The more sane voices seem to be determined to be on the forefront to denounce violence, trace its roots and offer remedies, the more voices of total insanity, absolutely unwilling to see reason and obdurate about their ucceptable ways and means in a civilized society, seem to even more determined to spread the venom of such violence and wreak havoc on innocent people. One is reminded of the deep anguish that the Pope expressed at the “winds of war” blowing ferociously across the globe in his Christmas message last year. But how many have paid heed to him? The innocent victims of violence of different forms and origins, including, very unfortutely, defenceless women and children, are not responsible at all for whatever grudge and grumble the protagonists of violence have. These violence-mongers are not interested in civilized dialogues even as they are aware of the imperatives of such dialogues and of the solutions to their woes that could come up in due course. They are merely an adamant bunch of violent sadists out to perpetrate terror of varied forms on an innocent humanity while the vast architecture of governce and administration seems helpless and tends to look the other way. We are not talking of any intertiol terror groups here. We are talking of violence – its different cruel shades – as self-styled mainstream actors resort to violence in their whims and fancies ostensibly to promote some cause with some half-baked rrative of some history of suppression and oppression in order to make themselves heard, no matter what the costs are, how many innocents are harassed, maimed and even killed, and whether their means of violence can ever help them accomplish their goals of their dreamy emancipation from the clutches of what they call their eterl oppressors. The recent caste-based violence that hit Maharashtra at the very beginning of the New Year – when people, with new hopes of a fresh beginning, must rather be celebrating the arrival of a new timeframe with huge possibilities of a better world to live in – is a classic case in point. This has huge ramifications across all strata of the Indian society. And it is not merely a sociological sickness. It is a psychological cancer too, spreading gradually but steadily, undoing all that the civilized world has stood for and would stand for.
There's No Second Route
The Maharashtra violence, with the Dalits – no doubt suppressed and exploited by the privileged ones in the upper caste hierarchy – hitting the streets across the State and paralysing life in the country’s fincial capital, Mumbai, is yet again a disconcerting reminder of the deep roots that the meticulously perpetuated culture of violence has helped take shape. Schools, colleges, government and corporate offices, and transportation systems were hit to the hilt. That a city as Mumbai should be so badly paralysed just because the Dalit activists had a grumble to ventilate out in absolutely ucceptable ways did not inform these agitation votaries of how much fincial loss the tion – on its way to becoming a major economic force – would have to bear just because street war had to be a fashioble activism statement, thanks of course to the easily availability of politicians of all hues out to score brownie points and consolidate their pet vote banks by crook. All faculties of reason are thrown to the gutter when one sees an anti-tiol like Umar Khalid, notorious for his ‘breaking India into pieces’ rants last year at a university function in Delhi, espousing the Dalit cause when he has no track record of doing anything at all for any Dalit, when he has in fact nothing to do with any causes except the mirage of aazaadi for Kashmir, and when there are serious doubts as to whether he considers himself an Indian in the first place to advocate any Dalit cause in India. One feels pity for the organizers of the show. How can reason fail them so badly? But, then, should we forget that when there is a culture of violence in its worst manifestation, reason is the first and foremost victim? History is a standing testimony to it.
The pivot of the debate is obviously caste politics and the quota regime that it engenders despite the fact that reservations based on caste have only proved to be regressive, and not progressive in any way that the quota advocates would have us believe. In fact when one is witness to more and more groups – including in Assam where there are at least six communities clamouring for ST status for their advancement in the development ladder – joining the quota bandwagon and taking resort in violence that only serves to cripple normal life and vandalize precious public and private property, the only inference is that the faculty of reason and sense has failed and the destructive culture of violence has overridden everything else. Perhaps no region as large and varied in the country as its Northeast can inform any votary of the creed of violence of the absolute futility of senseless violence in the me of such fashioble coiges as ‘ideology’, ‘historicity’, ‘revolution’ and ‘freedom’ – taken up as bases to wage wars against not just the hard-earned democratic and republican system but also its innocent subjects left at the mercy of the perpetual conflict between state and non-state actors. And to dwell on the other side of the coin, how one can overlook the taint associated with counter-violence operations as stories galore of excesses perpetrated by security forces and extra-judicial killings too!
The fact of the matter is that the country has lost its ancient spiritual vision. The timeless messages of our ancient wisdom works have been expediently forgotten or just trampled over. Even the incredible transformation of Emperor Ashoka as he took refuse in the love-compassion doctrine of Buddhism after the devastation of the Kalinga War has been forgotten and reduced to mere citation in history pages. That is, violence – in all its forms, however senseless and cruel – has become a creed-culture mantra for instant fame at the cost of the very ethos that our civilization stands for. This must be defeated at any cost. For, we must rise as one tion, one people, whatever our other differences may be. Differences will always exist, but unity, love, fellow feeling and peace must remain our greatest success mantra. There is no second route.