Self hate
This divisiveness will not heal in our times and that is the tormented legacy we leave to the next generation Image Credit: Shutterstock

How casually have homes and livelihoods been, bulldozed taking down with them not just bricks and mortar. Should we avert our face in cowardice or put a curtain over the depth of overwhelming hopelessness as festivals that once glazed over the country with their colors become the latest to succumb, losing the good fight.

Instead, in the new order there is rejoicing as houses are torn down by an administration that has dismissed the courts of law with disdain.

Is this the point of no return? The imagined rage that has been simmering for a while has now bubbled over and like a stroke of brush wiped out even the essence of celebrations that for decades a collective people prided themselves on.

Are we the last of the Indians who embraced multiculturalism and meant what we wrote about India’s diversity in our school text- books in a moment in time that was inclusive without inhibitions and when people of different faiths in harmony did not make headlines for it was a foregone conclusion?

An era of majoritarianism

A time before the genie was let out of the bottle and despite every quarter thrown into the wishing well will no longer be easily bottled again. The road back- if and a long when, will have to cross the destroyed fabric of a nation fitted into boxes- of majoritarianism and those whose misery it thrives on.

From food, festivals to just a fetish, every week there is something new as though we left our engine of development and livelihood on another platform and are now simply bogeys that attach like magnets to this visceral and all- consuming hate on a train to nowhere.

It is not just what they have done to ‘them’, it is also what they have made of us. Vegetarian citizens thirsty for blood, ignorant citizens with chants of murder- these do not portend troubled times, these are troubled times.

Those who lampoon and distort the independence struggle are now partaking in the kind of communal divide that we have perhaps not seen since then, nor is it isolated. On Ram Navami, the celebrations were overtaken by violence on the streets in at least four states, was it was a matter of time anyway?

DEMOLITION
The admin in Madya Pradesh in India demolished several buildings in Khargone after Ram Navami procession clash Image Credit: Screengrab

Mobs singing provocative songs while brandishing swords hysterically as though they didn’t have a care in the world is the tableaux playing out on loop since the festival. They didn’t and they don’t for if ever silence- of the leadership and India’s middle class spoke a thousand words, it is now.

Young men and some women even holding toddlers all did the danse macabre against those they think they hate little realizing in their thirst that they are the dispensable.

They are someone else’s children. The children of those who are in position to stop the country even now from its freefall are nowhere to be seen, the hands that rocked their cradles will never allow their own to dirty their hands, instead sending them to foreign schools and universities while those on the streets remain puppets on a string.

Real issues have got left behind in a world we identified with and instead the hate is all consuming and it fills their stomach, or so they believe. But it was never about the food or the hijab and the mobs on the streets don’t know that their inability to read between the lines makes them the chosen ones- for target practice.

Nothing moves the meter

There is a pattern, every few days there is a new issue with an old tagline- joblessness, fuel prices, nothing moves the meter. Instead, we are being told what we can or cannot eat, students in a university campus are attacked for their choice of food and Arabic packaging in Haldirams snacks is questionable ‘halal’ for a people who have the highest diaspora living and earning in the UAE. 

Misinformation and half-truths on social media remain the gold standard for fanning this violence and whataboutery that dismisses even the justice system comes from handles that proudly proclaim the national flag as though convincing themselves that patriotism is only about wearing it on the sleeve, on the street or on a social media handle. Many of them are news anchors.

Once we were about our people, today many rejoice because others, innocent and equal citizens of our country now live in fear. What will the next festival bring? How should they protect themselves for no one is protecting them?

This divisiveness will not heal in our times and that is the tormented legacy we leave to the next generation. Have we stopped growing as a county, was this our journey, for growth is not just in global investment or development indices?

In the words of the much reviled Jawahar Lal Nehru, “Evil triumphed often enough, but what was far worse was the coarsening and distortion of what seemed so right. Was human nature so essentially bad that it would take ages of training, through suffering and misfortune, before it could behave reasonably and raise man above the creature of lust and violence and deceit that he now was?”

Cry, my beloved country.