Dear Millennials and Generation X,
I’ve been thinking about how to write on something that resonates with most people who can read English, and cater to the age group of 40 years and below. In today’s world, it is becoming more and more difficult to communicate with those who belong to a different ideological group. Most people have labelled themselves into strongly-defined categories. These labels have, in some way, decreased the credibility of what is being said.
If somebody considers me a supporter of the Bharatiya Janata Party, I’ll be labelled a Hindu nationalist and everything that I say will thereon become a moot point. Since I am a Hindu nationalist, a bigot, a fascist enabler, I cannot make sense, and thus, must not be heard.
In the same manner, if I belong to the other group, the ones who call themselves left-libertarians, nationalists, and citizens of the country, then I am labelled a communist, a JNUite, a Maoist, an Urban Naxal, or worse, a Muslim.
I hope you can believe me when I say that it does not matter which of the above groups I belong to; what matters is that I am in my 20s, just graduated, and have my whole life ahead of me. To those whom this letter is addressed to, must be in a similar spot. Some of you lucky ones might have a well-paying job, a love and a dream vacation.
I write because I want to bring to your attention the fact that the country where we have to spend most of our lives, might not be in the best of the situations. Now, you don’t have to agree with me, most of you might not. But hear me out.
Do you remember when you were in school, there was that kid who was confident enough to ask the teacher questions that could get them into trouble? Sometimes, this kid would stand up for a fellow classmate whom the Hindi teacher was needlessly hitting. Sometimes, this kid would, in the hope of providing a true account of an incident, speak for a child who was too scared to utter a word in their own support.
Most of the time, this kid would be reprimanded for questioning the teacher, the authority in the classroom. It would be unfair, some of the students in the class would know, but they would keep quiet in fear that they might get reprimanded too.
Do you remember when we knew a man was looking at us in an inappropriate way? But there was nothing we could do about it? We felt scared that we didn’t have enough evidence to prove his wrong intent, or feared that we would lose an important opportunity because of which we had to expose ourselves to a man? Sometimes, it would take another girl, who’d gather the courage to complain about that man for us to feel that we had got our justice.
These are only a few incidents when something was not okay and a person gathered the courage to speak the truth to power. Sometimes, teachers would order us to not ask questions, and then, the kid who, in all their honesty and good faith, would question the teacher, would be given a punishment so severe as to never do that again?
If I say, the girl who called out her sexual offender at work was told that no man could commit a crime like that, instead of being blamed for asking for his attention. This would then be put in bold letters, stamped on her call letter, leaving no chance for a woman to even consider sexual offence as an offence; like it isn’t, after her marriage.
What if, I say, those who are in power today are not willing to let those who question them be? I’m not going into the detail of whether the point of contention is itself wrong, I am only asking. If I question the government and they put me into prison for doing so, does that not hint that we are moving towards a very rigid space? Is that the India we want? An India that reminds us of George Orwell’s 1984? An India where, if one doesn’t toe the line, one gets jailed?
The Government could be right. Maybe those who are questioning have misunderstood its intention. There is a space for dialogue. Why are young men and women, not looking for jobs but asking questions instead? Is this their favourite pastime? Maybe there is something that they are pointing the rest of us towards.
Do you know when your lover is unfaithful, there is nothing that they can do that doesn’t remind you of their unfaithfulness? Your friends keep telling you that you might be overthinking, but your hurt ego has made an opinion so strong, that even though your heart wants to understand it, you cannot.
I beg you to listen, to not throw caution to the winds! Before it is too late, those in our 20s and 30s have to prevent this country from becoming unquestionably ugly.