Beef, Free Speech And More: 7 Heated Topics That Will Continue To Be Debated In 2016

Posted on January 21, 2016 in Lists, Society

By Amrit Mann Grewal

We might have ushered into a new year, but the baggage of 2015 continues. Accept it or not, as Indians we love to cling to controversies, argue irrationally in the name of debate, love something and detest it the very next minute.

2015 was a rather interesting year – with its long list of debates and controversies. Some were new and definitely caught our attention; others were pretty much the same – just moulded to suit a different audience with pretty much – the same root cause.

There are some issues that will never die in this country, or let’s say if they die, a certain strata will have nothing left to do. If the Ram Mandir controversy dies down and we finally have a solution, imagine how jobless some of our politicians will be. Nothing to crib about, no one to blame!

Imagine if there is finally a solution to the impending Kashmir issue – what will we fight with Pakistan over? How will we critique Modi’s handshake with Nawaz Sharif? Leave that – what will hardliners thrive on!

We are an agenda-based nation. Like it or not – we love our share of controversies and yes we don’t let them die an easy death.

1. Truce With Pakistan – A Distant Dream?

Political doublespeak has only made matters worse for the impending Kashmir row. Accept it or not, we will never know what happens behind closed diplomatic doors. 2015 was a troublesome year for Indo-Pak relations with continuous ceasefire violations and militant attacks. We blame them for attacks, then out of nowhere PM Modi surprises us with his friendly gestures towards Nawaz Sharif and then again we hear of cold vibes between the two. Every government in power has committed to ‘resolve’ the issue, but do we really understand the problem? Is it about religion, region, history or simple ego clash? There is still a lot to fix between the two nations. Only time will tell if that ever happens.

2. To Love Modi Or Hate Kejriwal

modi and kejriwalLove them or hate them, but you definitely cannot ignore these two men. While one debunked electoral theories and won an emphatic election to be in power, the other re-defined the word ‘common man’ and entered a fierce, unforgiving world of politics to change rulebooks.

Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal have their own set of lovers and detractors and a distinct approach towards resolving issues. Pitted against each other by political pundits, both have scripted electoral history and have tasted enormous public support. Both leaders also enjoy an online Army of soldiers who love to slug it out on Twitter – which to me is pretty hilarious.

Be it Modi’s foreign trips or Kejriwal’s ‘odd-even’ rule, both have managed to remain in the limelight and so has the debate around who’s better. Well, it seems the power battle is here to stay and so is the leadership debate between India’s top two politicians.

3. To Be Straight Or Gay

In a nation where the ‘right-wing army’ is up in arms against ‘lovers’ on something like a Valentine’s Day – imagine the plight of homosexuals. Section 377, which makes sex with persons of the same gender punishable by law, has been the most debated topic in the country. To choose a partner of one’s own preference is nothing short of a crime in this country.

The ability to walk with their head held high and a freedom to openly acknowledge their sexual orientation seems to be a far-fetched dream.

While a majority of Indians have an ‘opinion’ and ‘judgement’ on homosexuals, I wonder how many of us stand up against issues that really need to be heard and acted upon. Good or bad, the debate around the freedom to choose seems to continue. Rape laws – someone listening?

4. The Appetite Fight

I call 2015 – the year of the beef. The beef ban, widespread protests and lynching of a Muslim man for possessing beef, definitely was a low point for all of us. Not only was this a sign of growing intolerance in the country but a poor reflection of how we judge a sect over its choice of food. The controversy hit headlines, resulting in widespread debates on right and wrong. State governments made bizarre bans – giving the ban a communal angle and adding fuel to fire.

The entire ‘beef khao, beef mat khao‘ (eat beef, don’t eat beef) issue snowballed into a national debate, leading to of course no solution. This one too, I believe will live a long life.

5. All In The Name Of God – Ram Mandir Or No Ram Mandir

ayodhyaThis one is epic. Controversial, ironic in a way and fodder for political rivalry – the Ram Mandir debate is not seeing the end of the tunnel anytime soon. Right-wingers have time and again reinforced their will to ‘rebuild’ Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. With the current government in power, the momentum for the controversy has surely gathered momentum. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy was recently quoted as saying that the construction of the temple will begin towards the end of 2016.

One wonders what that land really wants – a mosque, a temple or just some peace. Only time will tell! For now, this one is here to stay.

6. The Curious Case Of Aarushi Talwar’s Murder

aarushi talwar2015 once again re-ignited the whole ‘whodunnit’ debate on the controversial 2008 Aarushi Talwar murder case. Avirook Sen’s book, ‘Aarushi‘ and Meghna Gulzar’s film ‘Talvar‘ once again brought to limelight discrepancies in the investigation done in the highly controversial case.

Innumerable theories, botched-up investigation with an ambiguity over what really happened has only left a sour taste.
For now, Rajesh Talwar and his wife, Nupur are in jail. I wonder will we ever find out what happened on that the night of 15-16 May of 2008. Till now, it just seems to be a mockery of justice.

7. Free Speech – Kya Kahein Kya Na Kahein?

Though new, this one managed to make headlines all through 2015. For me, the whole intolerance debate seemed to have missed the core point. While Shah Rukh Khan was advised to go to Pakistan, Aamir Khan was shunned for his comments and asked to leave the country with his family.

The Indian censor board also scripted history in 2015 with its bizarre policies. While a ‘Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3’ is allowed to openly proclaim itself as a ‘porn film’, poor James Bond fights it hard to kiss on Indian screens. (No prize for guessing which would have been shot better).

One wonders why nothing happens to the venomous tongues of leaders like Kailash Vijayvargiya and Prachi Sadhvi, who give the word ‘speech’ a bad name.