A girl of Twenty One, Shaheen Dhada, writes on the Facebook post regretting the bandh on the death of Bala Saheb Thackarey. She, prefacing her status with due apologies, mentions that people have closed their shops and establishment out of fear not out of respect, which every one would know, could be true for great many people, late leader's stature and following notwithstanding. It may also be not true, merely an assumption by a young mind. Nothing criminal with that, so any sensible person would have thought. Suddenly things change, Local Shiv Sena leader files a complaint and an unusually enthusiatic Maharashtra Police swings into action. With great alacrity, not seen ever in the cases of corruption (they did fail to notice the fourteen floors of illegally constructed Adarsh Society)arrests not only the girl who posted this, but one, rare, uniquely unlucky friend of hers, who liked the status on Facebook.
IG police, Deven Bharti, calls it a minor aberration, citing an enquiry. Trampling on freedom of speech, a minor aberration, and we still call ourselves, largest democracy. What right do we have to call ourselves that? Is that the respect we have for freedom? The lady representing Shiv Sena, Ms. Parelker, merrily comes on NDTV and says now the girls need not worry, now that they have apologised, thereby implying that with crushing of the spine of young souls, no further need for threat remains.
I am annoyed, will they arrest her please, now? Was'nt that the ground on which Shaheen was arrested(since the charge of hurting religious sentiments was turned down, not that the police did not attempt to impose it)? Do they understand what one day in police custody can do to the psyche of people? When in college, a friend of mine, very upright in principles, ended up in custody for a night, and he came out a different man. He came out a bitter, violent man with scant respect for law and authority. There are a lot of things which a night in police custody can do to a young person.
The young audacity has been humiliated, defeated into servitude, by the connivance of a state which is too timid to act on those who are on the wrong side of law and to please them instead, stupidly, acts in a hurry on those that still have respect for it. What kind of nation are we building? Do we want spineless, nervous kind to form our next generation?
Bal Thackaray was a tall figure, known to speak his mind, ruffling many feathers in his party mouthpiece in the long political career. He did even before he began his political run, made his living annoying those who considered themselves above reproach as a cartoonist. He was considered as one of the most outspoken leaders of our times, never shy of express his mind. No one thought of arresting him for annoying people using section of IT under which the girl was arrested. I do not agree with Bal Thackaray on lot many things, not even on the change of the name of the city of Mumbai, since it did not bring about any change in the day today lives of people, it did not even
prevent certain people from neighbouring hostile country from hitting the shore few years back.
But that he did carry a legacy is something all will agree with, as a counterpoint to the minority appeasement widely popular in the country.The way things unfolded, the direction that legacy is going to take seems precarious.Great harm those who were instrumental in putting the young souls to subservience have done to that legacy of courage left by Balasaheb, as he could stand by his conviction, unperturbed by the impacts on traditional electoral votebanks (may be, he was looking at a different votebank, but still that will not take away from him, the credit for his forthrightness).
People are diluting the debate by mixing it up with the vandalism which ensued. That in a real term is not such a big thing. That is something which can be considered as minor aberration. The bigger problem is what this does to the collective young psyche. The government of a nation which could not nourish and protect the irreverence of youth has failed it's future. My nationalist pride stands severely injured today. It is saddening that we are silently allowing the building of a nation with dead conscience, where one is taught to bow down to the diktats of the mob. I remember, once my chinese collegues boasted of great infrastructure of China, and their new bullet train, and I responded saying," But then, in India, even the guy who runs a small shop in the corner, can stand up and criticise the prime minister of the country. That is the strenght and beauty of the country." Today, my shoulders are stooped and I would rather not look those collegues in the eyes if I were to met them, for India has lost its plot.
Nietzsche had said," The surest way to corrupt a youth is to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently." When I look at the poor, scared woman on the television, my heart weep looking at what kind of corruption this state is sowing in the hearts of the youth of tomorrow. Shaheen is Indian Malala, and those of us who sniggered off at the inability of Pakistan's government in protecting her, must hang their heads in shame on sheer failure of Indian state to poor girl and worse, in being a collaborator in the intimidation of the poor girl.
I look at my girl and think of RabindraNath Tagore,
"where mind is without fear,
And the head is held high...
...where the clear stream of reason
Has not lost it's way into the dreary desert sands
Of dead habits...
....into that heaven of freedom
My father, let my country awake."
Which country was the Gurudev talking about, as the state fails its citizens, bit by bit, day by day, the idea of such nation seems more and more alien to me. Will the PM and the CM of state apologize for the attempt to kill the audacity of youth made by their state machinery? They need to understand every era gives way to the new one, primarily because, the young will not cow down, and if they were to ever cow down, not the nation, but mankind would have lost hope.