Politics exists everywhere! Be it countries, offices, educational institutions or homes (yes !?). But what is it that makes people evade it in day-to-day discussions? Like those among friends, colleagues, in a metro, and where not. Some of you might disagree to this, but in the last 5–6 years, a discussion of sorts has entered our living rooms through TV where people shout their opinions in our faces, at times even highly toxic ones with peril agendas! The essence of what I mean by the aversion of a political discussion lies in the word “discussion”. But the “discussions” which thus sit unabashedly in our homes, are they even what they claim to be? We encounter opinions day in and day out that willingly or unwillingly form our ideologies.
So, getting back to my point, why this dodging, especially by the youth, we the millennials? Ironically, it is us who are the most affected by not discussing politics, and not being into it. By that I mean, to be a part, a contributor in whatever capacity we can towards the issues that affect us, such as unemployment, education, health, gender inequality, and so on.
This can be heavily attributed to the middle-class Indian parenting (or just Indian parenting), which I hope many would agree to. It is our culture of “obedience” emphasised over, and the reinforcements offered to us while growing up if obeyed. How many of us were actually taught to argue? I have been reprimanded throughout my adolescence, and even now for “bahas ladane ke liye” (for putting up an argument). Because I am a girl? Well, I was never moulded that way. But being a single child and having only a two years younger cousin (probably the only person who was “my age” and with whom I spent a major chunk of my childhood and adolescence in my nani’s house), who was also reprimanded similarly for similar things, reinforced with similar values, I think it was a family thing, which in a way resonates with many like me. Of course, I am not ignoring the gender aspect which many might have faced, and which I, too, have probably not in this situation, but in many other ways. Sticking to my initial agenda, I see this as a major socio-cultural reason.
Or is it that that politics is only adults’ department? And we are just expected to be at the receiving end obeying them as we do in our homes—collectively get our destinies decided by our “buzurg” (old) politicians? Forget about participation, even keeping and forming opinions, is discouraged. We are taught to think good, be happy and away from all chaos, etc.—all by obeying the elders because they know what’s good for us!
This is true, especially for girls and women. Firstly, it is the will of the father, which is probably co-shared with the brother, and then, the husband. By stating this trinity, I don’t want to picture a typical soap-opera of violence and drama in a woman’s life. I’m only trying to portray what I have observed and heard from the people around; it is subtle and in most actions and words implied, observational. Be it observing one’s parents’ relationship or any sort of permutation and combination involving a man and woman; you know what I mean! ( And here I am not even considering people outside the gender binary, because we never acknowledge their existence, and I personally have no software in me on how to interact with them. Of course, this is altogether a different discussion that one should have, very much social and a good amount political as well). So, what I intend to point out is, as being born with breasts and vagina, having an opinion shouldn’t be your portfolio. So, again, opinion and politics become a big no-no.
Also, in our country, politics is not something which is perceived to be “good” or something to be dealt with or engaged with. Now place it next to the image politicians have on larger audiences or India’s obsession with reputation and reputable jobs like that of engineers, doctors, civil servants and so on, and politics becomes a “dirty job”. So no one methodically and categorically ever engages in any way with it. Forget this, not even in a good, cultivating discussion, the issues which are related to politics that are also very social come up. I believe social is very much political; in fact, societies wouldn’t have existed if not for politics involved in it.
Or is it that for us, politics exists somewhere just in the air, embedded somewhere and, opinions (which of course, most of us have) on many things, Bollywood stars, their personal lives, personal lives of people you know, some good ones on pollution, environment, fashion, clothes, metros… Yet what all this narrows down to is the political opinion which scares us the most. This is the political opinion of anyone you know or even the one you fear you might form. It is probably the fear that you think might prove your political inclination and disturb your facade of being neutral or being with the majority, or of being wrong (or obedient?). This I understand, it comes naturally—given the constriction of freedom to do so, which is more so true in the times given.
I don’t know which is scary: to have some opinion or at least a discussion on what affects you directly, or just live in a bubble because you live in a post-truth era? (Do you get the joke?) I mean, of course, to not have one is a fundamental right! Did you know that or you simply practised it as a convention!?
Here, I don’t intend to fortify that one should have an opinion, neither that one ought to have a political opinion. The rant enroots from the trouble of ignorance of the matter in concern, for it affects everyone, especially young people like us. What I imply is a political discussion. Political discussion on anything and everything that concerns us, trouble us, affect us, comes from our opinions, personal lives and trauma, and anything under the sun. Not that I am obsessed with it. But pick anything around the globe, and I bet it is very much there.