A nation of 1.3 billion citizens is seething red with anger, mistrust and social-cum-political unrest of seriously alarming proportions. There exists a complete vacuum of knowledgeable understanding and informed awareness on a plethora of issues of critical importance. Innumerable debates and discussions in print, TV and social media platforms has further compounded the problem of creating more misunderstanding on issues which have shown the disastrous potential to tear apart the unity and solidarity of the nation.
What is happening in today’s ‘New India’ cannot be dubbed as positive, progressive and prosperous by any means or measures. Millions of Indian citizens are on the roads protesting against the provisions of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Population Register (NPR) and the recent spate of violent incidents in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has added fire to the cauldron of repressed anger and sentiments of the protestors. This has transformed the entire country into a kind of virtual war-zone wherein all sorts of abuses and counter-abuses are being hurled at each other across all sides of the political spectrum with a daredevilry display of impunity.
What is going to be the outcome of such a bleak scenario where the rational voices of real affected people is not being accorded due importance, but unnecessary media coverage is regularly provided to the rhetorical voices of opportunism and political vested interests? Through this article, I will not discuss the merits or demerits of the CAA, NPR etc.; these are already in the public domain to debate, discuss and analyse. Instead, what I would like to talk about here is the factual existence of certain ‘possibilities’ which we underestimate or conveniently discount as per our political agendas of interests.
• It is possible for a citizen to be verbally critical of the government’s policies and programmes and still remain fully patriotic in the same breath and not affiliated to any opposite political party’s membership. Even bluntly criticizing the actions of the government or its machinery or its institutions does not warrant the usage of hurling invectives like ‘anti-national’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘urban-naxals’ for the protestors who, as citizens, have the democratic right in the world’s largest democracy to express their views without any fear or favour.
Pressing of sedition charges or threatening to book the protestors under the harsh provisions of the sedition law, just for speaking out their minds through non-violent, peaceful demonstrations, smacks of crafty ingenuity, hypocrisy and intolerant attitude on the part of the government to snub and silence its critics with an iron fist clenched in power of politics and egoism. The government is thought to be the true representative of the aspirations of the people and it must not turn a blind eye to their grievances if it wants to be seen as pro-people and welfare oriented. After all, peaceful and rational dissent is an important ingredient for the success of a democracy. The slogan of ‘Sabka Saath- Sabka Vikas’ needs to be implemented in letter and spirit to gain the confidence of the masses who have become disillusioned and enraged with the policies and behavior of the government.
• It is possible for a Muslim citizen to criticize the government without having a soft side for or affectionate affiliation with Pakistan. The role played by the Muslim freedom fighters in India’s independence struggle is as important and praiseworthy as any other leader of other faiths or religions during that time-period. Apart from it, India’s Constitution makes it amply clear that our nation has been founded on the premises of a secular state and therefore, targeting any citizen on the basis of their religion and asking them to go to Pakistan does not spell good for the idea of preserving the eternal spirit of ‘Unity in Diversity’.
We cannot hope to strengthen the solidarity and integrity of our nation by castigating, condemning and isolating one religious community from the national space. Politics of hatred, narrow-mindedness and extremism does not augur well for the ‘New India’ of 21st century.
• It is possible for the students of the nation to genuinely worry about the latest crisis affecting their society and at the same time, not be affiliated to any political organization. The students who are studying in the various universities across India are the future of our nation and we need to duly respect and give adequate space to their views and thoughts in developing our future policies and programmes.
The ‘New India’ cannot afford to convert the nurseries of education into corridors of violence, bloodshed and power struggle. It is a matter of fact that a nation which suppresses the rational voices of its students can never expect to reach the zenith of progress and prosperity in world affairs. The students should rather be motivated to be critical thinkers and not just passive information seekers in today’s global information era.
• It is possible for the government to redirect its energies and efforts towards resolving the real issues. Prioritization of tasks is the need of the hour. The government needs to focus its resources on tackling the problems of rising unemployment, gross impoverishment, rapid unplanned urbanisation, growing homelessness and removing the sharp increase in the income inequalities between the haves versus have-nots.
The economy is already facing a grave crisis, the health services are proving to be costlier for the common man, the educational sector needs an urgent financial boost, the farmers are dying every day, the agriculture sector is dying an inevitable death due to global warming and climate change and the crimes against the women and children are rising like never before. These are the actual serious issues which require the government’s urgent attention before other areas like the CAA and NPR etc. can be explored. It is possible to implement policies through widespread national consensus rather than take the confrontational route of myopic political short-sightedness.
• Finally, it is possible to resolve issues through fruitful debates, discussions and discourses. It is possible to uphold and maintain the highest standards of ethics and morality in public life and maintain the sanctity of parliament. It is possible to respect your opponents and value their contributions towards the shared goal of nation-building. It is possible to be respectful towards those whom you do not admire, rather than spewing venom against them through proxy cyber warriors on social media.
It is actually possible to usher in peace and not be a victim or supporter of violence of any kind. It is possible to build cooperation rather than indulge in conflicts. Above all, it is really possible to open our hearts and minds and discover the true potential of realizing the scope of success of the innumerable possibilities discussed above. The only prerequisite is the necessary political will and statesmanship to understand and recognise that the welfare of the nation and its people should always come first – today and forever. Jai Hind.
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