Opinion: Is This The India We Wanted When We Elected This Govt?

It is really appalling to see a new issue spring up every other day in our country. Especially at a time when every issue out there, is an agenda item for major political parties to politicise for their own advantages.

The country has witnessed a continuous string of anti-CAA and anti-NRC protests over the last couple of months: December 2019, January 2020. Source: Reuters

In recent days, we are witnessing an intriguing phase in Indian politics. And, it is our fault, to begin with. We have allowed a mandate so large to the ruling party, that no dissent seems significant, and the Indian legislative system has been reduced to a mere organ, for ratification of government drafts and bills.

This is definitely an India closer to the post-colonial idea of India than the future we believe we can achieve. India of the future would stay away from social hierarchies that invariably lead to social injustices. In other words, caste, religion, race, sexuality – none of these would matter, because they should not influence public opinion. These lead to divisive arguments, which is the primary target for the saffron-clad oligarchy up top, to impose their far-right nationalism.

If we critically examine the doings and wrong-doings of the current government. representing current India, we will find that for anyone but a Hindu Brahmin, the result is strikingly similar to one of the most prominent PG Wodehouse sayings I’ve ever heard.

It would resemble the fate of a man “searching for a leak in life’s gas pipe with a lighted candle”. But, advocating anything else, is for someone who is blind to the political reality, existent under this atrocious regime. Especially when we are at a political paradigm that is far from civil. During the time I take to discuss the uncertainties, there will be around 8 rapes, 15 deaths due to hunger, 4 million tweets from BJP IT Cell employees, but no positive change.

It is also perhaps the amount of time it takes to clear 2 football-field-sized lands in Amazon, Brazil and reject over 1000 immigration applications illegitimately in the United States. But, as an Indian, what I am most concerned about is the sheer nonchalance of the current regime towards public opinion, let alone, public dissent.

Most of such pseudo-democratic dictatorships around the world, including China, and DPRK, have this particular trait. The shameful trait of shutting down public dissent. At least, in the other two cases, the leadership is honest.

There was a time where this dissent mattered. It could shift paradigms in public affairs. At least the new India we envisaged as a democratic youth coalesce, is where it would.

We pride ourselves over the ability to grow economically but we have the worst wage gap with the top 1% possess over four times the wealth of the nation’s bottom 70%. We believe we have eradicated hunger but we still rank 102nd out of 117 nations, in the Global Hunger Index.

The top 1% possess over four times the wealth of the nation’s bottom 70%.

We have the best medical colleges but the worst rural health standards and one of the highest deaths due to mistreatment. We believe in our education but we were ranked 72nd out of 77 nations in terms of standard of education and employability by PISA. – Programme for International Student Assessment – who went on state that most grade X students are incapable of solving class V arithmetic problems and write in more than one language.

We call our India, our motherland, but we have a Gender Inequality Index Score of 56.2, which translates to 95th position out of 129 countries, which is in the bottom of the Asia and Pacific regions.

We have one of the largest national coastlines but we may run out of drinking water by 2030. We apparently lead the race towards cleaner alternative fuels but we just had the worst air quality in our national capital, in decades. It was so bad that no air pollution index could accurately read the levels of suspended particulate matter in the air. So bad, that people resorted to breathing fresh oxygen in elite bars.

India boasts one of the largest industrial markets and was considered the fastest-growing Asian economy, until Bangladesh took over, while the rate of unemployment shot up beyond compare.

We are one of the largest e-waste generators in the world although, amidst the cry for a ‘Digital India’, the Internet penetration rates remained mostly unchanged in the past few years.

We are building townships on natural bio-filtration units such as wetlands; for instance, in Kolkata itself, the New Town, Rajarhat industrial complex is built on the space for East Kolkata Wetlands, one of the largest natural bio-filtration plants, in the world!

We have one of the lowest forest coverage area-to-land ratios at around 21.5%, we still choose to exploit these natural reserves. Instead of building stronger, more just, resilient institutions, we built statues and temples.

Mumbai, India, May, 2019: People stand in a queue with their utensils as they are facing water crisis at N R Nager Diva East Thane, on May 17, 2019, in Mumbai, India. In just one week, 800 more villages and hamlets have been added to a list of areas depending on tankers for their daily water needs, as the stock in Maharashtras dams fell to 14.85%. (Photo by Praful Gangurde/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Instead of reaching out for the East and West with both hands, we decided to reach into our chest cavity and rip out our heart and lungs, absolutely decimating the Indian idea of unity in diversity, the idea of India that is secular and progressive, leaving behind a corpse sans a heart and lungs, covered in gross de-colourised blood and pieces of meat.

I covered all the 17 sustainable development goals since I began addressing on behalf of the youth coalesce, but, we are yet to find out where we, most potent economy in the world, the largest democracy in the world, lead. But yes, someone must lead the way. So, the question is, who will?

So, come to think of it, although we have a new India this new year, it is definitely not the one we wanted when we elected this Government with the largest mandate in the history of elections.

We are walking towards the imperial ideas of divide and rule, colonisation based on class, caste and religious interests, among others; at a time, we could have driven a flying car into the future of understanding the multi-cultural, heterogeneous idea of India, realising its inherent heritage and values that have developed over the ages.

We could’ve had a plural society based on the multi-cultural beliefs of individual rights, secularism, progressive economics, internationalism. But, we instead have a communal society where public discourse is stirred up from long spans of indifference by communal hatred. This idea of India is a mirage. It presents us with a false consciousness about where the water is while we walk barefoot in the sands of a desert.

This idea of India lures us but doesn’t quench our thirst; our thirst for patriotism, our thirst to grow, our thirst to be a superpower, our thirst to be a promising sovereign socialist secular, democratic republic.

The idea of India that quenches this thirst, the idea of India that is an oasis, is still eight miles away while the idea of India, the youth can lead us to is the one where we don’t need to look for an oasis to quench our thirst; but rather, an idea where the water flows as free as it does in an ocean. An ocean of culture, heritage, diversity, unity and growth.

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