liberty they are safeguarding. Makes us wonder if freedom of expression is the biggest crime of all, in turn causing irreparable damage to our creativity and snatching away a fundamental citizen’s right? How many Perumals do we need before the administrative machinery stops entertaining intolerant Indians who are nothing but parasites out for their two minutes of fame? Parasites who overburden the judiciary and public consciousness with their useless PILs and manufactured indignation?

Do we want to evolve as a nation that uses ‘righteousness’ as a weapon to silence the voice of reason, and that suffocates its people inside a straitjacket of misplaced morality?

Or maybe we can asphyxiate this intolerant breed with our silence, blanking them out from media and social discourse. After all, attention is their oxygen and without it, they’ll die a slow but sure death.

Isn’t it time we treated the intolerant Indian with the intolerance they deserve? 


Also published on Huffington Post, India


39 comments:

  1. The last para is the only solution. These are trolls and if you feed them, they will grow bigger and bolder. But sadly, good people too lose patience and end up wrestling with these pigs in the mud....and these pigs enjoy it.
    We are a strange nation. You can't say anything without offending someone. Pretty sure, you and sez realise that now. :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can say anything you want and people will interpret it to suit their outrage!

      Delete
  2. With misplaced priorities, several India's within India continue to pull each other down. We are becoming more intolerant, more parochial and more self centered. Safeguarding the liberty of citizens is the last thing on the minds of our politicians.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Doesn't help that we have certain vested interests pandering to these fringe groups.

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  3. I don't even know what to say any more, Purba. Basically Indians are intolerant, and they are getting much more mainstream media mileage now than. It emboldens them even more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And it's we who have to bear the brunt with new diktats.

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  4. The post brilliantly brings out everything that is wrong with modern day India. I am sick and tired of this moral policing trying to force their definition of right and wrong to the nation. They have all the freedom of expression in the world to preach ridiculous theories to the junta, but the junta doesn't have a right to respond back with whatever they deem fit. These people, I think are ones who don't have to see a progressive Inida but want the nation to be down in the dumps with stereotypes and everything else they can propose, in the name of so called culture and traditions. Even Sati was one of our traditions, and given a possibility, they might want to start that again too. It has gone to such a level now.

    Hate the custodians of tradition and somehow, because of them, I am starting to feel very strongly about the negative aspects of our so called harmless(for men) Indian culture.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. There's an India that's impatient to move forward and an India doing its best to hold it back.
      I wish we could just pretend that they didn't exist. Unfortunately, it's not that simple.

      Delete
  5. Brilliantly written as usual. I wish I could agree. Here is what I feel. There is no right way or wrong. Sometimes sweeping things under a carpet works and those things die a natural death. But sometimes they take root and grow. Wonder if ignoring these fringe elements will work or make the problem worse

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    1. Ritu, it doesn't help that we are a nation of many opinions that rarely comes together to condemn and ask these religious groups to go to hell!
      Look what they did to AIB.

      Delete
  6. A thought provoking post. I think the day women/artists / cartoonists/comedians start voting en-bloc just like Khaps and other vested groups our Netas will listen to women also. Unfortunately we are all ( both women and men ) nothing more than votes for our law makers. So any group that can ensure some amount of votes is heard and other more relevant topics are conveniently ignored.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are soft targets, too content to bother about these nutcases. But looking at the recent trends, it's time we hit back.

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  7. All i can say is MERA BHARAT MAHAAN ... and the fellow Indians are MORE MAHAAAN

    we are the most hypocrites, the most racist and the most Everything .. pity we are such it is a sad pathetic reality .. no matter what people say or do..


    Bikram's

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Impotent outrage is all we are capable of.

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  8. Controversies and outrages have become the fashion statement for the intolerant Indian. Most do not even know what's happening but will definitely pitch in at the R of religion, C of controversy or S of Sanskriti. All for those two minutes of fame or for the TRP ratings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read this somewhere - If you're willing to kill for religion, start with yourself.

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  9. You know Purba we are a hypocritical bunch.. Actually I don't really know what culture we are talking about... Is it so hard to be tolerant and just let every individual decide for himself or herself as long as we are not being physically harmed... ? Culture, Culture and more culture - what can I say I wish we had no culture...!

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    1. The ones protecting our culture are the most uncultured.

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  10. The problem probably is people have too much time on their hands.So while picking his teeth, Khundhak jee picks chits from lots to decide, which religious sentiment should get hurt today. Isn't it the sad truth that fanatics always made their voice heard above the din, while the liberals are still struggling to even find each other ! Brillian post Purba !

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    1. Agree, we are a nation of the underemployed. Look what happens when there's an accident. A huge crowd converges for the tamasha yet none of them will volunteer help.

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  11. The issues which need to be tackled do not concern them because there,they will have to work,make a difference.This is their chosen way of earning two minutes of fame.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just anybody is free to file a PIL against what they deem as offensive, making sure the pressing issues never get to see the light of the day!

      Delete
  12. Hmmm we need to be intolerant towards the tolerance of intolerance!

    www.numerounity.com
    www.hautekutir.com

    ReplyDelete
  13. A true reflection of sad state of affairs and intolerance which gets fanned by people who feel ' my way or highway' the solution to any probem no mateer how complex! Do'nt see the light at the end of the tunnel in any time too soon!

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    1. My theory is very simple - if I don't like it, I won't watch it. Why weigh yourself and others with useless outrage?

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  14. Intolerance started with non cooperative movement started by Mahatma...
    In my opinion,in today's context ,media is largely responsible...Instead of condemnation,media under political patronage or for slush money paint a picture no other country would allow.
    I know it's difficult,but,try boycott news channels enblock for a given period,see the difference in India in all aspects including intolerance

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    Replies
    1. Intolerance is good as long as it is for bigotry, killing each other using religion as an excuse or assaulting children and women. Unfortunately the loudest voices belong to the narrow minded.

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  15. we adopted hypocrisy as a religion ...... very true.

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  16. amir khan should have distributed pics of mohamed prophet ,jesus too instead of only hindu gods in pk.he should have mohamed prophet and jesus stickers on cheeks too along with lord ram.if you want to indulge in constructive criticism of anything,there should not be bias.pk has shown bias and there is no difference between raju hirani and fringe groups who attacked film.both were not ideal or both were at fault.

    will you agree if someone makes nude portrait of your mother or your wife in the name of art and freedom of expression.art is not about nudity,its about portrayal of your core culture with imagination.if you say indian temples have nude sculptures,then you must also agree that the guy who built these temples was cultureless.

    i don't find much difference between fringe groups and liberals who speak about freedom of expression,both are extremes who lack culture or rationality.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. The problem with us is we take things that do not merit attention too seriously and serious issues casually.

      My philosophy is pretty simple - live and let live.

      Delete
  17. Too much free time - I guess. If they had better occupied minds, they wouldn't spend so much time peering into others' lives, words and actions. We are getting hypocritical & rabid by the day.

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  18. Well said! And yes, I do believe that silence and not giving attention to fringe opinion may be the only way to tone down the cacophony. But it is easier said than done, sadly.
    One could also look at the brighter side of these daily protests. Hey, if there was no one to burn those old DTC buses to vent their anger, how would we even get new ones?? It's almost an act of public service!

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  19. What a wonderful idea! In fact the government should issue advisories on what to burn and install helpful signage that read burn this saaaalon :D

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  20. Rightly said, Purba. Attention is their oxygen and as the aam admi, I think, the least we can do is pay them no heed. That would put them in their rightful places.

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  21. Such hypocrites we have become and cowards who hurt children, women and destroy property. Yes, time for the voice of reason to silence those idiots.

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Psst... let me know what you are thinking.

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