Kabir & I share our thoughts on the movie Pink…
Assuming that all of us agree with the universal fact that change is the only constant, morality / ethics / values too keep evolving with time.
Take for instance a scenario in present day urban India – A widow finds love and sets out to dream of a happy life all over again. Today, the widow won’t find much resistance in acting out on her dream. But if we place the same widow in our recent past where widows were isolated from rest of society and were expected to live a life devoid of personal freedom, where widow re-marriage was a taboo, forget even considering it a possibility. As a society, how do we end up judging the same widow for living her own life in a different time?
Morality / Ethics / Values are subjective features and hence invalid units of measurement when it comes to judging people’s behaviour, yet we end up judging others based on our own brand of ethics.
Each generation has a majority that swims with the flow of acceptance in society. This type of people is an adaptive breed, which bends according to the set of rules they are accepted to follow. On a practical note, this approach works on a larger scale, as the strong current of the already established flow takes these people ahead in their present-day social aspects while holding them back in a more pronounced way by stopping the evolution of their souls.
Each generation also has a minority that do not fit in the set norms of society. These individuals are mostly those who are in constant process of knowing themselves, accepting their true selves and keeping in sync with evolution of their concentrated individualistic personas. In this type of people, the risks are high in terms of their social growth but I doubt if that factor matters to these specimen. The need to know one-self generally has its roots in the friction with one’s immediate surroundings and sometimes within one-self. Almost always, the process starts with the ability to question the accepted forms of living.
So in both cases there is growth in some aspects and downfall in other aspects. At the end it depends on what we held important in our personal development. And these values that individuals held important in their personal development eventually alter the way societies evolve.
So whenever I lay my hands on Morality in my psychological toolbox, I tend to set it aside and pick up Empathy instead, which I find to be a more powerful tool when it comes to understanding the choices that people make. And believe me, ‘Understanding’ is a more efficient way of life than ‘Judging’ can ever be.
First of all, I am no Indian congress supporter. I am not an anti-national. And no, I am not a Pakistani either… Not that all Pakistanis are bad people or terrorists… I am just a simple human being and a proud Indian. The fact that I have to put this here as a disclaimer itself is a hint at how much intolerance towards parallel opinions is pouring in on social media.
I agree that India is a far safer country than many other countries in the world. But it’s like closing our eyes to say intolerance is not increasing in India. I see that most people who deny the increase in intolerance are just looking around themselves… Are they directly getting affected? If no, they conclude that there is no intolerance… Very few people are seeing the bigger picture…
For example many exclaim, what’s the big deal about beef (cow / bullock meat) ban? Majority of Indians don’t even consume beef! Now that’s ignorance. When chicken and mutton were banned for a few days, these same people started sharing posts about why should non-Jains not have a choice on these specific days? Then the dal became expensive and a few vegetarians started cribbing about it. Now if we can’t empathize with people who are losing their choices, and state that it’s no big deal, our opinions on the topic come across as ignorant and thus invalid.
Many go on to challenge, “Go and try eating pork in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.” My question to them is, “Are we setting those countries as an example to build our India?” Or in other words, “Are we aiming at becoming a Hindu version of those countries?”
The recent noise pollution on Aamir Khan’s statement which was miss-constructed to focus on just one line which even he himself didn’t say but quoted… His reply to that statement goes with the effect of “Leaving India is a disastrous and big statement to make…” But who wants to listen to what he said as long as we get the sense of pseudo-patriotism by bashing him for using his freedom of speech? And yes, the people of India also have the right to express themselves but calling someone anti-national or directing them to go to Pakistan for expressing their thoughts is not a way of discussion but it is plain bullying. It just shows our systematically developed mob mentality.
Some people also state that such comments ruin India’s global image. Each time there is an incident in India and when someone reasonably criticizes why such incidents happen, it hurts our traditional / religious / pseudo-patriotic ego. Last time we banned the documentary India’s Daughter for the same reason. But what we failed to see is that if the patriarchal school of thought behind such incidents is not criticized, the masses won’t be able to evolve. But seems we don’t want mentalities stuck up in patriarchal setup to evolve. We just want to feel offended at being criticized.
I am not sure why we confuse patriotism with our inability to take criticism. I have not seen a country that has grown into a safe and liberal country without its citizens openly criticizing its government policies or ways of living. Our own India is the best example. If no one would have criticized the popular ways of living in India, we would have still been living in a country with problems like Sati, Superstitions and Dowry. My favourite freedom fighter Bhagat Singh was of the opinion that before cleansing India of foreign rule, we must cleanse ourselves of our deep rooted attachment to our religions. Only then will India be free in true sense. Alas! We are technically free, but still imprisoned in our own vanity for our respective religions. To make it worse, we have started attacking and crushing every voice that tries to criticize our ways of life or our traditions or patriarchy or our government policies and showcase ourselves as patriots or proud Hindus or Muslims. What’s lost is Indianism.
I believe there is a lot of good work that our present central government has done till date since it came in power. And I am happy about that. We are growing at a healthy rate in terms of development. But there is also a lack of a strong voice against religious extremism which is a major concern. Expecting a strong statement from our Prime Minister, condemning these isolated events of extremism and a call and initiation of action to maintain the secular and liberal fabric on which India has grown so far isn’t too much to ask for from a leader majority of Indians voted for.
The problem of intolerance is not just a Hindu or Muslim problem. It is an Indian problem. The fatwas issued by maulvis in India are also an Indian problem. The Durga Vahini being built by Hindu fundamentalists is also an Indian problem. Indian youth enrolling in ISIS is also an Indian problem. The murders of rationalists like Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi is also an Indian problem. The moral policing carried out by fundamentalists of every religion is also an Indian problem. Right wing extremists storming into pubs and beating up girls is also an Indian problem. Horrifying Incidents like Dadri lynching is also an Indian problem. Radicalization of Kashmir is also an Indian problem. Systematic ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits is also an Indian problem. Farmer suicides are also an Indian problem. The daily growing tensions at our borders are also an Indian problem. Sexual violence in India is also an Indian problem. Bans on works of Art are also an Indian problem. So please stop tagging these problems to particular religions or ethnicities.
Yes, we are not an un-liveable country yet, but we are slowly but surely on that route, if we stop criticizing our own ways of life and governance of our country due to fear of being called anti-national…