Saturday, 20 February 2016

The JNU debate- What Is Democracy?

In a general sense democracy is freedom, right? So If we are in a democratic country, we are free. We are free to live where we want, free to take the job we want, study what we want, follow the religion we want and we are free to speak our mind. There are no if-s and but-s in freedom. If you are free, you are free. There are no conditions apply.

Dissent is the backbone of freedom I would say. If we can’t disagree, if we can’t stand against something we find wrong, if we can’t questions laws, if we can’t shout at the system, are we truly free?

In my mind a strong democracy is based on free flowing opinions. If a democracy can’t stand opposing views, by definition does it still remain a democracy? If I stand against the system, do I become anti-national? What does my disagreeing with any system, any law or any decision has to do with my love for my country. It still remains my country. I still love it. Do we never disagree with our parents? Have we never spoken against our parents? Have we never walked out of a room following a disagreement with our parents? Or even with our friends, or anyone else? Does it mean we don’t love them? Does it mean we don’t understand what sacrifices they have made for us? Does it mean we don’t want to live in the same house? Does it mean we don’t cherish the relationship? No it doesn’t!

Then why when we express dissent against any decision by law, we automatically are labelled as anti-national? Then why if we stand merely for freedom of speech, we are told we are not patriotic enough?

I love my country. I am a concerned citizen. I know my rights and my duties (At least some part of it). I am thankful for the freedom my constitution and law provides me. And I still don’t agree with so many things happening in India. I will question it and I will fight for my right to question and as a matter of fact, I stand by anyone’s right to speak. So I stand by JNU when it comes to freedom of speech. They have the right to question and show dissent. By questioning a decision, they don’t become anti-nationals and neither do I, by simply being on their side.

But I also believe there is a line which is drawn by every individual even when exercising their democratic rights. I believe Afzal Guru was a terrorist and whatever happened was right. I don’t care if his family couldn’t meet him. I don’t care if he was made a scape goat. I just don’t care! I care about the innocent lives lost. I care about what the attacks did to my country. This is where I draw the line. If the person standing against me still calls him a martyr, I will get angry. I will be furious. BUT I will walk out of the discussion. Why? Because my opinion is based on my experiences in life and I believe anyone else’s opinion would also be based on their experiences, which will be different than mine. I don’t think opinions are driven only through religion. I will always give anyone benefit of doubt; at the least I won’t question their love for their country just because of one opinion or their religion. Why is it so difficult to understand and follow?

India is a country of Indians, not hindu, not muslim, not any religion. If we are Indian citizens, we have the same rights. We belong to the tri-color, not to saffron, not to green!

Note of caution: This is my opinion about the issue. Readers are welcome to share their opinions but I have low tolerance for rudeness. Please be polite! Thank you

Read more about the JNU controversy here

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Never Too Late!

Getting to a place of comfort can be uncomfortable who would have known, thought Rashmi. It was the same place where her life had started some 40 years back. The memory was quite vivid in her mind even after so many years. She had worn a red sari as customary even for a church wedding. She had told her mom that she hated sarees and wanted to wear a blue dress. Sarees had never been her thing. She had always been in love with long fitted dresses. How pretty her friend Cherry had looked at her wedding she had thought. But obviously who would have listened to an 18 year old then. She had worn the red saree and the heavy makeup, against her wish. She was told what to do and she had done it. Everything had gone as planned. She didn’t even remember looking at Prateek during the whole wedding ritual. It was not important. Where she was looking was important. She was told to look down, so she had looked down. When she was leaving her parents house, she was told by her mom to follow her husband’s orders like she had followed her parents’. She was told that the house she had grown up was not hers anymore. She had soaked up every word like a sponge.
That is what she had believed for next 22 years. She had a good marriage. She had followed Prateek like a shadow; hardly ever did she speak up. They had a picture perfect family, till the day of the accident. Prateek was crossing the road when the truck came from the wrong side. He had no chance. He had left behind a successful business and two kids who were living abroad. They had come and left within a few days.
Suddenly Rashmi was all alone for the first time in her life. She was 40 years old and she had never stepped out of her house alone. It was a tough fight after that. She took her time. Of course she was scared. Everything was new but everything was exciting. She took charge of the business. People around her were surprised at her business acumen. Within a few years the business was making more profits than ever before. She had wings. She was flying. And that’s how she met Raman. He was working with one of the competitors. They met during one of the pitches. She immediately liked him and had her HR poach him to her company. This was some 12 years back. They had been working together since then. She didn’t remember exactly when she fell for him, especially because he was 11 years her junior. Only thing she was sure was that they were perfect together; like two pieces of a puzzle who belonged together.
And after living together for a decade they had decided to take the leap of faith. Now she was standing at the altar, waiting for her cue. Soft breeze was blowing; it felt like heaven was singing for her. The white of orchid around her was filling her with a sense of tranquillity she had never felt before. Her fitted, long, blue dress was something she had fallen in love with at the first sight. It was just right. Everything was just right. It didn’t matter if her children were against her decision. They were living their lives and she was living hers. It didn’t matter if more people were against it than in favour of it. It didn’t matter that she was 58. Nothing mattered except what she felt in her heart. She knew this was just the first day of the rest of her life. And suddenly the church band started playing “here comes the bride....”
This was her cue. Her cue to get busy living or get busy dying!