A few days back I went for a live standup comedy show. Not being a fan of humor much, I was skeptical about what it will be like. Being forced by a friend into some leisure, I gave in to his demand of accompanying him. Minutes into the show and I found myself laughing. The performer was cracking jokes – all possible jokes in a beautiful narrative – on our day to day chores, sports, cricket, sexuality, regions, religion and what not. I found people pin pointing fingers at each other when they heard something relevant to their friends. There was insane laughter. Everybody was literally rofl-ing. And I came out more satisfied than being happy. Because I could see a tolerant India. There was a CONFLUENCE in conflict.
A few days after the show, I woke up to the hue and cry of JNU row. Suddenly there was lull in the air that was supposedly super charged with anti-India slogans, debate over capital punishment to Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat and consecutively Patiala house incident that flared up the issue raising questions on definition of nationality and so on. Educational institutions teamed up, political parties teamed up too, special interest groups didn’t leave a chance either. Obviously, the opportunists we are! And there was a CONFLICT in confluence. (all being Indians do not know who to side with)
I, being one among billion and fed by what media has, have no evidence if the videos were morphed and there were outsiders in the “cultural evening” in JNU on 9th Feb who invigorated anti-India slogans. I am not even sure if the whole incident is politically motivated or not. Are you even 100% sure? No. Maybe it is a student union tussle being projected and leveraged over by the bigger players out there. Maybe a ploy by opposition parties to disrupt the budget sessions. Numerous possibilities and we are not sure of one concrete verdict.
However there are things I am very sure of and I believe we all – as Indians – should be sure of. (at least be more clear about). Yes we are on our path to being a developed nation and with development prevails sensibility and sensitivity to all small and bigger issues. So it is absolutely fine to discuss and debate incidents, capital punishment, juvenile law, civil rights, religion or region, judiciary or legislature. That is why great institutes like JNU are there in place. There needs to be CONFLUENCE for all of us to prosper as a nation.
At the same time, it all conjures up to freedom of expression and nobody should be imprisoned, or imposed of sedition charges. That is a conflict of freedom. Media has no right to jump on conclusions and instigate tense atmosphere in the states and the nation. What will they do to overcome defamation charges if the protagonist is found innocent and bring back peace? This is a matter of conflict of integrity and sovereignty. Whatsoever, masses have got no right to beat up the accused either found guilty or otherwise. This is a conflict of human behavior. This amounts to total CONFLICT.
Howsoever, if anyone is found to show solidarity or sympathizing with anti-national elements, terrorist outfits or people like Afzal guru and Maqbool Bhat should be deemed anti-national and strict action must be taken against such people. After all we have got no right to stand against the nation that gave us Freedom to speech and express. We cannot take liberty for guaranteed. We cannot make use of the very resources of the nation as a platform to work against the nation.
We cannot let our army men sacrifice their lives on borders and anti-national forces plotting against our motherland. This might not even suffice1% of the holistic definition of nationalism but definitely one of the most important criteria to declare an anti-national. It’s important to remember that we got independence almost 70 years back. So let us forget “Hum kya chahte – Azadi”. Let us chant “hum kya chahte – Taraqi”.Let us avoid THE CONFLICT in CONFLUENCE! Let us find THE CONFLUENCE in CONFLICT!
(The writer is an IIM Shillong alumnus)