Vir Das has never been one to back down from asking uncomfortable questions. He is famous for his own unique brand of toilet humour – literally, considering his premier podcast is called “Potcast” and is always shot with him in the bathroom. Das has previously ridiculed several politicians, and even presented them with challenging questions and assertions.
Well, we live in interesting times, and as Das points out in this video, our right to ask questions and speak truth to power is getting increasingly constricted under an ongoing barrage of state-sanctioned nationalism, under our current Government (not that it was a lot better before). From crackdowns on university students for asking the ‘wrong’ questions to bans on national media channels which haven’t always been on the right side of the Government, to outright threats to the Press, it would be very fair to say that freedom of speech is under attack in this country. And when the Supreme Court stipulates that the national anthem must be played at every theater before a movie and the audience must stand up to pay respect, it becomes downright imperative that the citizens of the country start challenging this environment of authoritarian patriotism.
But another major hurdle to such questions, apart from the Government itself is the legion of fans and blind supporters of the Government, (not-so-)lovingly titled ‘bhakts’ on social media. If they sound like straw men, you need only take a look at any discussion on, say, demonetisation, not just on social media but on most public forums in this country, to see the bhakts passionately defending the move, even disregarding the very visible and severe discomfort that it is causing people – including themselves. What’s worse, they are often supported by a vast portion of the media, thus supporting a very dangerous climate where questions – the very bedrock of democracy – become invalid.
Well, it’s to these bhakts that Das poses an all-important question in this video – one that everyone would do very well to consider, for the health of our democracy. Take a look for yourself: