By Srishti Chauhan:
Newspapers in our country are never boring or tiresome to read. There is always something or the other which is so bizarre that you can’t help but be entertained. One section of the newspaper without fail carries articles about some people who were offended by some action which you failed to notice and which you still can’t understand the significance of.
India- a country which has been projecting its image to be that of a welcoming nation with huge potential for success and becoming the future superpower suffers from a severe crippling effect of lack of foresight and inability to think of the big picture of its citizens.
An apt example of this is the Shilpa Shetty- Richard Gere controversy which sparked off when Gere continually kissed Shilpa in a “sexually provocative” manner. Fact accepted. These kisses were not need in the least. But burning effigies and filing cases in courts where thousands of more vital cases are already pending for years and years- is that practical? Is this not a self-promotion strategy by a group of self-appointed soldiers of national shame and integrity?
Another apposite example will be the protest over the Madhuri Dixit song “Aaja Nachle” from a movie with the same name. This song was reportedly insulting towards the Dalit Community. This might be imagination extended too far because a lot of people who read it in the newspapers failed to recognize the line in which the “insult” was intended. Similarly, when a Rani Mukherjee movie used the Sikh ‘patka’ as the tittle ‘i’, protests followed saying it hurt Sikh sentiments.
Are our sentiments this fragile? Or does our religion, community or sect dominate our thinking to the extent that the line between the rational and the irrational starts to blur?
People come out in the streets and protest against the eviction of actor Manoj Tiwari from a reality show. However, when it comes to protesting against the lack of security that leads of hundreds of rapes, abductions and murders every year- the same set of people wash their hands off because they do not want to get into any “mess”.
This is a country where people fight over Babri Masjid and Ram Mandir without realising that concrete structures aren’t likely to please their respective gods. It is the element of humanity and concern for fellow beings that is going to be true service to their gods. In fact, archaeological evidence shows that at the site where the Sangh Parivar demolished the Babri Masjid, there might have been a Buddhist stupa, which in turn was built over the sacred shrines of earlier ethnographic, indigenous, tribal, or proto-Indic communities.
India, in this manner, follows a policy which is quite contrary to that of some foreign countries. France did the impossible by banning the burkha. According to the French president, religion should be a personal matter and not something that needs propagation or public display. Protests followed but yielded to zilch. Similarly, in Germany, a very admirable display of strictness and courage was shown by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government which nipped in the bud a lot of protests against a performance in which the final scene showed the protagonist offering heads of several religious figures like Jesus, Poseidon (Greek God), Buddha and Muhammad. The Home Minister Schauble warned Muslim leaders that they must abide by the spirit of Germany as a country and the principals of a democratic society that it intends to uphold.
It wouldn’t be right for me to say that India needs to re-prioritize its principals and realise that if it guarantees its citizens certain rights (like Freedom Of Expression) then it must make them abide by the Duties of a citizen who enjoys the rights. This is for the more learned and the more knowledgeable to decide. All I intend to put forward is that India as a country needs to change. Protesting over the right things is called “protest”. Otherwise, it’s just a random disruption of normalcy in the world for political propaganda and other such petty personal gains.