The End of Liberty

“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”
In circa 1792 A.D., they formed the Republic of France. Some million men and women, joined by a common bond of desperation, oppressed by dogmas of class injustices, and united by the brotherhood of suffering, woke up at once and conquered the nation – their one, collective roar silencing centuries of dominance. In the ruins of what was once one of the most prosperous monarchies of the world stood one of the most open and liberal societies. The English may have given us the word ‘Freedom’, but would the world know what it meant, had it not been for the French?

That was then – 200 years ago.

In India, in the year 2007 A.D., rises a man. He is a single entity, formed because his mentor denies him what he feels is his rightful throne. As such, denouncing a man he claims he respects as much as the Maker, he forms his own organisation. Expected to be a force to reckon with, the forthcoming elections show that neither he nor his vision of restructuring and reforming the society, find any takers in the electorate. Politicos that were once lining up to get his support for them in the Assembly suddenly desert him.

Thus, resorted to being a non-entity, his only claim to fame being his famous surname, he masterminds a political coup that now, finally, finds him in the docks of law. A political coup that has made him the most feared, as well as I daresay for fear of prosecution, disgusted name in the state of Maharashtra. His organization is the most infamous political party – and in a system as downtrodden as ours, that is something – on the Western Coast, and India, the butt of a million jokes. All this, in addition to making him the most vile and poisonous goonda, in recent memory to have taken political centrestage – and again, in a system as downtrodden as ours, that is something. In a matter of no time, Mumbai has battlelines drawn all over it. you are either a Manoos, or you are one of the ‘outsiders’ – fit only to be torn apart and shred to pieces: families raped, lives destroyed, dreams mutilated.

I needn’t name names.

What is so distraught about the above? Well, for one, I find it an amazing piece of information. It serves, in my mind, as a very sweet reminder to us that for all the boasting we may do of ‘India having arrived’ and all the spending in our malls and multiplexes to convince the world that India is shining, this is the reality. What the French achieved nearly 250 years ago, we are not even trying to now – and this after the struggle we have gone through to gain a national identity in the first place. The same was also the case a couple of years ago when the Central Government introduced the system for reservations in institutes of higher education.

60 years ago, we proved to the world that despite our differences, we could stand together as a nation. They disbelieved us, and now we are busy proving that our forefathers were wrong. No. India is a collection of tribes – tribes that come together to sing and dance when we manage to win trophies in cricket (and that happens once in a blue moon); that come together to raze buildings when someone says something that is contrary to popular perception; that reads in newspapers about increasing levels of teenage pregnancies and takes pride in it as if it we have solved the Tower of Hanoi or eradicated Polio (something that even most of the ‘developing’ world has). Otherwise, we will kill each other in the name of anything that can be named, and then boast to the world that we are merely celebrating each other’s differences. That is what happens when Biharis are lynched out of Maharashtra, or Christians raped and destroyed in Orissa – we are merely celebrating that we are different. It is merely a coincidence that this celebration usually involves destruction, beating to death, burning to nothingness, and rape..

So now, when a court of law tries to ask our celebrated leader as to why he believes he can make such comments against national integrity and get away with it, he simply shows how – by getting associated goondas, by holding the nation’s financial capital to ransom and destroying all that he wants.

And well, if at all one has not really noticed, where is the nation’s leadership? Do we even have one? I don’t think so. What we do have are political mites that can suck the lifeblood out of a nation in the name of enriching it; that can divide a nation in to countless factions to ensure electoral victory; that can boast to the world that we are from a developed world; and lavishly display the occurrences of the previous paragraph on a silver salver as proof of the same. There is no concern for anything domestic – atleast with anything domestic that has anything to do with improving the situation of that “common man”. The common man, who is beyond the scope of ‘foreign direct investment’, ‘globalisation’, ‘stock market boom’, etc. and who still is unfortunate enough to live outside the urbania of our country. As such, we see a situation wherein a single man, driven more by ambitions of political dominance than those of hate, has divided and broken the backbone of a nation. He has managed to call ‘bandhs’ in Maharashtra, arrange rampages in universities in Patna and Lucknow, have road-blockings in New Delhi, and scare people – “North Indians” in Maharashtra, and “Maharashtrians” everywhere…

At such a time such as this, I recall the words of a certain person called Iqbal. Now, if you don’t recall, this bloke fought through most of the struggle for Independence like an unemployed twerp, was stupid enough to vouch for young men and women who laid their lives on the altar of freedom, sung in madness for the equality of religions with his brethren Hindus and Sikhs, and was unfortunate enough to be a moron of such capacity to have penned down the following verse:

“Hindi hain hum,
Watan hai Hindustan hamara…”

Abhimanyu Jain

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