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We are not the land of Ahimsa. We are the country that fostered Gandhi’s murderer, whose (ideological) progeny continue to flourish.

Why the pessimism, you may ask. “The government allows us to post whatever we want online!” Allow? Allow us the bare minimum that’s expected of a ‘democratic’ nation?

Under articles on wealth disparity in India and on women’s unpaid labour (two very pressing issues), based on a comprehensive report by Oxfam, this is what people had to say:

Exhibit A.
Exhibit B.

This is the kind of violence that is festering across India. If this is the response we see when it comes to posts on inequality, can you imagine what goes on under posts that actively deal with the ‘maladministration’ of the ruling dispensation, or posts that talk about the miserable lives women, people from Dalit or Muslim communities have to lead? Oh, here’s a sample of that too:

When I started writing this article, my obvious choice was to write on the violence perpetrated by the ruling party and its minions on people who’ve been actively voicing dissent against the Citizenship Amendment Act. But then I realised, violence has been an intrinsic part of India’s ethos.

For all the Gandhian philosophy you might throw at me, I can cite instances of violence based on caste, gender, religion, sexual orientation, (not that the CAA is removed from all this), since before the formation of ‘India’ as it exists today.

Has our refusal/ignorance of these instances led to the nurturing of violence as we see it today? Has the fact that refusal to see brahmanical patriarchy, as a system that has been dictating not just social cues, but policies too, as a very real problem we need to address, allowed us to be the society we are today? (This was a rhetorical question, the answer is a very obvious yes.)

I am very aware of the caste and religious privilege that allows me to have the social and cultural capital I hold. There’s no denying the fact that this ‘brahmanical patriarchy’ has given me the social and cultural capital to let me get to where I am today. I also know that I need to go beyond tokenistic tweets or critiques of this privilege.

Have we lost our will to be empathetic and compassionate individuals? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not parroting the very centrist belief that “Both sides need to be civil.” I don’t think leaders or people who demonise an entire community deserve (at least my) sympathy.

It is also unfair and wrong to put the onus of being ‘civil’ on a community/communities who are at the receiving end of the most dehumanising treatment and policies.

I want the onus to be on the bhakts who leave rabid comments online, the ‘fence-sitters’ or the ‘devil’s advocates’ to have the same levels, or at least an ounce, of compassion that the women of Shaheen Bagh have had, that I saw in a Muslim shop keeper who, even though was on the verge of tears, said he was proud of the younger generation who was fighting the good fight. I dare you to become a compassionate person.

The last 5 years have left an indelible mark on our political, social, and ideological ethos. We are no longer the nation that our Constitution, and Dr B. R. Ambedkar, envisaged. The increased violence, and kinds of violence, that has been the norm these past few years, has made sure that India has a long way to go before we can truly call ourselves the ‘land of Ahimsa’ anymore.

Featured image for representation only.
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