By Anirban Choudhury
To some, it might appear that the country is through another Civil Disobedience movement. And there’s an uncanny similarity too – while the first one was led by a noble soul from Gujarat 86 years ago, this time round another Gujarati has given enough ammo to the disenchanted to close in ranks and raise their banner of dissent. And Right, Left and Centre, everyone seems to be at their rancorous best, everyone at everyone’s throat – sending missives to Prime Minister seeking answers/apologies, raising “azadi” slogans in seats of higher learning, calling people mes, political mudslinging, threats and counter-threats, accusation and counter-accusations, news channels acting as rabble-rousers, opinioted pieces replacing news headlines, the accused crying victim, etc, etc. And in the din, the voice of sanity has been lost.
In fact, it has been a total chaos – at least in the tiol consciousness – ever since the current dispensation came to power in May 2014. While initially, it was an expression of sheer disbelief on the part of those who monopolised and bestowed upon themselves the sole right to hold the reins of this country and so least expected Modi Inc to ride to power (even though the writing was clear on the wall), it has subsequently degenerated into a never-ending tale of sheer political acrimony, tending to become now more a theatre of the absurd, if not much ado about nothing.
While yours truly holds no brief for the current dispensation (as it too has to come clean on a number of contentious issues), it is also to be borne in mind by the disenchanted, especially the Left-leaning intellectual community and the “secular liberals”, that the country had weathered numerous storms in its chequered and eventful history as a 69-year-old modern tion. It was ravaged by invasions, hunger, poverty, misrule, corruption, gagging and brutal crackdown on dissidents, subverting of constitution and democratic institutions, caste and commul strife, mass massacres and what not. Against such a background, it’s perhaps ive (if not preposterous) to suggest that the country has suddenly gone to the dogs only in the last two years, as if casteism, commulism, parochialism, racism, etc had never existed in our society.
Film director Anurag Kashyap’s open letter to Prime Minister rendra Modi seeking apology for the latter’s Pakistan trip or Arvind Kejriwal making a hullabaloo over Modi’s qualification recently or the political slugfest over “surgical strikes” by India across the Line of Control, etc, are reminiscent of a trend – how pathological hatred for a particular dispensation ignites passions across the board among a privileged section that borders on the bizarre. In fact, it has now become almost a fashion among this privileged section to proudly wear the badge of dissidence against the government.
But the wise men ought to know that India is not some ba republic or an authoritarian regime where PMO takes call on every issue. It’s a functiol democracy with institutions that operate within well-defined boundaries, though at times it may all appear chaotic. And no change of governments can undo this feature – though attempts were made 41 years ago through Emergency proclamation to fetter the institutions and people’s voices, but the masses had the last laugh and ensured that the move failed.
Of course, no one takes away the current incumbent’s obligation towards the countrymen, but to squarely blame the PMO for every ill plaguing the country or hold it responsible even on issues remotely linked to its key responsibility areas appear far-fetched. And by so doing, the detractors of the current regime are only harming their own cause. By properly failing to judge the mood of the people and taking outlandish positions, even on issues of tiol interest – the bitter acrimony over “surgical strikes” in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir being a prime example – they are perhaps doing hara-kiri.
Right to dissent ain’t fundamental or absolute. Also, right to free speech doesn’t imply that anyone can say anything, but feel outraged when somebody says back something.
If only this very class of people (remember class is permanent) had raised questions during the Emergency imposed by a headstrong daughter of an equally idealistic-but-impractical father that let the Chinese in across the Mac Mahon Line, or during the scam-tainted regimes of the past or to those whose hands were soaked in blood of thousands of innocents due to commul, caste and other social strife, the current regime would not have been able to make the cut at all.
Actually, the country never had it so good – an emerging economy, a key player in the realm of science and technology, a vast pool of rich human resources, a youthful population, etc. Fact is, after decades the world is now looking up to India as a harbinger of a new era of growth that accommodates the new and the old, combines modernity with tradition. India’s rich heritage and her contribution to the global community are now being acknowledged. There has been an overall change in the perception of India – from a Third World country that prided itself in parading poverty by trying to rally other tions of the league to one now that epitomises power and commands respect. So in place of M, the country now hosts BRICS summit, proudly stands shoulder to shoulder with G20 tions and given entry to elite groupings like the MTCR. There’s also SA collaborating with ISRO in the realm of space, among others. But the boisterous crowd would have none of it as they are out of public favour.
Of course, this transformation hasn’t been overnight and has taken years of toil. But if the earlier regimes helped lay a solid foundation for the country’s trajectory, the current dispensation has guided it home safely through some mid-course corrections and ensuring that it doesn’t veer off course. Hence, countrymen needn’t feel dejected by wrangling within and look at the larger picture – the Centre still holds (to misquote WB Yeats’ famous line from The Second Coming).