The time for the citizens to speak against the high-handedness of the Government is now. We must do so before there is no one left to speak for us
In the past year, the country has seen numerous developments in key sectors such as aviation, railways, oil and gas, roads and bridges, ports and shipping, telecom, power and urban infrastructure, just to name a few. Despite all the rhetoric, actual “development”, as promised by the Modi Government when it was elected to power, is yet to materialise. Nonetheless, this isn’t a statement where I mean to say that the current Government is “unsecular.” I believe this was automatically implied when the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, was passed in Parliament. For, it entails that every “illegal migrant”, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, other than the Muslims, are eligible for Indian citizenship.
Neither is there any need to elucidate on the state of the economy, which is at its worst phase with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) seeing a marked fall every quarter. The economic slowdown is in everybody’s mind. Just a few days ago, former Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian termed the economic crisis in the country as a “great slowdown” and said that it is in the “intensive care due to structural and cyclical factors.” Beyond the economy, amid a steep rise in oil prices, agrarian distress, retail inflation and unemployment have posed another set of problems. Daimler AG and Audi announced almost 20,000 job cuts in the past three weeks.
My intention is not to take pot-shots at the Government. But it dragged its name through the mud when the Delhi Police forced its way into the Jamia Millia Islamia, one of the most reputed educational institutions in the country, and brutally assaulted the students over there. Neither do I need to emphasise the fact that the Government has been lying to its citizens every since it came to power. From trumpeting a dream project of a high-speed rail, what has been delivered is that crucial sectors like education, defence and healthcare are facing its gravest crisis ever.
Today, we are living in a country where States like Jammu & Kashmir and Assam are boiling. People’s voices are being suppressed. Being apolitical is a risk one should not be taking. Because being “apolitical” or in turn “silent” is a weapon that only backfires. For silence only means being “complicit” to the happenings. When a Government maintains silence, it is considered to be an accomplice of the wrong because the reality says otherwise. When it is silent, it is used as an excuse to continue with the actions that are detestable. Had the Government actually been concerned about the problems surrounding the citizens, it would have acted maturely. I am not here to take criticism on my take of “consequences of being silent.” I am here to tell you that this is the real world.
This does not mean that one will not be labelled as an “anti-nationalist” when he/she speaks against the establishment. One also needs to understand that raising voices against the Government does not in any sense mean that one is speaking against the nation. Instead, when one tends to take a view, he/she is trying to protect the interests of the fellow citizens when actually it is the duty of the Government to do so.
If this situation persists, eventually a time will come when we will be able to call ourselves the “largest democracy” with as much credibility as modern-day China. Leaders there state that they run a “socialist democracy” alongside an authoritarian rule that strips people off their democratic rights, which is the very basis of a democratic State.
As a Muslim who has had mostly Hindu friends, I have been confiding in them, laughing with them and sharing this idea of One India, which I believed, stood as a strong evidence that we can embrace diversity and be united even as we boast of more than a billion people with different religions, dissimilar languages, individual beliefs and varied cultures. To my dismay, the Government has been trying to bring out a strange undercurrent of differences among the citizens, which in my opinion, did not exist before. One only wishes all of this ends here. It is not just the Muslims who are being isolated but even the Assamese, the Kashmiri Hindus and the students as well.
If we don’t speak even now, when the Government came after the students in Jamia, it may act against all of us. At least one can draw the line and make it realise that such barbaric ways will not be tolerated. The time to act is now.
(Writer: Md Faiz Yusuf; Courtesy: The Pioneer)