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Why I’m Scared Of Sharing My Thoughts About The JNU Row On Social Media

By Abhishek Bhardwaj:

Source: Flickr.

I thought that if I post this on social media, people would immediately start judging my intentions. Therefore, I’ve decided to publish this on a neutral platform. I wanted to write about a few things that have been bothering me after absorbing all that is happening around us. I’m talking about everything from the whole intolerance debate, the Rohith Vemula issue and now the ‘anti-national’ sloganeering at Jawaharlal Nehru University. I wasn’t afraid to post my thoughts on social media because I’m worried about any legal action against me. The reasons are different.

I am scared of losing precious friends who may think I am doing this for a political motive, which is untrue. I am doing this because it seems right. It’s alright if they apply a different logic. I respect that, but that doesn’t mean my logic is flawed because it doesn’t match theirs. Aren’t we losing the basic concept of coexistence, of having multiple ideas and still being respectful? Not only this, I have observed tensions crop up even among my friends and relatives with opposing political ideas.

We are all out on Facebook and Twitter to prove our point. And sometimes, we even get personal and demeaning to prove our point. We upvote and share anything on social media regardless of its merit and the impact it might have on people who cannot see through those and realise the truth. People judge the merit of the posts by the number of ‘likes’ and not their content. There is definitely something wrong about this.

I am scared of being termed, at the drop of a hat, an ‘anti-national’ or a ‘karyakarta’ of a political party. I don’t have time to complete my chores at home during the limited time I have on weekends, forget about being a ‘karyakarta’. I would love to spend more time with my kids and listen to some good music instead (and yes, I love to hear Ghulam Ali and Farida Khanum as much I love listening to Jagjit Singh and Hariharan). It seems that only a few have the right to call themselves nationalists.

My blood boils every time I see any army men being killed or, worse, beheaded at the border and I condemn every action that is against the integrity of India. But, at the same time, my heart cries when I see a three-year-old child begging on the street with his limbs broken on purpose. My heart cries when I see my neighbor dying of cancer as they don’t have enough money to get that person treated in a better hospital. My heart cries when I fail to provide better education to my children since we don’t have enough good schools and I can’t afford to donate lakhs to get them admitted under the ‘management quota’. I feel so helpless and worried for my kids due to rising pollution levels which may harm their health in the long term.

We expend all our nationalism on India-Pakistan cricket matches, or anything else to do with Pakistan. And this is exactly what the political parties use to separate people based on religion and affinity. I think, thinking about the basic things that our country needs like healthcare and education is equally, if not more, nationalistic. Asking for the basic right to question what is wrong is equally nationalistic.

I am scared to use the words like ‘tolerance’ and ‘intolerance’. They are the new curse words. Based on what I choose out of those two words, I’ll be on two completely different sides of the dividing line for no valid reason. I know we have a tendency to divide people based on religion and ethnicity. ‘Tolerance’ and ‘intolerance’ are the new additions to that list.

I am scared, disturbed and confused about what I read and see in the newspapers/news channels on a daily basis. Ten sources with ten different versions of the same story. The media is supposed be the fourth pillar of democracy. It is supposed to provide transparency. But it seems that, at best, it works to disillusion people. Television debates are something you just can’t watch as they are little more than a rumble of various disgruntled voices. They try to prove their point shamelessly and with little sensitivity to the issue. The main issue gets lost somewhere in the blame game and nobody seems to care about this.

Please excuse me if this is not in line with your thoughts. I have nothing to do with any political party or group but, yes, I have my own reasoning which is, hopefully, alright for me to have.

I am writing this because, somewhere, I feel disturbed and hurt. Although I don’t have time to do much beyond my life in the corporate world and devoting the remaining time to my family and music, I wanted to put this out. I have no expectations. Just like it’s not right to say absolutely anything in the name of our fundamental ‘right to freedom of speech’, it’s definitely not right to avoid expressing your thoughts because of what others may think of you, even when the truth is staring you in the face.

“Jai Hind!”

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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