India 2019: The Nation I Want and the Nation I Don’t Want
October 19, 2018
Is this the India we want?
A country in which citizens are murdered or attacked for being rational; for being critical, for raising a voice of dissent; for just being themselves, Muslim or Dalit or women. Intimidation, threats. Hatred. Lynching. Sickening violence. Students and teachers given the choice between being leashed in thought and word, or being hounded as seditious. Institutions built over the years weakened. The economy and development turned into exercises that mock the needs and aspirations of most people. The secularism, the scientific temper and the rights promised in our Constitution subverted every day. Our democracy, our India, frayed.
But this is our country. It belongs to us, and we belong to it. We have each other for support. We have our poems and songs and films and essays and fiction and art. Our diverse voices.
What is the India we want?
First of all, the very concept of India as a nation state came into existence after the Constitution was accepted. Prior to the nation state, there existed a confluence of provinces and princely states consolidated by the British rule to make governance easier. The princely states had their own rulers, lawmakers and the entire state apparatus under their control. So, when we came into existence as a nation state, we were a democratic, secular and socialist republic ruled by the people of India. This was not a theocratic state or a religious entity.
I want my nation to live up to its Constitution. I want a state separated from religion; I want politics to be independent of it and I want it to become a truly secular republic. I do not want an all-pervading state affording equal ‘respect’ and space for all religions. The term secularism has been distorted to include all religions as a pathway to a secular god. Let me repeat, that there can be no such entity because each religion has its own concept of divinity and my country is also the birthplace of two religions, which have no foundation in a god! While we speak of ‘culture’ with reverence I see it more as a matter of convenience. Culture has to be kept outside the purview of religion. I would want a religion-free look at architecture, sculpture, music, drama and the performing arts.
I want my country to be free of exploitation – both from multinational companies as well as from the so-called swadeshi ones. The former is associated with alleged modernism while the latter by nationalism – both of which are fads. The former brings with it, the Colas and the ‘burger culture’ while the latter extols the virtue of swadeshi and organic. But, both of them are two sides of the same coin and are both supported by the state. The occasional noises made are just for public consumption. In fact, they feed on each other; when one produces Coca-Cola, the other produces a gaumutra variant of the same! When the latter makes a swadeshi concoction like chyavanprash, allegedly a panacea, the former comes up with it’s own variant. In short, both of them take the consumer for a ride with tall claims. I want my fellow citizens to be free of this exploitation.
I want a nation where people have the freedom to enter into relationships with mutual consent regardless of religion, caste, language or gender. Now that the Supreme Court has struck down Section 377 of the IPC, citizens have the right to love regardless of their sexuality. I want a common civil code, not a Manuvadi one. I want a civil code that accords equal rights to all citizens without giving any preference to the personal laws of any religion or customary practices. I want simpler laws for pair bond formations as well as for getting out of them.
I want my country to allow people the right to choose their own diet. In a country where more than three fourths of the population is not vegetarian I would like to have the right to consume the food of my choice. I want to be free to be able to eat my eggs, fish, mutton or even beef when I want to. Just as I would not force a vegetarian to eat a piece of meat or fish, I would not like a vegetarian to dictate my dietary choices either.
I want the best available medical care for myself, my family as well as for all my fellow citizens. I want adequate psychiatric facilities so that such patients will not have to be taken to sorcerers for exorcism or magical cure. I want an anti-superstition and inhuman practices banning act for the entire nation as has been enacted in Maharashtra and Karnataka in order to prevent such exploitation.
I want freedom of the press and not a biased, purchased media who are puppets in the hands of the ruling classes and the exploiters. I want the media to be accountable for what they publish and give equal opportunities to both sides. I want the media to be free of the clutches of the moneybags who dictate editorial policy and do not tolerate opposing points of view. I want the freedom to debate, criticize and question. Like the Supreme Court has struck down 377, I want them to abolish Section 295A, i.e. the blasphemy laws.
What are the things that I do not want? I do not want barriers among my fellow citizens in the name of caste, religion, language, ethnic origin, gender or sexual orientation. I do not want a nation where people are lynched for their dietary preferences, dress, belief in a religion or the lack of belief in one. I do not want a nation where one religion is given preference over others in the name of tradition, culture or mythology disguised as history. I do not want a theocratic state with sarkari gurus dictating policy in all matters merely because they have credited themselves with the wisdom to do so! The same applies to the mullahs, padres, jain munis and bhikshus too! Let them confine themselves to spiritual matters and preach to their followers as much as they want but not to the average citizen.
I do not want my country to substitute science and history with mythology. While the former demand evidence, mythology is simply a product of fertile imagination. I do not want my country to worship Spiderman, Superman or such beings from the literature of yore. I do not want exploitation of children, women, the so-called lower castes or any other human eing. There is only one class of citizens in this country and I do not want a privileged class or a section of society that has been relegated to the position of second-class citizens. I do not want my children to be exploited in any way. I do not want discrimination in health or educational services. I do not want a state in which the common man is sent for medical treatment in AYUSH while the rulers and the affluent classes get the best modern, scientific and evidence based medicine.
To put it very concisely let my nation be a civilized, secular, exploitation-free society where all can flourish and no one is discriminated against.
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