The Telegraph
Friday , February 14 , 2014
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It is Valentine’s Day today, a special occasion that does not ‘fit’ the Indian calendar but one that our country has embraced and celebrates as if it were one of its own holidays. This is what has been India’s greatest and most enduring strength: the confidence to imbibe and respect what was once unfamiliar and different. India absorbs bits and pieces of external influences and incorporates them into its larger tradition, thus enhancing and adding more nuances to its fine, unusual civilization that had stood the test of time and age. When this fundamental strength is threatened by crude, insecure forces, it fills one with despair and anger at those who are chipping away at the foundations of this diverse country.

Hinduism is, in its essence, a way of life that encompasses the infinite dimensions of life and living, spirituality, thought and action, ideas and philosophies. Heavenly deities represented the complex attributes of men and women, and served as role models for humankind. The freedom of spirit and of ideas was of prime importance, as were debate and dialogue. Over the centuries, new thoughts and perceptions would enter the fray and add to the larger discourse. Different interpretations linked the underlying, inherent diversity of this country. All of this and more came together and formed the sub-continent. India stood confident and proud, conserving her roots as well as the many branches that influenced her all-embracing domain, making the country unique.

Enough is enough

After Independence, there has been a strange dilution of all that made this country remarkable. There has been a growing inability to counter provocative ideas with dynamic arguments and discourses which go beyond the confines of petty bickering and banning. This has been the biggest ailment that has eaten into the fine fabric of the country India once was. A selfishness and desperate need to circumvent any intellectual offensive by succumbing to the pressure to ‘keep the peace’ has allowed the bully to rule. ‘My way or the highway’ has become the blackmailing tactic used in almost all areas of social activity, ranging from politics to art and literature. This terrifying truth can only damage this nation and corrode what has always been the people’s greatest strength — their minds.

Maybe this dark tunnel that the country finds itself in will have a bright light at its exit. Maybe the struggles and the pain India is going through now will lead to a better tomorrow. Two eras and generations suffering a disconnect must meet at some point to enable a smooth path ahead. If the foundations are secure, then the diversity that rides on those foundations is bound to be progressive and exploratory, leading to stimulating change.

It was embarrassing and shameful to witness throughout last week the state the country is in. Our Parliament was reduced to boorish antics that parliamentarians indulged in with no remorse. Citizens had to bury their heads in shame. These men and women live off the land and the taxpayers’ money; it is their removal from power that is required, not the banning of books and paintings. Instead, these leaders are allowed to run amok, setting the standard for what we see happening on our streets and in our towns and cities. After all, the country will follow the example of its leaders. The breakdown is palpable in the sanctum sanctorum of our democracy — Parliament. This is a harsh and direct insult to India.

The people of India are sick and tired of being taken for granted and treated badly by their elected representatives. They are tired of being exploited by a few leaders who will put themselves before the safety of the people. This horror needs to be stopped once and for all.