Why can’t we Indians raise pertinent questions? Why can’t we Indians raise our voice? Why can’t we Indians dissent or rebel? Why can’t we Indians take on the political mafia? Why can’t we Indians counter the divisive strategies? Why can’t we Indians expose the hawks and the hate machinery they control?
It is distressing to see the tragedies getting compounded in our country. Though an average Indian is averse to war and is also aware of the long-lasting disasters and destruction that warfare invariably drags along, yet he is being fed on war cries echoing and re-echoing from television studios and also from the election rallies of the political rulers of the day.
Why are particular television channels whipping up hate sentiments? Why are our views and viewpoints getting controlled by the tyrants of the day? Why are even relevant questions not allowed to be uttered; sabotaged before they can be heard? Why is hate and hatred for the ‘other’ allowed, if not encouraged, to be spread amongst the hapless masses? Why is there an obvious build-up for that deadly communal virus to spread out rather too systematically, under any of the alibis…potent enough for another round of partitioning!
How very helplessly we are seeing the decay spreading out. Today not just human structures but entire institutions are getting ruined, with the political chaos holding sway, gaining ground. Like mute spectators we are witnessing massive upheavals taking place yet can’t cry out, nor boot out the men manning this very hate machinery.
Tell me how can the ordinary citizen of this country vent out his or her dissent to these build ups? Tell me, why should non- violent protestors get targeted and tarnished? Tell me how do I cry out, unleash my growing anguish and disgust? Tell me, where do I go carrying my apprehensions?
Yes, today I want to shriek out that I do not trust the rulers of the day and nor do I trust any of their hollow-worded speeches and fake assurances! Their political games are creating havoc in the country, dragging along deep divisions and absolute anarchy.
Compounding the mess, the fact that there have been instances when even non- violent and law- abiding protestors have been booked for speaking out, even on the basis of morphed videos and images. No critical Facebook posts tolerated by the political who’s who of this country. Are we living in a democracy or in the Raj days!
I’m reminded of Professor Mushirul Hasan’s volume The Avadh Punch: Wit and Humour in Colonial North India ( Niyogi Books) where he writes of the Raj days when Indians could criticise the British rulers only and only through indirect and discreet ways — through cartoons and verses! The take off for the Lucknow published The Avadh Punch was to lampoon the British rulers through ‘safe’ ways and relays… Don’t tell me we have reached that phase when the Avadh Punch will have to be revived so that the sane voices can ‘safely’ relay their anger and disgust and hit out at the political rot.
Today, though there’s that mounting anger against the political rulers but where are the forums and platforms to expose their lies and deceit and hoodwinking! The space for dissent is fast shrinking. No, social media is no substitute for public gatherings and protest meets and for those interactive sessions, where painful cries can be heard in the open, loud and clear.
Needless to add that we weren’t always so very spineless! For centuries and decades our forefathers had cultivated the culture to dissent. Quoting from– ‘India Dissents: 3,000 years of Difference, Doubt and Argument’. Published by Speaking Tiger, this volume dwells on the very significance that ought to be given to dissent, “Throughout Indian history, various individuals and groups have questioned, ensured and debated authority — be it the State or empire, religious or political traditions, caste hierarchies, patriarchy or even the idea of god. These dissenting voices have persisted despite all attempts made to silence them. They have inspired revolutions and uprisings, helped preserve individual dignity and freedom, and promoted tolerance and a plurality in thought and lifestyle.” Tucked in this volume are words cum verse cum thoughts of Buddha, Nanak, Gandhi, Tagore, Ghalib, Akka Mahadevi, Lal Ded, Manto, Mahashweta Devi, Jayaprakash Narayan, Amartya Sen and several other enlightened men and women.
Before the mess turns messier its essential to make sure that the right to dissent is placed up there. And also not snatched away is our basic right to cry halt to the ongoing tyranny and the communal divides and disasters being made to take place in our country. Yes, they are being made to take place, so that the political rulers can strengthen and compound their fascist unleash on us.
With tyranny spreading out, one is not too sure who all will be demolished by the political mafia, roaming around scot free. Every single day new alibis are getting churned to hit and hate and lynch the other!
Stifling is the very atmosphere, where only goons and goon brigades and their political masters seem to be holding sway. Crushing the sane voice, crushing all forms of dissent.
I sit worried and apprehensive for my country and for the masses it houses. In this political rot, the disparities and injustices and double-speak are getting just too harsh and hitting. Unbearable it is getting to even survive on par, as lynch mobs are gunning for the ‘other’!
Perhaps, bruised sentiments lie best captured in this verse of Devi Prasad Mishra (translated from Hindi ) tucked in the pages of Kavita 93 (Virgo Publications)
Remains of me/
Here I was born/
On this stone/
On a face like/
My own face/
I put my face and /
Wept for days/
Here I sat holding my head/
And there flowed my blood/
On this part of the earth/
I was threatened to vacate the earth/
And here perhaps
In the neighbourhood of me/
Remains of me.