Category: Politics & Social Issues (Page 1 of 4)
Just watching the protest telecast from across the country is so selfishly reassuring. I know that a lot of people, entirely unrelated to each other, felt the pain of a 16-year old being lynched to death. But I feared that it’ll subside and dissolve in the loud noise of a series of debates and social media hashtags. This being translated into a protest by people across cities speaks. Speaks louder than the TRP-driven television debates.
To all those who went out there to protest on #NotinMyName, a very heartfelt Thank you. This means a lot to me and many other Muslims who feel scared of what’s been happening for a while. And no, I have no shame in admitting that I did felt scared. The usual joy that Eid brings with itself was missing and was replaced with the uncomfortable silence and fear.
To those who did not go out (for various reason) but wanted to, I’m thankful to you as well. Your sense of solidarity and mere acknowledgment that whatever is happening in the name of mob lynchings isn’t right, gives us hope. Hence, thank you.
It would mean a lot if this movement brings at least a little dent to the non-sporadic cycle of violence, but this isn’t easy and I’d be a fool to wish for a quick-fix to the divide among communities. This division is not new and has exploded from time to time. However, the institutional support and legitimacy to the violence were not so visibly lent by the administration in such a large scale (and for such elongated length of time) as is evident now.
I’ve constantly asked myself as to where this hate comes from? How different would be the teaching in someone else’s home than mine? Distinctions at my home stopped at ‘how we should greet people’. A namaste to a hello to a salam. We’d happily mix it up to say ‘Salam’ to a very dear Sitamma Nani at my Ammi’s hometown and say Namaste to an Anglo-Indian Fernandes Dada when he’d come over to meet his friend (my dada). And each of them would happily reply back with a big smile on their face.
I’m afraid every time my little brother goes out of Jamshedpur or when my father wanted to visit Surat in Gujarat sometime back. Both of them sport a beard and place a skull cap; along with the traditional kurta pyjama. I don’t want to fear this. I want everyone to travel as much as I do, but I cannot get over the fear that it entails. This fear only manifolds itself even more with every lynching incident. There have been 18 so far in the last 22 months!
Understandably, many protests like this #NotInMyName or the Black band protest on Eid might seem like the liberal show-off, but to a Scared Muslims like me, this gives us hope that we are not alone.
Thank you again to all those who went out and to those who supported them.
How do you feel when you hear the news of someone being killed in a terrorist attack ? Or an attack by Cow-Vigilates ? Or restrictions imposed by one religion on others ?
If your reaction is not a uniform outrage, then you need to reason yourself why it isn’t so. Reason hard, my friend.
And if you do get outraged over the acts of these lunatics, then hey! Welcome to the club!
The common connection that binds these attacks is the mindset. The mindset which thinks that they are ‘doing the right thing’.
Be it the terrorists who kill innocent people or the lynch mob that kills people for eating beef, transporting cows and in future maybe even looking at cows, are the same. If you still cannot see the distinction then, I’ll again advice you to reason with yourself as to why they are different.
There is no sense of guilt when people commit these crimes. In their head, they are doing ‘what is right or that they’re carrying out God’s work.
And this thought process is not about ‘religion’. The people who actually carry out these activities don’t know much about their own religion. All they do is follow someone. It wouldn’t be wrong to add ‘blindly’ as the appropriate adjective for that.
Even when their conscience pulls them away from doing something inhumane, it is by following their supposed ‘leaders’ that they embark on the ‘right’ path.
I had talked about the ‘credibility’ of people whom we follow and how that can harm us in an earlier post. It is quite critical to allow ourselves to be exposed to new information. To make ourselves open to experiences beyond what we’ve always known to be right.
I’ve shared numerous restaurant tables with people where someone’s having a beer, or bacon, while I’m eating beef. Sure, I don’t like the idea of alcohol and I won’t drink it myself. But should I beat someone up for drinking ? Or should someone do the same because I eat beef ?
It all comes down to just one thing. Freedom to choose. Choosing to eat, wear, speak whatever one wants.
Sure, if there’s something that offends anyone, there has to be respect provided for it too. Forcing others to accept your choice is wrong and there’s no two-ways about it.
We all have to learn to accommodate others in our lives. It can mean certain compromises too but that’s how a civil society functions and thrives.
Concept of one-rule-applies-to-all doesn’t work in a multi-cultural democracy like ours.
The country does not belong to one community. The country does not speak any one language. The country does not eat just one type of food.
You don’t have to agree with others’ choices but learn to accept it.
“…to accept it (this truth) is to recognize that every culture contains itself its own doom unless it pays as much attention to the education of the mass of mankind as to the education of the exceptionally gifted people” –Professor Hogden in Mathematics for the million, London, 1942
This story popped up on my Timeline a while back. http://m.hindustantimes.com/india-news/rejected-for-jobs-40-times-this-saddam-hussain-goes-to-court-for-a-new-identity/story-Npxi3VwfOC5EJl0QdpFZnO.html
It describes the ordeals of a 25-year old who faced difficulties in getting a job because of his name.
It reminded me of how we, as kids who were to appear for our Matriculation exam in the following year, were surprised. Surprised to learn that our friend, whose name was Saddam, has decided to change his name.
If I recall correctly, most of us were of the opinion that its just paranoia. We were kids without the knowledge of how the real world functions. I’m glad he changed his name and avoided unwanted troubles.
I also happened to know a really nice guy with the name Osama. He never changed his name and its been years’ since i met him and he will definitely have a long list of interesting stories to tell.
I do wonder what do people with my namesake are doing ? Will I be responsible for actions they commit or are even blamed for ?
Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor had to face a lot of trouble for naming their baby, Taimur. Although, I’m glad they did not change it!
Choosing a name is no more limited to auspicious time or letters. A quick Google search of all the infamous personalities is now part of the checklist as well.
Shakespeare wasn’t far-sighted enough, I guess. There’s a lot in a name. Not everything is Rosy after all.
Remember that time when we used to wait for that sound of the newspaper being thrown at our doors by the newspaper guy? It used to be me or Dada anxiously waiting.
24×7 news channels weren’t there back then and newspapers were the thing. The timeline of reporting was longer and whatever reached us in the morning was quite certainly a clearer picture.
With the advent of News Channels, things changed and news could reach us instantly in the form of ‘Breaking news’. In this hurry to make it reach faster and claim, ‘We were the first ones to report it’, fact-checks stopped being a priority.
And then Twitter happened and news needed to be even faster.
I don’t know how many of you have watched, “The Newsroom” but there’s an interesting episode which talks exactly about this issue. To give you some context, the tv-series is a take on issues regarding news production, news and conflicts and of course journalistic ethics. This particular episode, which I mentioned, is how a news channel decides to wait before declaring the result of an election. Even when all other news channels have already reported it, they decide to wait and it turns out all others were wrong. And they were right.
A few days earlier, there was a ‘controversy’ where a reality show singer has been issued a ‘fatwa’ for not singing. Everyone was reacting to it, articles were written, facebook statuses were unleashed and what was the result? That there was no fatwa! Don’t even get me started on stupid Fatwas becoming prime time news.
Few days before, when the Gurmeher Kaur issue was the talk of the town, Minister Kiren Rijju reacted to questions from journalists. Later, he himself said that he hasn’t watched the video on which the entire controversy was based!
The Issue with dangal actress Zaira Waseem to Kanhaiya Kumar, who is the face of anti-nationals, to a long-list of ‘controversies’ which could very well be a side-column of a newspaper is the front page news. Probably because everyone needs a ‘front-page’ news item every hour!
Our FOMO instincts make us share the fake news stories circulated by Political IT Teams based on our confirmation bias.
When news channels start competing with Entertainment channels, this is bound to happen.
A lot of blame also has to fall on us, who are actively living on social media. Before writing something as a reaction straightaway, let’s try to wait for a while for the story to develop and then express our ‘valuable’ view-point. Our high-degree of FOMO needs to be controlled!
Even without being a BJP supporter, I can clearly count their poll promises on my fingers. Promises which they declared before elections with hopes of making it good when they get power. They have been successful in getting their message across. Specific message of “15 lacks”, “Jailing Scam-tainted ministers and even Robert Vadra”,“Making sure Pakistan gets a strong message” and a long list of other promises.
From an election-stand-point, it clearly does not matter, whether those promises will ever be fulfilled or will be termed as another Jumla. BJP, mostly thanks to Amit Shah, has figured out the template for election victories. He has busted the myth of the “Muslim Vote”. At the same time, he’s been successful in orchestrating a consolidation of Hindu-vote by giving Developments as well as the “fear of the growing minority” as primary motivators.
Vote-bank politics isn’t restricted to India and is done worldwide. Every party happens to do it and blames the other for it. When Congress, SP, or BSP was trying to hold on to its loyal caste base, BJP went one up, and consolidated them on religious lines, instead of caste.
And no, it isn’t a one-election strategy but a concerted effort that they’ve driven for years. RSS, Bajrang Dal or VHP, are all separate and non-political entities, which have been on the ground working tirelessly to join all the castes together.
Inherently human beings have programmed themselves to be part of a homogeneous group. Groups, separated by National boundaries, regions, linguistically, faith, caste, color, etc. Over time, we all learn/realize, we are essentially the same. Humans. But this journey of realization, overcoming the varied differences, is long. On the back of our minds, we see ourselves as separate and occasionally superior (as well). There’s a constant tussle between what we’ve been made to believe and what we should, based on our experiences and education.
You must be thinking, why am I telling you all this? Just bear with me as I paraphrase.
We are a divided lot. A large section is even racist! But everyone’s evolving to not appear as that racist bigot. But, when an ideology touches upon our fear or makes us envision scary future, for example, Muslim population growth or influence of ISIS, we’re taken aback, and this reason sticks. Irrespective of how far away from reality it might be.
When a reference to Shamshan vs Qabrastan or Electricity in Diwali vs Ramzaan is being made, it isn’t something that hasn’t been said or thought before. This only confirms the existent thought of favoritism to one community. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. The confirmation bias is strong enough to make it believable.
And that has essentially worked well for the BJP in getting its message across. Of course, good PR and media management, and a very vast Social media network has contributed to that as well. The proper messaging directed towards their target audiences worked.
Our anxiety and FOMO, along with the Fake news machinery, no doubt, contributes to this as well.
The opposition to BJP, couldn’t even make use of Demonetization which affected everyone across the country. BJP was successful in making people believe “it was for the good”.
The regional players need to come out of the bubble of remaining limited to their supposed “stronghold”. No one is going to watch a Ranji Match when a t20 is on, bro!
We don’t live in times when “this should be ideally done” works. Figuring out “what would work” is key. Do you think a deodorant would sell if they were to advertise it as “controlling body odor” or when it makes “women want men”, it’d sell more?
How long has it been since Demonetization ? 4 months!
Apart from the politics of it, taking credit or transferring blame or disowning it, we’ve seen quite a lot. In the last 3 (or so) years since this government came to power with a whopping majority, this has been the biggest move by them.
We’ve all witnessed the effects of it. There wasn’t any discrimination in how people suffered. Sure, it varied, if one had jugaad or the lack of it.
More than anything demonetization gave us a lot of awareness. I had hardly bothered about knowing how much a card swipe actually cost!
The hidden charges were finally out in the open and when I finally added it all up. Woah!
I realized why people say that paying with cash helps in keeping track of your money. I guess we aren’t as ‘digitally sound’ as we’d like to be.
Before “D” happened, I hardly used to carry cash. No, not because of “making India a cashless economy” but just out of laziness. I mean, who’ll go to ATMs, unless there’s an urgent need!
And now, I know the locations of innumerable ATMs spread across Kormangala that I can give you directions to it sitting at home. I should thank my landlord for accepting only cash payments for gaining this much knowledge.
Over the months, I’ve become responsible. I now keep extra cash with me, just in case I run out of it, and the ATM sign says, “No Cash”!
Still, old habits die hard, right? Today, when the POS machine failed while paying at a restaurant, I had to shell out the entire cash out of my wallet.
Probably I’ll have to visit the ATM soon, as the guy down the street selling groceries who was advertising, “PAYTM accepted” a few weeks back, says, “Bhaiya, Cash dena hota”.
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