Tathagata Satpathy … OPIATE

THE LOSS OF lives and destruction of property during the current countrywide protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Act is extremely saddening. The Act, per se, makes no secret of its intentions. But its ambiguity is the cause for discomfort and is precisely placed in a way that touches raw nerves of the Moslem community which is easily given to emotions.

There are marches in the name of CAA even in remote villages and people are raising ‘aazadi’ slogans. This desire for freedom (aazadi) is obviously from a section of the population that feels cornered and hunted. While global sentiments, especially in the Western world as also in countries like China, are predominantly anti-Moslem, the simple geographic location of India makes it a sandwiched nation which can ill afford such blatant human rights violations. The government did allow things to boil over before it took resolute action that can easily be defined as authoritarian and brutal towards anti-establishment sentiments. This exhibition of intolerance is not something new for the present -day dispensation.

The fault with the entire matter is not who has paid for the stirred up emotions with their lives. It is certainly the man on the street who has been shot dead by government bullets and who probably does not know the full import or implications of the Act. The batons and teargas shells have fallen on the masses that have risen against the feeling of oppression that seems to envelope this whole country now.

Many amongst us are supporting these politically short-sighted moves of the present-day government. As also equally large numbers are opposing these self-destructive methods that are being adopted by the state. To understand the issue, it is important to distance ourselves from emotions. Mainly, it ought to be from emotions of religion. As of now, many Indians are clapping in glee that it will be solely Moslems of India who shall have the fury of hell rain down on them because of what the present-day administration is doing. While that may not be entirely wrong, the equally strong opposite side also exists. Let us not get into the argument that this government is desperate to divert attention of the masses from real life problems such as that of a crashed economy, joblessness, failed Banking system, desperate agricultural situation and a plethora of other issues that are crippling the nation and will have a long-term impact on its future. Let us analyse this NRC-CAA issue as stand alone.

It is an accepted fact that all government programs and policies are, perforce, to be implemented through the government machinery. That clearly should make everyone aware that their local Block Development Officer, the Officer In-Charge of the local Police Station, the local Municipal executives, the Tahsildar and a few others such bureaucrats are the true government interface for them when laws are being implemented. That truth should be enough for any average Indian to sit up alarmed. And every educated or uneducated Indian, notwithstanding Hindoo or Moslem, knows how efficient, corruption free and humane these government officers generally are. There is no need to expand on that subject.
Now, there is this all-new National Population Register (NPR) that is coming up for implementation prior to the Census of 2021 which will then be linked to the National Register of Citizens which in turn will eventually run along with the Citizenship Amendment Act process.
All these stringent laws seem very attractive to a certain segment of the population. They feel as they are Hindoos, they will remain above water and keep floating while all non Hindoos will sink and have a terrible demise. The reality may turn out very sour later, when it would be too late to repent and change. The raw deals will come from these very government officers whom we see operating around us on a daily basis. If we choose to close our eyes, none can help us. Otherwise, if we wish to remain practical, all of us must realize that handing over such immense powers as deciding whether you and I are Indian citizens to these corrupt inefficient and merciless bureaucrats could turn out to be our biggest folly, as a society, ever.
Imagine your local police station in-charge getting the authority to decide whether you are entitled to occupy your home and land, or not. Do these low-level bureaucrats decide on the merits of cases now? They do not. Most or a large number of them are Hindoos. Does that make them deal fairly and honestly with Hindoos? No, they do not. How can we expect they will change overnight and think of being fair and honest and generally social do-gooders just because some perverted vision of religious superiority has enabled certain laws to be passed? In a democracy, elections do change the ruling party. Man being mortal, everyone goes with time.

Sadly, laws are burdened on us citizens for ever. The Indian bureaucracy will outlive all these politicians and their servile followers. They will be the final arbiters of whether we and our children belong to this land or not. Many among those supporting these new laws may very easily become preys. History shows that belonging to a particular faith or political party provides no security against harassment and death. For instance, during Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia, the armed forces had many of the ruling party leaders killed. It is time to think, not just as Hindoos, but for India. Let us not support a perilous path.

–The writer was formerly the Chief Whip of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Parliament, representing the Dhenkanal seat from Odisha. –IHN-NN


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s