Tuesday, May 9, 2017

India and the wars her children wage

Nationhood is very much like parenthood with the disappointment, or happiness, of children choosing their own ways when they grow older. All of us have common historical identity. We all studied in the same schools, learnt the same history, had almost similar cultural influences... we're the same bunch. We practically grew up in the same, albeit, large house. Hers is the typical Indian family with a lot of children. Just like any children who grew up together, we made our adult choices of inclination towards one side. Our own situations compelled us to make our choices with clear conviction, however ridiculous, including the one to stay away from politics completely. 

Like any happy family that accepts its own siblings, despite differences, we ought to do exactly that. Whatever we stand for and fight for apart, we're still one big happy family. Slightly irritating, maybe, but nonetheless. When in a tight spot, we help each other out in brotherly & sisterly love. At home, there ought to be no bones broken or blood shed. At times, the elder ones do the controlling but we all have each other's back, no matter what. 

But then there's the thing of family honour. I'm not talking about the family honour that defines honour killings. There's precisely zero honour in that. I'm talking about when you disrespect your own, especially the one that you grew up with. It doesn't mean you should accept it. It just means that you shouldn't disrespect it. You don't trash what was undeniably home, unless it wasn't made home for you at all. If you do, you don't get murdered. You just get ousted and disowned. You'd still have mother's, brother's and sister's love. They'd still secretly leave food out for you. But they will stop if you still attack them from the outside. They may even retaliate proactively and attack in defense. 

This is the setting of fair game that politics ought to be. Our political choices or non-choices are always primarily personal. They have a personal backstory that comes with a lot of attachment, which is our primary decision-driving factor with them. Our choices don't make us traitors as long as we make our choices from the same identity base: we're all from this land that we know as home, and we have different ideas of how things should be. Our views should be allowed basis the fact that this is our home. 

Democracy gives us that space: to dissent as a right if we choose to practice it. What's possible and pragmatic from our views is a different discussion. We have power to change things in democratic process, through voting, expression and active participation. We shouldn't be disallowed that, if our ideas differ, unless we're causing collateral damage. The laxman rekha starts where you are against the idea of India itself, its healthy history (and evolution), and want it to be anything but that. It doesn't start from when you are anti-successive governments for their people oppression or when you don't hold the view that we have the best soil in the world (and therefore a superior everything). 

Lately though, politics has become the worst ever replacement for humanity as a standard. It has embraced that very best soil argument. It defines you like being a Planet Earth human used to. The soil you're from makes you less worthy and more deserving of the right to exist even. What you wish and fight for later can make you even more undeserving. You can think otherwise and be damned to oblivion. 

To her obedient children (turned parents), India isn't the progressive parent that believes its children can be different and have the freedom to choose their own path. The obedient sons don't know how to think beyond how they've been brought up and won't allow "dishonour" from the ones with more free minds who are capable of thinking beyond, even if for the better. What recognising and understanding what's beyond your identity makes you aware and enlightened. It also shows you better ways to be. Your history needn't always be right.

We've gone into the politics of right and wrong, where you can only be right or be damned. It's a case of being right or being condemned for being left (because you're not right). What should be essentially an attempt to order the world into a happy, prosperous place where identity is intact becomes a power craze where none of those factors are even considered. The point becomes to win. Identity that was always a non-negotiable trumps administration. Emotion trumps common sense. Passion trumps a sustainable form of society. None of them at wrong. They're all just stemmed in a false sense of insecurity that some people will lose their identity if they don't keep it. Instead of keeping it, we're fighting for and bullying people with it because, you know, we are, and have, the best. The absolute best. Nothing else deserves any credit, right of existence be or thriving. Even if you're not Indian, or not taking about India, or even if you're an alien from Mars.

Some of her children though have taken an easier route: apathy. Understandable, but it doesn't help. They couldn't be more wrong. While it's easier to be ignorant, every sworn apolitical's set of privileges are defined, permitted and allowed directly by the very politics they shun and avoid. An apathetic stance is as detrimental to a country as is an overzealous one. If you want to ensure your freedoms and rights, you've got to at least think while you vote and check and ensure the citizen privileges you're granted.

That being said, all political views are always personal. You always have more than logical reasons to stand by your choice. It has to do with how you grew up and the variety that you have seen. There isn't a supposed-to-be about it; no right, no wrong, just who it hurts, benefits and whether it actually helps. It's always people, and not politics. Politics should be helpful by product.

We will only realise this if we care to look beyond our views into what we actually believe. We usually stick with those views because that's our primary identity, and we know that primary identity always trumps common sense in practice (at least for most of us). Despite differences, we should be able to stick to our views and not hurt each other. When it's about people, everyone gets their space. 

So there's no need to fight at all. Hopefully, this big fat, Indian family stays one, and sense prevails.