Well… Yeah We Signed Up For Democracy!

October 29, 2013 at 9:15 PMOct (Activism, Friends, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

In the second week of this month (October 2013) I was in Byndoor- my grandparents place- where I met quite a few of my relatives. I was meeting them after a long time. It felt nice till a random evening conversation got into politics: Critique of Janardhan Poojary’s move to have widow priests at the temple, cattle trade, the novel Dundi and obviously NaMo being the “hope” for India.

My aunt- mom’s younger sister- who took care of me during my childhood, in place of my working mother, spoke quite militantly about all of it! I don’t remember a single instance where she has spoken about politics earlier. She, I have always known, as a personification of affection! But there she was angrily speaking and spitting at the ‘enemy’ of tradition, culture, beliefs and the nation! How did the world change so much? I did not have the words to argue with her because I was shocked!

My uncle- my mom’s elder brother- spoke of how bombs must be thrown at Muslims who are into cattle trade. He was serious and said the bomb used to save fields from pigs should be used for it doesn’t kill but ensures that hand and legs will not be in functioning condition after! Nobody there objected. They all seemed to agree with him. My head reeled and the next morning when I saw the photos of cattle traders- license holding- beaten black and blue in Mangalore and their bleeding body, an imaginary scene of these cattle traders being beaten up played in my mind and there I saw my uncle leading the attack!

Byndoor, located in the north part of the Udupi district, is not a big town. But a small town which is growing. Seeing huge hoardings of NaMo where he is being referred to as “Future PM of India” (not just PM candidate) with the slogan “Sambhavaami Yuge Yuge” in a town like Byndoor made me feel NaMo is not just a urban and internet phenomena!

More than often I avoid meeting my school friends these days purely to avoid confrontation about NaMo politics. Memories of having played, stolen mangoes, mimicking teachers together seem like an impossible occurrence for its hard to imagine sharing space with many who now on the slightest criticism of NaMo jump on me and take my flesh out. (Metaphoric statement: The need to give such explanation is necessary) We all were good friends! But today I ask if we all, who are so different fundamentally, were really friends? If yes how could that be? Did those days let us be friends and this day doesn’t even allow sharing of space with them even in memory? My childhood stands far from me and teases me asking “Am I real?” I don’t know what to answer. It doesn’t look real. Today’s shadow has fallen on my past and my past appears too distant. The alienation of today makes my past also seem alienated from me!

I don’t know if NaMo has unleashed fascism or is NaMo a phenomenon which was waiting to happen for the larger mass wanted someone like him to come and give them the courage to bring out the devil inside them. As a friend said, “It’s hard to say whether he is the trigger, bullet or (personification of) war.”

This was just couple of weeks after an intolerant mass spoke with all disrespects about Dr. U.R. Ananthamurthy expressed his opinion about NaMo. He said he wouldn’t want to live in India if NaMo becomes the Prime Minister. So groups of men not just spitted poison at URA but some also sent him money orders for him to leave the country. If expressing an opinion is so difficult for a man like URA what are lesser mortals to do in such a fascist time? When URA is expressing fear about NaMo being “helpful” only to one class & religion and lacks a vision of URA’s dear word sarvodaya, the mass for which URA is speaking is spitting poison against him!

Edward Said says speak the truth to the power and Chomsky says speak the truth to the people. When people and power are in tune with each other? Who do you speak the truth to when nobody wants to listen? When everyone seems to be on some anesthesia!? When truth is not welcomed and considered insignificant?

A friend listening to my ranting in a sad and sarcastic tone asks, “Well, we signed up for democracy, nay?” Yes we did. That is why while speaking at Ahmedabad, after the ABVP attack on FTII students, I had said, “I can’t sing Faiz’s poem aaj baazaar mein because to say hai inka damsaaz kaun apne siwa is impossible.” It is impossible because we, with all our concern, are not their damsaaz. The larger mass seems to be in tune with what we are trying to fight for a better tomorrow. The greater common seems to have a different idea of the greater common good.

I am an anomaly whose anxieties are considered irrelevant, whose questions are considered blasphemous, whose values are considered outdated, whose politics is considered anti-development and whose belief in the idea of democracy- liberty, equality and fraternity- is considered an obstruction to the illusionary future of global power.

Well, my friend, yeah we signed up for democracy!!!

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