By Ananya Guha
The Cauvery water dispute dates back to three decades, resulting in violent ethnic clashes. This time too after the Supreme Court verdict that more water be let into Tamil Nadu, there were violent attacks against anything Tamil and vehicles of Tamil Nadu registration were also not spared. This incident in Karnataka highlights many points about Indian democracy. That it is ethnic democracy. That the democracy remains within the boundary walls of one’s language or religion and that, commonalities really don’t matter in a country priding itself in a mythic unity. True water and land, in a country like India is a source of wealth and livelihood but all the action took place in Bengalaru, the IT capital. More often than not it is the classes and the educated who foment trouble and add the proverbial fuel to fire.
Secondly it is known that the waters of a river flow through many areas. The Brahmaputra is originally sourced at Tsangpo. Those who took the Supreme Court decision amiss did not consider environmental factors that agriculture is the mainstay of living in that part of the country which we ceremoniously calls ”South India”. Earlier all decisions pertaining to the Cauvery waters took into account the states involved. However the inter linkages of water transportation must be considered geographically. The Supreme Court’s decision was unbiased, taking into account the cognizant reality of a country. However all caution was thrown to the winds, by people who profess solidarity of a diverse country. If there are so many debates on Nationalism, how will we counter or condone such acts of violence and gross impropriety of laws? The Supreme Court’s rejoinder to these actions has been admonitory and rightly so. Can we take the law into our hands, in brazen manner like this? What are we upholding, cause for immediacy, our immediate gains? The debates on Nationalism must also focus on this kind of short sighted and narrow parochialism. Ethnocentric feelings leading to disruption and law and order, must be a calling.
Thirdly the cynosure must be the country, the prevailing laws and the prevailing linguistic groups who are engaged in day to day living. Recently an ousted Governor questioned the veracity of a Presidential decree. In this land we get away with murder, do things with impunity by inciting people and then commit murder on lines of caste, class, language and religion. It is a despoiled history that we have inherited. It is not a question of a facetious remark like fighting over water. Water and land are sources of an eco system, to be harnessed for proper and lawful earnings. But there cannot be mindless killings or oppression as Nandigram and Singur have politically and historically proven.
The myths and symbols of a nation still in throes of transition, unsparingly and quixotically continues to elude us. The spaces of nationalism continue to shrink.
About the Author: Ananya S Guha lives and writes from Shillong in North East India.