Nine words to perfidy

Goons to the left goons to the right circus in between no governance in sight
Voices Opinion Wednesday, March 01, 2017 - 08:32

Soldiers are the world’s bravest people. When they sign up to take a bullet, it means exactly that, and death walks with them at every waking and sleeping moment. Which is why, I find this patriotism-nationalism-martyrdom brouhaha rather ridiculous. For me, it is false and perfidious. Duplicitous, double-dealing, dishonest, two-faced and breach of trust are some of the other ways to put it.

Nine words the young lady wrote, ‘Pakistan did not kill my dad, war killed him,’ as part of a longer piece on her feelings towards her country a long time ago is the latest circus in town. She wrote about her father who was killed in action and how she sees India’s future. The nine words have fluffed out more about India’s limited views, suggesting people need to get a life.

More seriously, it points to an immature conversation in a 70-year-old country that is frozen in adolescence. It is a crutch to back this especially pronounced dash to ‘belong’ – to an ideology, to people, to trends, to the flash-in-the-pan-fame without having worked for it. Here's the drift. I know the sister of the cousin of the brother of that famous person because my neighbour went to school with her. In other words, we bought vegetables in the same locality so that gives me the right to hold a view. I must be heard. Now. Do you know who I am? My great grandfather was a freedom fighter.

If you are not idealistic when you are young, when are you expected to nurture a questioning mind? If at 20, a young lady in Delhi university says she wants peace, not war, why is that a problem? If politicians say she is young and impressionable, and has been influenced by the Left, so what? There are others, equally young, who are influenced by the Right. So what? This is the future of India. My personal view is that India’s Left is a rag-tag fossilised comedy central of gauche caviar, that travels business class, keeps dogs in air-conditioned kennels while calling for total revolution.  At 20, I held other views. My reading was such that respect and fair play were par for the course. As I grew older and reported from capitals around the world, I realised that Indians are India’s worst enemies. But that is democracy too. No one in the world is less wise for inviting spirited debate. Those who are, are most likely people who are uncomfortable in their shoes, projecting their insecurities and angularities onto others.  

India is a kakistrocracy, which is why the rush to the gutter seems a small trip. Student unrest – whether it be the recent one at Ramjas College (Delhi University) or the earlier one at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), is a law and order issue when it spills over to violence. It has been mishandled by the government once again, missing the forest for the trees. That is because we shun intelligent opposition and shoot from old trenches which are no longer relevant.

You may be the abandoned child of an alcoholic father and a single mother, and go on to win the Nobel Prize. You can be an orphan growing up in the world’s mean streets and shake up the scientific, art, literary or other worlds by your brilliance. Our peculiarity and greed to inherit address-books and invitations results in many of us hanging on to birth privileges as a right. How can s/he from such a grand family do this. Really? Look around, especially at dynasties that run India. Some 40 million people died in the second world war in Europe. Their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren did not use martyrdom to personal use. They put collective suffering and tragedy aside to build nations. The student protests that raged across Europe (remember Danny the red in France) in the late sixties had little in common with what happened in Europe in the forties. 

If the grammar of change does not embrace change, it is false and hypocritical. Universities is where change is palpable. Student politics is as much a part of university life as books and professors, relationships, cultural festivals and debates are. Some people are comfortable with all, others with a few and yet others with none. So what? It is their choice. This is where proportionality kicks in. Personally, I found the ton of bricks landing on the 20-year-old rather heavy. People older and more experienced picked on an easy target when they should have moved from person to people about the issue. Brainless and careless is a deadly combination. Ramjas vs JNU is a false platform. 

Note: Views expressed by the author are her own. 

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