an old friend and I were having a discussion, apparently our ideologies differ. She asked me these questions:
- what did JNU so called students do?
- Explain what’s wrong with CAA or 370
- When tax payers properties get vandalised by demonstrations, bolly doesn’t come out n speak rt?
My answer as usual was a little too long for a WhatsApp conversation. Turned it into a post here which I feel needed to be said regardless of the fact that I had decided to not speak about these topics for a pretty long time (almost 6 years now)… here goes.
nothing is wrong with CAA or removing 370. The problem is the poor track record of this government as far as implementations go. When demonetization happened we didn’t have the foresight to ensure that size of notes was such that it would fit the trays available in ATM machines. If this level of incompetence can be seen in implementation of such a simple straightforward thing as change of notes which has been done multiple times over the years I feel even a die hard supporter (I wont use the word bhakt) would agree that implementation is not a strong point of this government and they rush into places where an experienced government would take care.
Talking about 370 what really has been achieved? The provisions were all but gone, now just for the removal of a very small number of ornamental special status features what we have done is painted a picture of utter oppression. Shut down a part of India which was so far at least accessible to common folks and if anything made things go from bad to worse. We have successfully with our obsession with Pakistan bashing hyphenated India-Pakistan when that in my opinion should never have been the case. I mean kahaan those bakri chors and kahaan hum log where is the comparison? But no we as a nation want scapegoats and someone to blame for all our woes. Pakistan being the convenient wimp is remembered when anything goes wrong and in the process everything from “religious freedom chahiye dekho Pakistan mein to nahin milti hai” to “petrol ka price badh gaya, dekho Pakistan mein to isse bhi zyaada hai” is reducing our great nation to the level of a failed state. Raise your level comes to mind, stop comparing yourself to people below your league, aim higher. If the removal of 370 had been properly communicated it could’ve been conveyed even to the local population and polity in Kashmir that this is what will make things better for them and this oppressive disconnect and partition (Ladakh) would not have been necceciated. Today it’s an open prison possibly a powder keg.
Which brings me to JNU and the way it has been painted as the hotbed of antinationals. Do you know who conducts the courses, exams and issues degrees for each and every officer of the Indian Armed forces? Yes every Indian Armed Forces officer passing out of the National Defence Academy is an alumnus of JNU, since inception. So yes next time someone says JNU is an antinationals ka gadh please do think of this fact as well. The bedrock of any democracy is debate and dissent. The essence of India is diversity (tumhi tum ho to kya tum ho, hum hi hum hain to kya hum hain). In the media created frenzy we have forgotten that love for nation is not the same as love for the government. Today the government rushes to paint any dissenting voice as an antinational without letting an issue to be discussed on merits. Subject matter experts are labeled as anti national (Rajan for example) and shooed away and then institutions driven into the ground based upon inputs from shakha pramukhs with their half baked theories on how to run a nation. People feel that if somebody is abusing Modi or Shah they are anti national, nothing can be further from the truth. The naxal movement arose out of this very same pushed to a corner because we do not want to discuss your view point approach. We are still trying to solve that problem (actually no one now wants to solve it because it serves a political purpose for all). “So called” students of JNU is easy to say, elicits a sniker and a laugh everytime one mentions 35 year old “students”… but then why do you think these students want to spend their lives fighting the system? Almost all of them have doctorates surely there must be an alternate reality which people who are more focused on roti kapda makaan are unable to understand. The outcome of the intense discussions and deliberations that take place when people who have given up on the material world and dedicated their lives to figuring out and working for the social fabric are not evident to the common man however this is where national policy and polity lives and thrives. There would be no social state if we extinguished all the intellectual capital of the country. We would be left with religious hegemony on one end and capitalism at the other end with no space for sunshine. China and Russia come to mind, lots of money no real aspirational value where it comes to inclusive and intellectual growth. Are we aiming to be the sweat shops of the world? Or would we rather be thought leaders and show the world the path? JNU students, some of them, may be wrong. Every school has these sort of bullies and “wrong” students. The solution is never to beat them out. No, the solution is to stand up to them and convince them to turn around. A good teacher a good school a good nation does not shoot and maim it’s students. Listen to what is being said, do not try and drown out dissent or morph it into a cacophony that can be conveniently labeled as antinational. For every great teacher that you speak to will tell you, I am a student and I am forever learning. No one knows everything there is to know about anything. There is always scope to learn even from people whom you do not identify with. That is the beauty of democracy don’t ruin it by stamping it out under you heavy boots.
Now returning to CAA. CAA is noble and it should have been properly conveyed as intended. Instead in his haste to grab at vote banks our hero started explaining chronology and that is where intent came into the picture. The total number of refugees who will be provided with citizenship thanks to the CAA is 31313, look it up this is the official figure provided by the IB to the Parliament of India. This is the number of people from neighboring countries belonging to the Hindu faith registered in India as refugees (fleeing religious persecution or otherwise) as on December 31 2014. There is no other objective of the CAA. Just regularize these refugees and give them a nation. Anybody would see this as a noble deed. The trouble begins when chronology and NRC smokescreen is created. With an eye on elections in WB and an objective to cleave the electorate there this was introduced in a majorly vague manner. NRC will be conducted all across the country and we will throw out all illegals. Essentially playing to the gallery. Human beings love the sight of blood and gore as long as it is someone elses blood and gore. Human beings love misery. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and sit with women who watch daily soaps. They seem to find a vicarious pleasure in the saas-bahu sagas that portray the pain that is family relations in a degrading society (hypothetical and mostly a figment of Ekta Kapoors imagination). They love to see women sufferring as it makes them feel better about their own plights. And that in a nutshell is CAA-NRC for you. The government has played to this love the sight of blood basal human instinct. The same way that demonetization was sold to the masses “so what if we are having to stand in line we are poor people, think of the saala rich folks they are losing all their crores stashed in the mattresses”. The glee with which the lower middle class looked at slightly affluent looking people standing at the bank queues to exchange notes was telling. In the long term though we know what actually happened. More notes than were officially in circulation returned to the banks and if anything corruption increased. In fact now the rumor going around is is that the government will ban 2000 rupee notes because its easier to stash using these notes. Essentially repeat a futile exercise (tyre rotation just to pass time is what I refer to it as). So now all over again the masses are being fooled into believing that the population will be culled through the process of NRC and that the majority of them will be safe because the CAA will save them (chronology ko samjhiye). The masses are extremely gleeful about the upcoming torture of the minority community. They are being short sighted as was the case with demonetization of currency. When the NRC happens, if it happens, the demonetization of citizenship will be for 100% not the 17% alone. Everyone would be in the queue dry humping each other all over again. The economy has not recovered from the disaster that was demonetization, current years official forecast for GDP growth is 5% (which some enlightened bhakts will tell you is not relevant in the Indian context, economists be damned). I shudder to think of how society will end up once we’re done with the demonetization of citizenship. Forever cleaved and at the mercy of explotative politicians who will make us fight demons forever just so that we continue to live in fear. Fear is good politics.
I have seen how the NRC roll out happened in Assam, I have seen it at pretty close quarters. Just to give an example. If you are originally from Uttar Pradesh but are settled in Maharashtra then you can safely consider at least 5 trips to your home town and at least 3 months of leave of absense from work. The amount of money you would pay the clerks and officials at the NRC centers inspite of having all of your documents is anywhere from fifteen thousand rupees to a lakh per family member. If you do not have the proper documents or if your name is misspelt in even one of the documents I suggest you give up and just sign up for bonded labour at the officials house for the rest of your life, you wont be able to buy your way out of that. Assuming you do get approved as an Indian citizen after jumping through all the hoops and paying all the babus don’t feel relaxed. Someone from your native place will come up and say they also belong to your family. Then the official will call you again for the purpose of reverification and the whole process starts all over again. Assam has completed this process recently, the people who feature on the NRC have not been given any identification certificate or final document that proves that they are Indians. They are still waiting for this document. Which cruel government does this to it’s own citizens? And to what end? Say 10% of the population is culled in this whole process that is 13Crore people. No country around us will take these many so where will these people go? We cannot throw all of these 13Cr people into the Arabian Sea, major human rights issue (even if we do figure out how to). They will go into detention camps where taxpayer funds will keep them alive. Why? Today these people were earning a living and supporting themselves. Now all of a sudden we the taxpayers are to bear the expenses and all because we think these are aliens. Trust me aliens have better paperwork in place than actual genuine citizens. I for instance was born in Chiitaranjan, my father was there as a trainee officer and then we moved all over the country. I did my bachelors and masters from Bhubaneswar. I have not taken both of my degrees from the university. I do not have a birth certificate because none were issued in 1976. I have lived in Mumbai for the past 18 years now (arrived here on 1January 2002) but my address has changed as and when I have bought and sold residences or shifted from and to rented accomodation. I do not have a voter ID card because my local Congress politician and his office feels that I will vote for ShivSena (based upon my publicly acknowledged friends in the Sena) and my local ShivSena/BJP politician and his office feel that I will vote for the Congress (based upon my name) and I have never been not lazy enough to try and get it done the proper way whenever an enrollment drive has been underway (or I have been in transit between accomodations). I feel I am a prime candidate for the detention camps. To think that someone who feels that the biggest failure of his life was when he could not clear the medical tests for entry into the NDA and fight for his country will be thrown into a camp meant for illegals, more important, to think that someone so highly educated and accomplished with enough resources to pay for all these documents and proofs is concerned about the difficulties ahead imagine what the poor man on the street is about to go through. Complete and utter mauling at the hands of the bureaucracy. Some will say “yeh darr achcha laga” for them let me say this “babus will not favor anyone, they will only milk you dry irrespective of who or what you are”, this is going to be demonetization 2.0 only much worse. To those who say but what is the problem with CAA that is different from NRC, well that is the whole point. The intent has been polluted. Now on forward everything that this government says and assures you of will be seen as suspect. In fact should be seen as suspect. In history we have seen this approach earlier as well. In Hitlers Germany. What started out as race laws rapidly devolved into the Nuremberg laws and eventually gave birth to the horror that was the holocaust. Today if we do not see that being repeated we are just not looking hard enough thinking things through. And no this is not reading too much into it or seeing ghosts where there are none. This is what it will devolve into if left unchecked. Is India ready for a holocaust? Is the world asking for one? Apparently yes and yes. But is it correct? Answer that and you will see that those who are fighting the establishment are actually fighting for your conscience the collective conscience of this beautiful beautiful land that is the original melting pot.
Oh as for the Bollywood walas not making a hue and cry about public property being damaged… they do, it’s just that we choose to forget about that din to suit our arguments. Also this is not their core competence, this is the realm of the intellectuals… the overgrown students of JNU and other thought leaders of the country.
A state where the PM and the HM are not safe and turn down invitations to inaugurate functions because of the unrest in that state caused by their confused policy implementation is not a state that is being governed properly (The PM as well as HM just turned down the invite to inaugurate the Khelo India function at Assam citing lack of time… we all know what the real reason is that both of them could not spare even a few hours). Something needs to change and that something is the closed echo chamber in which the decision makers are working. Open the windows let the voices of dissent come in, discuss, debate, take the nation with you through consensus. There is no tearing hurry to implement difficult decisions. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting and for all their good intent the problems arise from implementation failures (deliberate mostly). Lets not also forget that “the road to hell is paved with good intent” and that “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread”.