The first week of January had been tense in the state of Maharashtra. Following the bandh called by Prakash Ambedkar which brought almost all major cities in the state to a grinding halt the question we all should be asking is ‘whom does this bandh benefit?’ The sequence of events that led to the bandh in itself is one that raises suspicions of anti-national elements being at work. We had ultra-leftists Jignesh Mevani and Umar Khalid (who is connected with naxals) inciting people through their speeches in an event organised to celebrate the so called victory of Dalits in the battle of Koregaon 200 years ago.
Fuelling caste wars
The biggest misfortune of this country is that even after 70 years of independence narrow casteist identity wins over national identity. Politicians are here only for their selfish gains. Admittedly there was a time when untouchability was practiced in the country and many reformers fought against caste discrimination. These reformers came from all sections of the society including the upper castes. Today, however, we can see that leaders are more bothered about power and their own interests being served rather than serving the people they claim to represent. If that was not the case then those belonging to backward castes, who were given many benefits to bring them at par with the progressive sections of the society, should have progressed by now; seven decades is a long time. If we see caste wars even today then that is the monumental failure of the leaders of these sections of the society who have been serving only themselves.
Whose loss is it?
The bandh saw violence in many places with tremendous damage to public and private property. Whom should we hold responsible for this? These people who have been hired by political parties to create ruckus might get a few hundred rupees and possibly food but what about daily wage labourers whose income depends on whether they have worked or not on that particular day. Remember, these are people who live from day to day and probably would not have any money to feed their families at the end of the day.
Misusing our rights
Indian constitution guarantees several rights but with them comes duties and responsibilities. Often times we find that responsibilities and duties are forgotten and anti-national elements have been misusing freedom of speech and expression to incite mob violence. I’m sure neither our freedom fighters nor those who wrote our constitution envisioned an India where their ideas would be twisted and presented to take advantage of people’s ignorance.
A democratic setup has several drawbacks one of them being the inability to use force with an iron hand. Some amount of strictness, without being politically correct, is necessary to rein in anti-national elements. Nothing and no one is above the country; narrow political interests cannot and should not supersede national integration and progress at any cost. Surely our elected representatives are duty bound to ensure peace and harmony but at the end of the day we too have some responsibility. It is only when we allow them to take advantage that political leaders will use us for their narrow ends.
The road ahead
Why is it so easy for politicians to emotionally blackmail people? The answer is very simple; we are divided by caste, religion, creed, language, sect and sub-sect and so on and so forth. When the electorate is divided and directionless, the work of those wanting to take advantage of people’s naivety becomes easier. The day we rise above our differences to ask for better facilities and better quality of life, politicians will stop taking advantage of us. The time to bring about the change is now, today, at this moment if we don’t want forced bandhs and riots that only cause damage to our public property. In a progressive society protests cannot be an excuse to fuel caste wars and impede progress of the country at large. Our freedom fighters did not give their lives for us to bring them disrepute by being divided amongst ourselves. Let us not insult their sacrifice but rather let us pay a tribute to them and their sacrifice by being united in the face of incitement. Nationalism should triumph and India should always be the winner.