Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Not an 'achha din'

A journalist is heckled for expressing a view found unpalatable by some.  Push comes to shove, literally, in an undignified manner.

Not much value can be found in a ‘he-said-she-said-he-did-she-did’ exercise.

So then, let’s look at the larger picture.  

For a moment, let’s completely accept that Rajdeep is a ‘khan-gressi stooge’, and was ‘insulting the country’ outside India. Let’s take it that he has always ‘insulted’ the prime minister, and had an ax to grind. On top of that, let us put the icing on the cake: he is ‘paid media’.  All accepted, and then some, for a minute. Sure.

Having said that, do we allow us to forget that all said and done, he does his ‘stuff’ with his words? Do we also allow ourselves to forget that unlike a few other anchors on television, he almost invariably, gives the other person a chance to speak through, and importantly, a chance to disagree with him?  Do we forget that in a free world, it is the survival of the fittest tv channels, and we are all blessed with remote controls in search of an alternative truth?

Is Rajdeep really then, the point?

The important thing is what gives the chest-thumping self-righteous warriors of ‘achhe din’ the right to heckle him, abuse him? What gives someone even the right to say ‘he had it coming’?

How did educated and reasonable people end up becoming so blind to the fundamental building block of a democracy: that as they are entitled to their views, so are others to theirs? Even contrarian and ‘khan-gressi’ and ‘sickular’ views, if that may be?

Our prime minister seems to be doing a good job in his new role, and if he ends up achieving a quarter of what he seems to plan, this country will be better off. Of that, there can be not much doubt.  But that said, is Mr. Modi, God incarnate, and totally beyond criticism? Come to think of it, is God Himself beyond criticism?

In fact, one of the erm..criticism that I have of Mr. Modi is that he himself has spawned this entire horde of chest-thumping, intolerant class of ‘bhakts’ by numerous small, but insidious thoughts.  Do we remember the amazing ‘Congress mukt bharat’ slogan?  The one which equated a opponent political party, to an evil and a disease? No Sir, none of the measured:  ‘Vote against congress/ bring me to power’; but a ruthless ‘eliminate the congress disease from this country’. Is it any wonder then with that 'tone from the top', the bhakts also speak the same language? That the bhakts are totally convinced convinced that any contrary view is a symptom of the ‘disease’ diagnosed by their leader, and utterances of blasphemy?

Yes, we all expect great things from the prime minister, and it is possible, probable even, that he may end up significantly impacting the country positively. There is an undoubted sense of optimism around that ‘achhe din’ will come.   It is entirely true that most of this country looks forward in hope.

But that said, if we give up logical argument and measured thought in seeking to express our disagreements, and seek to stifle or threaten the contrary voice, how boring will that be? 

How sad will that be, for this great democracy?  What can be remotely ‘accha’ about it when one is mortally scared to even entertain a differing viewpoint?

The Prime Minister reportedly reached out to Rajdeep through an intermediary, expressing regret. I hope he recognizes the importance of his personally coming out and taking a clear stand for tolerance. I hope he asks his worshiping band of strident bhakts to indulge in some yoga : breathe out the negativity, breathe in peace and positivism. Say Om.  Say ‘I disagree’, when feeling like disagreeing; and nothing more. 

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.