If you don’t know what I’m going to speak about, you must have been living under a rock. For the past few weeks (it might be less, it just feels like forever), we have been swamped by the JNU protests and the aftermath and everyone’s opinions and views and doctored tapes! I have been very careful to not talk about this or comment on Facebook or anything. But when at lunchtime my colleagues started about how the students these days are so anti-national and why are they supporting JNU and so on, I could not shut up. I naturally regretted it minutes later and thankfully I did not say too much. If I had, it would have gone something like this.
If the students of JNU did in fact call Afzal Guru a martyr and asked for the destruction of India, I can hardly say I see eye to eye with them. I would hope for my own children to have more moderation in their views and better behaviour. And justice and common sense. I say this while understanding that there are different points of view. There are those that would look on Guru as we see Bhagat Singh – though he never killed anyone. But having said all that, what is freedom of speech if not the right to disagree? Offend even. If we are all free to speak only as long as we say nice things about each other, well even the greatest dictatorships have that sort of freedom. I could dislike the JNU folks wholeheartedly, disagree with them completely, but if I do not allow for their right to express themselves, as long as those views are not criminal(which is where the sedition laws become significant), saying I support freedom of speech is rather meaningless.
So, here we are. With a bunch of free speakers we disagree with. A bully state that ruthlessly crushes dissent. An opportunistic opposition that sees it’s chance and stirs things up, regardless of the consequences. And a gullible public that preens over it’s own nationalistic fervour – which only translates to calling the other guy anti national.
I’m starting to hate that word, but if you are a true patriot, a true ‘national’, how about trying some nation building for a change? You could, I don’t know:
- Generate employment
- Pay someone a fair wage – think of that next time you bargain with your maid or the vegetable seller
- Teach a child. Help your’s house help’s children with their homework. Remember their parents probably can’t.
- Pay someone’s fees. An educated India is a better India
- Buy someone food. Or a blanket. A little charity never hurt anyone.
- Plant a tree. Car pool. Clean up the air.
- Plant a fruit tree – there are drives to help farmers self sustain.
- Compost – keep your waste out of those illegal village landfills
- Stop using plastic. Save our planet for our kids.
- Save water
That was a quick list. I’m sure there are many places to go to prove your patriotism that are probably better than beating someone up. Oh and patriotism and jingoism? Totally different concepts.