My use of the helping verb ‘may’ is deliberate because it only denotes one possibility. India may go from bad to worse. It is only observation of trends and facts which makes it possible that in coming years, India may deteriorate.
Indians are gullible in the face of media onslaught. Free and fair media is an oxymoron in itself. All over the world, we see how media takes undue advantage of its prime position as the ‘influencer’ of minds and pushes its own agenda, often based on monetary considerations. Indian media is no exception. There’s no reportage without later claims of ‘false’ or ‘true’. Canard is spread through media and later reports emerge that the reports were false. Many times there’s no correction. JNU videos, meat in Ikhlaq’s fridge, or Kairana exodus - we just don’t know the truth. Apart from facts, the various nuances, the learned ‘art’ of tone, stress, screen time, negative advertizing etc. make a pulp out of the public mind.
What started as an awareness tool in history is now a tool for blinding people with misinformation. ‘Mind making’ is the new mantra of media. There is nothing like ‘self-less’ in today’s world. Everyone will make the most out of the position s/he occupies. Twisting has gone into the nature of things.
The famous quote of John Adam says,
‘Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.’
When John Adam accepted a seat in the House of Representatives, he warned people to make up their mind for ruin; ruin of generations.
Democracy has falsely acquired the status of the divine now. Logically, it has proved to be a way of governing people. But to stop questioning the ways of democracy, to stop scrutinizing its various trends would be suicidal indeed.
Indian democracy has degenerated into a method of division, appeasement, populism and show-off. The tragedy of India today is that everyone is either pro BJP or pro Cong or pro AAP and so on and so forth. No one is pro India. There is no supporter of India. People support their idea of India; not India itself. People support ways of a particular politician to improve India; no one wants to really improve India.
Democracy has bitterly divided India. Majority card, minority card, SC/ST card- people keep playing cards. One is struck with total shock and sorrow to see how reservation has divided castes in India.
The moment I say this, I am further doomed into my own caste; into a general category caste which does not get reservation. No one will believe if I say I am not casteist or I try to rise above caste or I am for equal opportunities for all. The whole cancer of caste has been cunningly reduced to reservation by this wretched democracy.
I am not against democracy, by the way. I am for improvement in democracy. To come back to caste, the whole matter has been trivialized. Matters of centuries of humiliation, religion, land ownership, dignity, food and marriage practices- everything has been burnt into reservation. Only 3 or 4 % of SC/ST people avail reservation. The rest are busy in traditional or related jobs. The nuances of reservation cannot be discussed. The vote-bank politics has criminalized even mention of changes in the reservation policy. Demography is God. The reserved castes desperately cling to their caste even if there is no reason to do so.
Murder of merit, the cruelty of repeated reservations… No political party, none of our ‘rulers’ are ready even to talk about it. A child gets scholarship in school, grows up and gets reservation in college, in job, in promotions. What is this? A junior, often less capable, becomes the boss of the very same person under whom he started his job. What will be the atmosphere of an office where seniors are forced to work under their junior? What productive work, what social service, what good will come out of such deeply divided places where a human being is not a human being but a ‘baniya’ or a ‘chamar’.
The Supreme Court of India has talked about suppression of merit and complex mentality in the current reservation policy in promotions. Is it a crime to draw attention to aggravated corruption in ST/SC employees and officers if the data says so? You have an SC/ST employee who does not turn up on time, does not work and you cannot complain because he will falsely implicate you in stringent Act. You go to an Indian office and your Indian heart will bleed at the hatred castes nurture for each other. Why can’t we logically analyze these issues and solve them?
Ambedkar suggested reservation for ten years; our degenerated, failed democracy has eternalized it. Merit has become a crime. Mediocrity rules us. We as a system crush and mock merit and effort. We promote alms. ‘Hame kya mila?’ This is the thinking. ‘What did we get?’ and not ‘What did we achieve or acquire?’ Birth of a child, thread ceremony, marriage of daughters, and finally cremation ceremonies - alms at every stage. We encourage people to bleed in poverty and laziness. To be born in good families, to be educated, hardworking, self-respecting- all these are crimes. You are automatically discriminated against if you are of the general category. Being in a university, I watch young boys and girls. So many Brahmin boys have started keeping ‘shikha’, knot of hair at the back of the head. They proclaim their caste openly and also their allegiance to caste system. You will find so many general category people claiming that a shudra is inferior. Reservation has given renewed energy to caste. Lines are not diminishing.
All I am saying here is that we need honest discussion on reservation policy. One benefit of reservation policy in one life, in one family or some other formula needs to be worked out. This should not go endlessly as it is harming India.
Another major indicator of impending downfall is the level of education. I am one of those who believe in the power of education. Education improves the quality of a human being. Education makes a person look beyond her/himself. Education sensitizes a person to the plight, needs, limitations and perspective of categories other than her/himself. To my mind, rationality is everything.
India’s downfall in the middle ages was due to loss of rigor in pursuit of academics. Knowledge was not questioned. Questioning is important. Religion and tradition need constant questioning in order to stay relevant. Today if we look at the stock of superstitions, we will be horrified. Colors, days, food, clothes, postures, animals, humans - all get tabooed by one superstition or the other. The spirit of empirical inquiry has gone. This sense of dullness can only be cured by education. Many in India believe that all that was worth knowing has already been written in shastras. This has led to our downfall. Knowledge is domination and knowledge is a verb; it is always a work in progress. The stellar, sharp questioning instinct, that un-quenching curiosity, experimentation, passion for the long route, research, standardization- all these things are missing. Our degrees have lost value. Nothing could be worse.
These comments are not only in the context of the present government at the centre. I refuse to be blinded by hate or hero-worship. These trends have been going on for quite some time now. We have an added dimension today - saffronization of education. First of all, I have an objection to stigmatizing colors. Saffron is a lovely color and so is green and blue and red… In any case, if we haphazardly or even in a planned way, remove and add texts in our syllabi at different stages in order to glorify a religion and its followers or demonize a religion and its followers, what good can it bring to our intellect, our understanding of the world. Nothing. From whatever angle we look at it, it is a kind of ‘blinding’.
Knowledge must uncover, open up rather than color or deify or stigmatize. I do not see any use of saffronization except that it garners votes for a certain section. This is exactly why India seems to be degenerating. Everything is done for votes. Social movements have died. We have politicians. We do not have leaders. Where is Hindu reform? Sunk in poverty, superstition, unhygienic habits, Hindus need to come out of their stupor. By shouting salutations to mother India, the quality of Hindus, their thinking will not improve. I say this with the authority of a devout Hindu that the followers of this religion need to improve. They lack scientific spirit, innovation, enterprise and adaptability. This is not true of all Hindus. But this is what is required. The basic postcolonial premise that the colonized lose sense of self-respect is only too boldly visible with Hindus. That momentum for change is lacking. Sometimes, the future looks bleak. In the best Samaritan spirit, we may hope for good things while being prepared for the not so good.