Dissent

Its been a really long time since I posted anything up here on this blog, and the reasons are varied. Among my other commitments, which were(and are) too many, I found virtually no time for my blog. This site, which had begun as a place where I’d planned to write about everything under the Sun, has turned to a place where I vent out just anything on my mind. For the past two-and-a-half months, I haven’t even posted a single piece here. In fact, it was today that I actually opened my account after a long gap of two months.                                                                                                                                                   This silence might not have bothered you all. If it did, I’m duly grateful to you for missing me from the blogosphere. For those two months, I apologise. There were numerous occasions when I wished to write, but something that can be defined as somewhere between writer’s block and procrastination stopped me. I had run out of ideas. There were certain point of time, when I contemplated deleting this blog. I seriously didn’t see the purpose of writing anymore, after a few people had told me “Aditya, you can’t do anything about the things you don’t agree to”, and “No one actually cares”.

How wrong I was.

Expressing what I have on my mind either through writing or by speaking, has always been a way for me to vent out and sound off. But the thing today is that we’ve become SO infatuated with the sounds of our voices that we can’t even think of listening and agreeing to the other’s viewpoint. That’s where writing kicks in. To all those haters, yes, maybe I can’t make a difference by writing, but at least people do read, and try to understand.

And then today happened.                                                                                                                  

23rd May, 2019

Elections in a democracy are supposed to be big. Really big. And when you live in the world’s largest democracy, the General Elections aren’t just a one-day phenomenon. Elections, especially in India, are a festival that spans across months, from the implementation of the MCC (Model Code of Conduct) to the Counting of Votes.

And today were the results. The culmination of the campaigning and all the hue and cry that had been made over the past few months. The conclusion of the General Elections, which consumed almost 11.52% of 2019 in India.

For me, politics has never been a play of parties like the others. That’s simply because I feel that no party is perfect, and each one has its share of pros and cons. Because I feel that hate against a certain entity when all you oppose is just a few people related to it, isn’t justified. Similarly, one can’t just love/praise just a single political party without admitting a few cons. All I support is the election of a few candidates who have actually worked hard, worked for a change, and have a vision for the socio-economic development of their constituency, and the nation at large. Being someone who is naturally opposed to Communal hate and divisiveness, asking for votes based on communal lines, and toxic religious politics, I was(and am) repulsed by the sick mentality of the parties who feel that India needs to be free from people of other religions. A few candidates from a certain party provoked my ire, with one of them being the main accused in a terror blast, and another a religious guru who is actually a rapist.

Now if you’re getting too caught-up, let me explain the various reasons for this dissent of mine.

Dissent is the safety valve of Democracy.                 -Justice DY Chandrachud

In 2014, when India voted a certain party to power (let’s call the party WX here), I, along with a large section of the people, saw hope in them, hoping that they’d do what the previous party could not, and would fulfil all the expectations this nation ever held from a government. Their leader (who we shall call SL) looked like a promising, erudite politician who would deliver on all fronts. He rose to power with a cabinet I was initially in awe of. Gradually, they began to form governments in most of the states. I still was happy, and didn’t doubt my faith for WX and the SL.

All this would have gone fine, but as they say, Change is the only constant.

My dissent against the WX began soon after the State Legislature elections of India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, wherein they appointed a person(who we shall call YS) as the Cheif Minister. Now YS was a Hindu hardliner, who not only had made controversial statements regarding religion, but also had almost two dozen criminal and political cases against him.

This made me realize how much the WX was ignoring humanitarian grounds, how much it resented people who spoke against it, and what communal hatred it was sowing in the minds of the masses who blindly followed it. This made me think of all the intolerance that was going on in the country. Why is India still the third most dangerous place for journalists after Syria and Iraq? Why, even after 70 years, are politicians still fighting elections in the name of religion and caste? Why, under the WX regime, people who criticize the government called anti-nationals? Why is it that on expressing one’s dissent against the government, one is slapped with Sedition charges and branded as an ‘Urban Naxal’?

Furthermore, WX plans to establish Hindutva i.e. the hegemony of Hinduism over other religions. How is this even possible in a nation where the constitution guarantees everyone equality in all forms and walks of life?

There are certain youth leaders who stand up for freedom of speech and the vision of a tolerant India. They speak about it, and do garner support. Guess what the WX and its sister organisations do? They slap sedition charges on them, which are equivalent to 6 months in jail without a trial.

Gauri Lankesh, who I have mentioned earlier in some other posts, too was killed for showing dissent through her writings. Where is this democracy headed, if it does not tolerate dissent?

Therefore, in these elections, I wished for change.

Two candidates- Atishi Marlena from East Delhi, and Kanhaiya Kumar from Begusarai were the ones I supported this time. One an educationist, the other a youth leader. Atishi had reformed the education system of Delhi, and was a force to reckon with. Kanhaiya brought with himself ideas of a liberal India, which particularly attracted the youth.Both ran beautiful, crowdfunded campaigns, with celebrities willfully lending support to this idea of the new India.

But the tragedy is that we live in a country which votes on caste lines, which hates the other religion, which looks not at the candidate, but at the leader. Atishi, who received overwhelming support was defeated. Kanhaiya, whose campaign was fuelled by star power, also lost.

Another candidate, who I mentioned earlier as a terror convict, won. Guess what this says about us. We chose mobs over jobs. A terror convict above an educationist. We chose the people who describe the other religions as ‘viruses’.

Is all hope lost? Maybe. Maybe not.

But still, let us not forget that politics, no matter how bad, cannot destroy the idea and integrity of India. Let us not forget that the people are greater than the politicians, and at the end of the day, we share a common goal. Yes, while the re-elected WS government might undermine Freedom of speech and suppress dissent, let us not forget our integrity.

I still believe in the India where harmony prevails; the India where dissent is respected; the India where freedom of speech is ensured, and an India where religion does not draw boundaries of hate between us.

Because the sky was a beautiful place. The sky is a beautiful place. The sky will remain a beautiful place. Irrespective of the government.

Be like the sky. Let not some government change you just because you oppose it. You can always digress and show a different opinion!

And much power to those politicians like Atishi and Kanhaiya who fought for a cause. You might not have won the elections, but you surely won our hearts.

Inquilaab Zindabad!

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And don’t forget to follow @thatdumbkoala on Instagram!

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