The quote I have read the most in the past few days is “All politics is a struggle for power; the ultimate kind of power is violence”. To a millennial child, Republic Day of 2021 was different in the same light. While it marked the hoisting the flag in school and receiving treats thereafter as a kid, adult me went to the India Gate to feel the patriotism. But patriotism and nationalism both changed in later days.
The form and ways have changed. Love for the nation has become a thing of extreme demonstrations. I see Jai Shree Ram chanting bikers creating a mess on roads. There is the end of loudspeakers fed with Hindu slogans. There are rallies by so-called patriots showing the number of offerings being collected for the Ram Mandir. And not being a ritualistic Hindu is seen as outrageous. I am sure none of our rulers meant it, optimistically. These are all the new developments around me in recent years.
It was encouraging to see Ladakh getting an independent space to showcase its culture. But we know the cost behind it. The most striking feature was the homogeneous sectional representation. It had something to do with our Vedic Heritage. Probably we wish to delete our minority section from minds just like our textbooks. And by a minority, I do not indicate toward Islam only. So Delhi must be applauded for including our heterogeneity.
For the last two years, I have witnessed male bikers creating a mess on road in the name of patriotism; the objective being chanting nationalistic slogans. While there is Freedom of Expression, I am sure we did not ask for such ruckus. In disguise, it gives men a chance to make women on roads uncomfortable with their body languages. Did we ask for such a celebration?
There has been an increase in the number of ordinances, no matter if Parliament is in session. As our representatives abide by the Constitution, I am sure they equally respect the Question Hour. But where did the problem occur and the nation started facing protests on legislations? The Triple talaq law, CAA, J&K Bill, Migrants crisis under sudden lockdown and now the farmers’ protest, have we ‘earned’ them in exchange of burying public opinions?
Then, we have investigating agencies uncovering cases against leaders when everyone is equally under mud. This country saw Anna Hazare’s peaceful protest as well as Nirbhaya incident’s outrage but we had productive outcomes from such events namely Lokpal and POCSO Act. While I do not justify disrespect for any religion, do we want comedians behind the bar for jokes?
My conscience had two images of bloodshed and riots- Godhara and Babri demolition. But recent years have seen an increase in the frequency of the same. From violence in our campuses to East Delhi riots, there has been bloodshed.
India has been criticized internationally for mob lynching. The causes may be most benign but there are both Pehlu Khans and Sushil Giri Maharaja. Violence will not take us anywhere apart from more hatred and violence. Then we had East Delhi riots, followed by JNU and Jamia violence. Nobody seems to know the perpetrators but they exist for their objectives. But there is a gross insensitivity towards violence. We know more repent the violence and do not even see it as unwanted.
The underlining thought remains the changing environment. What happened on the Red Fort remains unfortunate but calls for introspection. As a nation, both the system and the public must introspect what brought us to such boil. Can we not re-establish the situation?
This republic day must be taken as an opportunity to revisit constitutional values and its basic structure. No one can see our country indulge in such regular battering of sorts. In the wave of right-wing politics across the globe, there must be a balance between ideology, participation and welfare. After all, if power and struggle do not stop reinforcing each other the spiral of violence would be never-ending.