Nationhood is a contract that we agree to. When we identify as citizens of any particular country, we agree to recognize it’s collective idea. In return we enrich it with our participation through the elective process, and abide by it’s laws. This contract is the basis for our stay, and protection by the state. The moment we dissent against the shared idea of a nation, we no longer have the moral right to enjoy pleasures of the nationhood.
Then what should a disgruntled dissenter do?
To start with, they can continue to participate in the elective process by choosing the right representatives. If they can’t find anyone to represent themselves, they can contest elections themselves. If they feel they are completely at odds with the shared idea, and would not get much support in elections, they can choose to find another nation that is more in tune with their idea of the nation. Or, they could make themselves indispensable, enrich the nation with their contribution, thus gaining more influence, and then attempt to seed their ideas again. Sadly, none of the prominent ‘dissenters’ of India are enriching her with contributions beyond their dissent. The hollow, impotent dissent has no takers. However, they are not the only one who do not understand dissent. The government of the day, doesn’t either.
How the state should approach dissent
The idea of the state has moved from being a ‘parent’ to a ‘facilitator’. The responsibility thus on those that run the nation, is not to crush any voice of dissent, but to simply facilitate means of intellectual purification. A dissenter must be asked to validate their dissent with actions, as the state provides the means. For example, in the context of J&K, it could be asking the dissenters to build model of governance, and provide a model village for implementation of the model. If the dissenter rises to the occasion, then confidence on state is built up, if they don’t then they lose face.
Unfortunately, we are at a strange Mexican standoff as far as the idea of dissent is concerned. Those who employ it, are not judicious in it’s use, and those who are to tackle it, are caught up with indecision. In Yuval Noah Harari’s thought – provoking book – ‘Homo Sapiens’. He remarks how all the nations are but figment of our imaginations, and depend on our willingness to accept the idea as a reality. Coming days will tell us exactly how willing we as a nation are to accept a uniform idea.
BJP has been appropriating all national heroes India has. Since the agenda has moved from being simply pro-hindu to being pro-hindu + progressive, this kind of symbolic appropriation is nothing unexpected. Hindu upper castes feel in control, they are love the spin BJP gives to traditional vitriolic. Right wing think-tank is continuously at work to create progressive sounding rhetoric that changes little on ground, except polarizing the masses further. There is one key problem that BJP would love to address, but haven’t dared so far. Reservations.
I know people will point out what Yogi Adityanath has done in UP, and I must admit, on paper it looks like a good move. However, no reservations will not bridge the gap between lower castes and upper castes. It will only fuel the anger against ‘savarnas’ or upper castes for taking away priviledge that the community had got accustomed to. Also, it would be unfair for really underpriviledged communities, many of whom are even now marginalized. In many ways, this is a catch 22 situation with seemingly no answer. If you don’t give reservations, underdeveloped communities suffer, if you do, then the bias against lower castes strenghthens. Handing out reservations to economically underdeveloped is often pitched as a way out, but in a corrupt country like ours, how difficult it is to falsify economic state? Many of our politicians do not even have a crore in their bank accounts after all!
The only way out I see is offering reservations to progeny of inter-caste, and inter-religion couples. This could make a marriage in lower caste desirable for many upper castes if it means consolidation of wealth. Sure many fourth or fifth generation ‘lower-castes’, who are under-privileged would benefit, as they would be closest to what upper caste hindus find attractive. Yet, a state sanctioned benefit for breaking down caste barriers could have long term positive repercussions in annihilation of caste from India.
The question is, who will bell the cat?
So I recently stumbled upon this great music from Oh Hiroshima! They are a Swedish band specializing in post-rock. I had no idea it was a thing, but it definitely exists, and blows your mind. Perhaps I would not be drooling over it, but I would definitely listen to it on long trips, and wouldn’t mind playing a record when I am jogging, or working on something (like this blog post). It’s amazing how effective it is in helping you tune out.
However, if even for a moment you need to plug-in to the soul of the earth, even if for a fleeting moment if you want to travel to the stars, then there is nothing better than progressive psychedelic rock.
Happy tripping \m/
My love, my dearest,
sultry goddess of my red seas
For you I should sail a thousand ships
and feed you the manna from the sky
But I am mortal, a rather incompetent one
So I struggle to tell you how much I adore you,
How my dreams and days converge when you are with me,
I struggle to tell you how I wait for the next meeting with you
But, know this, that I love you, like the last bloom of spring is loved,
Silently, and without drama, lest it might cause it to fall
by Harshad Karmalkar