Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Liberal India

Since the time I start understanding India's Politics ( At the age of 14-15 years) I have always formed my opinion on facts. Facts alone. All my writings on blogs and otherwise,even facebook posts and "status updates" based on India's socio-political fabric are facts.

Facts are Res ipsa loquitur for me, they always do the talking. So whatever I am writing here in the next few paragraphs would also be build on facts, nothing else.

Indian Politics is going through a very challenging time. On one hand there is an almost "discredited" Government in the eyes of the media, "counting its days" mired in Realities of Economics, Realities of Coalition Politics, Realities of an Obstructionist Opposition (to say the least), Realities of Anti-Incumbency. and so on. Neverthless, the Government at the centre is Liberal, Democratic and Secular

Yes these 3 terms - Liberal, Democratic and Secular are the soul of India.

In school, I was extremely attracted to these terms, when my Civics teacher used to elaborate each one of them in an extremely interesting way. She used to rather ideally tell us that Liberalism depicts the very soul of India, because of its shear diversity. She said, No two villages in India have identical language, culture, food-habits, rituals and so on. There would be slight variation in either of them, and that's where Liberalism comes into play. On a rather personal note she would share to us how she fought against own to educate her children and send her to bigger towns in order to get education, and now marrying her daughter in a family which shares a different religion (forget caste). Progressive Liberalism is the bedrock of any society. When conservatism and orthodoxy takes over in the form of social norms, that society starts disintegrating.

Democracy, as often repeated in school days - "Is of the people, by the people and for the people". This lesson was taught by her, when we had real elections for something as innane as 'Class Monitor' ( actually important in school days ) Not,only the student was elected as a 'Class Monitor' - he was also held accountable for his tasks by a set of 3 students of watched his work, and were required to get complaints by the class, if any student had any.

One may wonder that these examples of my school is quite naive to make a point on complex concepts such as Liberalism (Liberty and Equality) and Democracy, but I consider it to be my political lesson and the most important one.

Secularism was entrenched in my upbringing, from childhood. We were taught to respect every religion- their customs and their values. It was also to do with the Ganga-Jamuna Tahzeeb of the part of Uttar Pradesh, from which I belong to (Awadh) My ancestral house (still) has a 'Staphit Shivalinga' (Prana Pratishthit) along with the idols of other Gods and Goddesses, and we share our house wall with a Muslim Family- The Khans. On every festival, we exchanged niceties, sweets, delicacies and much more. There was always mutual respect for each and other, and help for each other when either of us were in trouble. I still remember, Mrs. Khan sharing intimate details of her personal life with my mother, and vice versa- family discord- which are a common nature of Indian Joint Familes.

As I see, these in perspective, things have changed - specially in today's context. There is a lot of hate attached to these 3 terms, specially on the internet. Anyone who supports the idea of Liberalism is branded as "Left-Liberal", "Lib- tards","South-Delhi elites", "Stephan-ion" and even "Maoists". Demonizing Liberals has become the favourite time pass on the internet, by our "Urban Middle Class" ( I call them that, because of purely statistical reason- related to their access to the internet in one form or the other). There is a systematic propaganda being run on the internet to tarnish free thinking voices by a section of media, by people who do not believe in the concept of Liberalism as an Idea of India, by a section of the corporates who think, supporting Liberal ideas would harm their business interests. Some of the lot who is disenchanted by the present regime's ideas of Liberalism and Inclusiveness (either for economic or political reasons) have jumped on the bandwagon. Fringe Right Wing Groups, who were sidelined in the greater part of India's Modern Political History ( and rightly so) are running a campaign to establish a Fascist, Authoritarian, Bigoted and a purely Capitalist regime in India.

This takes me to the next idea of Democracy. I have extensively written on this idea, in my previous blogs as an Idea, a Principle which can never be separated from India. This time, Democracy, acquires a whole new meaning, a whole new concept. Democracy is present context should be reinforced to stop Fascism and Authoritarianism. To prevent theocratic ideas to take centre stage, strong Democracy is needed. We need to prove, like never before that - India is not only the Largest Democracy on Planet Earth, but also the most Responsible. We need to defeat those who want to change the basic ethoes and ideas of our Constitution are taking refuge in the system, simply by fighting elections. Any form of Dictatorial regime is dangerous - not just for India, but for the millions who thrive in this diverse sub-continent. Free will, and Freedom to express the opinion cannot be taken away from those who want Fascism to seed in India, but the collective voice of people against such tendencies can definitely defeat them resoundingly.

The most important nature of India - and its ethoes is Secularism. Its been blatantly abused by people from either side for political purposes. Secularism is deeply entrenched in the mindset of India. I say this, not because I simply believe this, I say this because this country has a rich history of Diversity- of gifting many different Religions to the world. Today, people who believe in Secularism are being accused of appeasement and are being called "Sickular" by the right wing brigade. I find this term rather laughable. Because on issues ranging from Minority appeasement, to Uniform Civil Code, from quota to backward Muslims to Ram Temple in Ayodhya, from Article 370 in Kashmir to Bangladeshi Immigrants, from Riots of Gujarat in 2002 to Anti- Sikh Riots in 1984 , from Hindutva Sangh Terror to Imam Bukhari, and innumerable other issues, their stand have been utterly hypocrite. Double standards and Double speak have been the hallmark of their discourse.

This discourse is now getting shriller day by day. Right Wing is spreading its ugly fangs on the internet to make the atmosphere more and more vicious. Goebbles Theory is at work.

Liberals, Democrats and Seculars, it looks, are slowly disappearing- either due to ignorance ( seen in the new awakening in Urban Middle Class India ) or due to lack of political support or political will to counter it staunchly. Left and Centre forces are lagging behind on the internet ( although main stream - they still hold it ) Considering, Social Media - which may influence our future Political Discourse, this is Alarming, to say the least.

We need to rejuvinate, re-inculcate and revive the basic ideas of Liberalism in India. 

"... Let My Country Awake."