Bol ki Lab Azad Hain Tere: Expressions of a ‘Pseudo-Sickular’

Ruchika Sharma

Ruchika SharmaRuchika teaches history at undergraduate level in the Delhi University. We are publishing her personal facebook note here.

She can be contacted at https://twitter.com/catchruch

How would you feel if you live in a country where the newly elected premier has been famous for attack on the community you belong to?

How would you feel if you are a woman and the party that comes to power is famous for it’s regressive and anti- women stance? For example, it is against wearing jeans, pre-marital sex, use of mobile phones for women, inter-caste/religious marriages, marrying within same Gotra, love marriages and what not?

How would you feel as somebody who belongs to/relates to/is a sympathiser or empathiser of the LGBT community, of the party that comes to power wants to move a bill criminalising homosexuality?

How would you feel if the first thing your favourite Professor said in his lecture was that a good historian never agrees, but always analyses; and now you are told, ‘hmmmm what a naysayer, intellectual snob YOU are being by expressing yourself!’

How would you feel that the same social social media where people are there to express opinions, now has to be a space to show allegiance to the new ruling party and not as a space of free expression?
And no, Congress is no hero! They were equally regressive, and insensitive. But there was no FEAR of this kind. People are terrified of speaking because it is not the party by the party sympathisers who threaten you, demean you and say nastiest things possible. And if you reply back, you a re a bookish, ‘liberal’ intellectual who knows nothing.

I heard another fascinating bit, that ‘we’ (if there is a we), are scared to loose our privileges, the cultural ones. Excuse me, i am a non-permanent employee of a University, I have given 8 precious years to a University where i teach with all of myself and cannot afford to be a member of a cultural group like IHC or IIC! So what privileges.

What i do not want to and will not give up is my freedom of speech. That is what my India stands for, and i have a right to express myself, just as anyone else. Please read about the Indian constitution, and how freedom of expression is our fundamental right. Without that our democracy is lifeless and so are we!

16th of May

har Har ModiI don’t know about you, but i surly feel defeated. It’s not only a victory of majority, it is also a victory of PR firms, advertising,hoards of un-accounted black money, masks, cartoons figurines, media houses kowtowing to political pressure, flouting the EC norms, making xenophobic statements and worse, majority people accepting it or being swayed by it. May be we will never know! And you know why,because all of that is being given to us under the cloak of development. What exactly does it mean, no body has cared to explain and nobody has dared ask! It is like a magic wand, if we ask too many questions it may disappear. So let’s follow the pied-piper, even if we are all going to drown in a river, it is musical as of now.

I blame Congress for it, for so many reasons. They became snobbish and elitist. The defeat in Delhi was a sign of times to come for them, and even then there was pin-drop silence. There were social welfare schemes, but too late. It was like a band-aid was offered for an injury and that did not suffice. We needed answers, and our PM refused to speak. He has gone down, and so has Congress. Corruption is not their problem but they did not do much when Modi’s men pointed it out. When Modi shouted the prices of Onions, Congress didn’t remind them that it were the same prices that had brought the last BJP govt down. Nor were there any attempts to save face, such was their confidence.

In midst of it all, AAP seemed like a whiff of change. I had been skeptical of their views on gender and other social issues. The tone was set for me the day Kejriwal decided to contest against Modi and declared that Communalism is a bigger enemy than corruption. At this moment the middle class might cry over 3-Idiots, but a promise of’development’ is all they need for it to be ‘well’. The ultimate aim is to be Chetan Bhagat and Shiv Khera, intellectually and morally bankrupt but minting money. That is precisely what this election been all about – Money. The Saris with Modi print have taken over the market and people are happy. A political party has a sold a man and people are buying it as a dream. All that India stood for has been put into  back-burner, and we are living a dream of business communities. India is not a business community. They are not the ones to have fought for independence and they are the ones who are buying land not realising we are an agriculture based country forever. Now it is the opposite. I kept reading how urbane India wants Modi,because they want concrete jungles, and don’t care about secularism(we already have it), social issues (what is that, my daughter wears jeans), gender equality (same as last) and have zero concern for the lower classes (haan to let us have development no!).

We are comfortable with one-person being pivot of a party and now a government. He has removed what BJP has been all about. The right-wing designs backed by the corporate is very dangerous.

The India media has a role to play in it. The negative campaign against Kejriwal, no time for him on TV and a mellowed down Arnab Goswami in front of Modi is no coincidence. So here we have a country where advertising has a sold a man to be our PM, we don’t know much about him, people have turned against Kejriwal because he ‘foolishly’ protested and gave up CM-ship for his ideals and are happy with a one man party being in power (Modi says he will also be the party chief apart from being a PM).

Secular is pronounced as ‘sickular’ here and people tell us that BJP has softened. Gujarat riots are always shooed with a reference to Sikh pogrom of 1984, almost as if to justify it and people have opnely told anti-BJP people to go to Pakistan and called them Anti-national (forgetting that Modi’s favourite Patel had declared RSS as anti-national) and now we would have a religious sermon-giver as head of our nation (wondering had he been from any other religion BJP would have called him an outsider, with no respect for Indian history). Had Indian freedom movement been fought around now, we may actually be happy with the ‘development’ the British had brought us.Who gives a damn about independence! Give us Honey Singh, Chetan Bhagat and some development, bas party yun hi chaalegi!

Well Modi has no reverence for history. He has messed it up every time he has opened his mouth to deliver a written speech, but that we disregard it would cost us heavily. We have been mocking the Congress always but whether BJP-ruled government would let us mock them and be informed and critical citizens, and not turn us into a sedated-quiet mass who would have no freedom of speech, only time would tell. As of now i am glad for Kejriwal for making us believe that congress’s skewed up secularism is not the only way and that sometimes the fight itself is the victory of the self. We shall continue to live fearlessly and remember that spirits cannot be defeated. Let’s hope that we continue to love people and remember that it is them who form nation and not vice-versa.

  • vinaya

    Hi Ruchika! Thanks so much! Just my thoughts… I am so upset about how we have crossed the moral line and what may lie ahead sends shivers down my spine. 🙁

  • Sunil

    Why my comments are being deleted? It seems that you welcome only those who believe in baseless articles like the one above.

  • I dont agree with you. First of all, Narendra Modi has been declared innocent by the highest court of the country. He had no role in Godhra riots and has been unjustly bashed for years. This too is mam with all due respect a lie propagated by the media. read madhu kishwars book on this, he busts the myth. It was not just the media, but actual results in governance terms in Gujrat. Migrant labourers carried word of mouth to their home state.