By the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal
When we as a country were fighting for the independence, we were a different society, a society who in questioning the British rule was also looking for its own identity. Different people sought and adhered to different ideologies but the goal was common, freedom of India. But today, we have become a hollow, empty shelf of our intellectual past. We are too concerned in ourselves to notice the things that affect us as a group.
Well being and freedom of a country depends on how educated masses interact and engage in its politics. By educated I don’t mean people with degrees but people who can think in common terms, people who are aware as citizens and who can contemplate greater good over personal gains. Back then when we were struggling against British, we use to read a lot. Since pen was considered dangerous, the Brits banned hundreds of newspapers and books but they weren’t able to suppress our intellectual appetite. But today, we have become digital mass of mindless followers whose reading is limited to WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter. Very few of us question our political leaders be it the left or the right. Few days ago Priyanka Gandhi was named general secretary of the Congress party from Eastern UP, pandering media outlets hailed her ascension as empowerment of women but somehow no one seemed to have a problem that India’s oldest political party cannot find a congress worker, be it man or woman, with a non-Gandhi surname for the job. Such fast promotion happens in only one other country, North Korea.
Similarly, people supporting BJP usually find no reason to question PM Modi on his policies, one can support and like PM Modi but that doesn’t mean you cannot critique his policy decisions. My dad often jokingly says, a voter should not be like NDTV or Zee News, one doesn’t see any good in government and the other doesn’t see any bad. Does prime minister know that how tough it is for general, middle class candidates to get into govt. jobs and institutions? Does he know that pollution level in Indian cities is well past the dangerous mark? Does he know that homeowners who are defrauded by builders cannot take benefit of Income Tax on loans they have taken for their dream homes? Does he know that people with confirmed airline tickets can be thrown off the plane without any reason in India? And does he know that his MPs and MLAs are eligible for lifetime pension while many government employees work grinding hours without any hope for these benefits? You can still be a BJP, Congress, BSP, SP, DMK or any party supporter and can sill question your party leadership, its your right? If you won’t, then who will?
Unfortunately today, middle class have sort of given up on the politics, people are too concerned with their families and jobs these days, we pile up college degrees and academic accolades but we hardly care about the pile of trash that accumulates in our neighborhoods and politics. Our country is too important to be left to government and politicians. So if not for your sake at least think about your children, what sort of legacy will we leave behind, its not too late yet, we still have time.
We should question our leaders and we should read, listen and research. Books, articles, journals, documentaries, podcasts should be our mode of information, not the WhatsApp. Due to a cultural indifference libraries are disappearing on an alarming pace from our cities, it’s not a good sign for our democracy. So think, contemplate and try to develop an independent faculty of reasoning, think about the state of the country, where it’s heading and what you can do to make a difference.