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  Opinion   Oped  05 May 2018  Stop being scared of bullies, don’t be silent

Stop being scared of bullies, don’t be silent

Irreverent, provocative, opinionated... Shobhaa De has been challenging status quo for four decades... and is at her best when she punctures inflated egoes. Readers can send feedback to
Published : May 5, 2018, 6:29 am IST
Updated : May 5, 2018, 6:29 am IST

Creating a fear psychosis to control one billion minds, is wishful thinking — a fantasy more than a policy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo: PTI)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo: PTI)

There comes a time in the destiny of a nation, when citizens look around at the mess and .... and ... laugh! The other option is to cry. But laughter is a less damaging alternative. So laughter wins! If outsiders find Indians across the country laughing for no apparent reason, they can blame the heat, or they can accept the ground reality of what the country is going through. It’s beyond anything one could have envisioned even two years ago.

At that time, there was apprehension, sure. But there was also hope.


Today, it is as if V.S. Naipaul is writing a sequel to An Area of Darkness, and everybody is left wondering how much darker things are going to get as we inch closer to 2019 election — an election that will decide the destiny of over a billion people. Staggering number, right? But look at the irony — the strength of that billion-plus is worth nothing at the moment. We have allowed the bullying might of a few hundred to take over our lives and tell us how to live and what to think? Every single day, the story gets more and more bizarre. And the feelings of helplessness get multiplied, as people flounder, unsure of what the immediate future holds.


For most citizens, the fabricated, manipulated “moral issues” are not particularly relevant. Apart from hard-core bhakts in certain belts, nobody is all that interested in the Ram Mandir debate — whether or not it gets built. Or when the first brick is going to be laid. If NaMo and his team are thinking of making this the big election issue, they’d better do a rethink for they are way off the mark. If the team is banking on playing the Hindu card, sorry, that won’t work either. Even the most devout Hindu is embarrassed by this new version of an ancient philosophy. Practitioners don’t want to deal with aggressively imposed rules about what it means to be Hindu. As a Hindu woman myself, I have always believed my religious practices are strictly my own. Nobody has the right to qualify or judge any aspect of those beliefs. Neither do I have to accept the completely loony theories about the existence of the Internet during the Mahabharat and similar nonsense.


At the moment, we have a few chief ministers who are an embarrassment. We should boldly challenge them and ask for their immediate removal for propagating such rubbish. Why doesn’t anybody do it? The answer is obvious: people are terrified! Listen up! It’s time to stop being terrified of these puny bullies. Kyunki, all bullies are essentially cowards. Take them on, and see them run.

You cannot administer a country as gigantic and diverse as ours, adopting fear as the main strategy. Creating a fear psychosis to control one billion minds, is wishful thinking — a fantasy more than a policy. So guys, really! Put away those lathis and dandas. We are not scared of you. Okay? In fact, the lot of you look rather silly, even comical, strutting about issuing dhamkis right and left.


When we stop being scared and cease to worry about repercussions, and start questioning authority and power, we will be sending out a huge signal to not just the present administration, but any political party of the future that assumes citizens are petrified, malleable, gullible and can be brow beaten. Try us!

Strange how suddenly and dramatically, the fall from grace took place for this administration. I guess the final nail in the coffin was the startling revelation provided by Cambridge Analytica. It took a while to sink in, but when it did! Wow! We woke up to the bitter truth — India had been had! Taken to the cleaners. Deceived and manipulated into accepting lies, half-truths and manufactured data. Nobody likes being taken for a ride.


And today, that ride is turning out to be a really expensive one for NaMo. My own eyes should have opened even wider after I met a bunch of desi techies on the West Coast of America. These were extraordinarily savvy folks — successful and ambitious. One of them started bragging about how efficiently his team had handled the entire exercise of “positioning” Narendra Modi, before and after the watershed election in 2014. I was pretty fascinated but should have paid closer attention to the boasts. The man was taking full credit for the “awesome” success of the NaMo circus at Madison Square Garden on September 28, 2014 — the infamous “rock star” moment that made us believe we had a leader who would successfully translate his personal charisma into something concrete for India’s development.


Today, we know the entire event was a “made for television” tamasha, fine-tuned to the last detail, much like the promotional coverage shot by top professionals for mega Bollywood Awards’ Nites. What we didn’t realise then was that we were being fed carefully edited clips of an entertainment — not political — show, with a megalomaniac in the starring role!

Now that we know the horrible truth, what are we going to do about it? To start with, we need to readjust our personal moral compasses and ask ourselves a few basic questions about the future. Is this the India we want? Do we even recognise this great country we have loved for 71 years? If the answers to both questions are “no”, then it’s time to do something about setting things right.


And that something does not automatically translate into voting for the Congress in 2019. We have not forgotten nor forgiven the countless lapses, the abysmal corruption and the myriad cruelties associated with that party in the past. Can a zebra change its stripes and still be called a zebra?

Before 2014, who had even heard of Narendra Modi? So, do not despair. There is someone who is definitely out there, waiting to step in and do the right thing.

It’s fine not to know who that someone could be at this stage. But it’s certainly not fine to remain passive, remain silent, and not question.

If we keep quiet now, India is doomed. Those cunning men on the West Coast must be thinking of fresh ways to repackage a stale product. Let’s show them we are smarter! We are looking for fresh, wholesome and healthy, okay?


Tags: ram mandir issue, cambridge analytica