India is a noisy country. Sometimes the noise gets too ugly and unruly as to make it resembles anarchy at its worst. But, then, democracy is about dissent, and if the majority of the people are given to toeing the line of the establishment or their elected representatives, a democratic system falls prey to precisely the malaises afflicting autocracy. Therefore, dissent is imperative. However, when people are forced to raise their dissenting voices far more frequently for the same cause time and again, and when despite all the just noise nothing embalms the festering wounds, their dissent mutates into anarchy, which is antithetical to democracy. People then get the impression that they are just not heeded because their elected representatives have no concern for them at all, and that these self-styled VVIPs, dressed up as democrats, have only self-interests to perpetuate. Assam today vis-à-vis the blatantly unconstitutional Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 is a case in point.
As we reported on Tuesday, this Bill has now the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) leading from the front yet again in association with 28 other ethnic organizations and eminent people from all walks of life, including the Axam Xahitya Xabha, and taking up cudgels against the proposed legislation. The Bill is a BJP mastermind as it smartens up to expand its base in the State as well as in the rest of the Northeast. The Bill, in Assam’s context, if made a law, would make illegal Hindu Bangladeshis Indian citizens overnight on the grounds that these foreigners were persecuted in Bangladesh and as a Hindu-dominated country India has the ‘moral’ responsibility to give them a red-carpet welcome, no matter what fate befalls the sons of the soil here. This peculiar BJP premise not only militates against the indigenous interests of Assam but has also besmirched the reputation of the saffron party believed to be an outfit honestly and seriously given to the cause of the State’s varied ethnic groups that are being gradually outnumbered by aliens from Bangladesh. And this has gone on to only establish the ruling party as just another outfit out to consolidate its characteristic vote bank at the cost of the originally majority population – the indigenous people of the State. But the fact that such moves as the now-infamous Bill in question are a body blow to the very sustenance of the sons of the soil in their own land of birth, and that these people, long held to ransom by vote-bank politics, are now not going to tolerate any mischief against them, are a clear pointer to the gradual awakening of the indigenous spirit, a spirit whose fuel to keep burning must now come from a united front against all kinds of design playing havoc with the destiny of a people. The AASU-led front is a reassuring case in point then.
A word of caution though: It is easier to propagate theories of one being reduced to a minority in his own land of birth, and to hold seminars, conferences and rallies, but it is far tougher, requiring solid resolve and grit, as well as tenacity of purpose and selflessness in the service of his land of birth, to sustain a movement and take it to its logical conclusion. The best help, in such situations, has always come from an awakened and fearless civil society activism, so flawless in actions that results of the kind anticipated naturally come in. It is a possibility in Assam too, provided there is right resolve and action.