What Gives?

Space For Dissent Is Not Shrinking - Space For Consent Is Growing

Written By Chitra Subramaniam | Mumbai | Published:

India is consenting to itself, liking itself and growing up. That’s driving the “beautiful people” and their allies around the bend. For them, one side is an abyss and on the other a push back by young India asking questions and seeking answers. Now. They are armed not with stones and swords, but with the power of their vote.

Priyanka Sharma’s case is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. First her arrest by the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) for a meme, an apology sought and refused, back and forth in the Supreme court and then an unconditional release. If her arrest was out of line, what followed was revelatory – I am going to call it India’s push back.

Yes, young India is pushing back with the means and tools at its disposal. There will be hiccups and mistakes in the rough and tumble, but it is a mammoth journey that will not slide on silk. From thought to space, identity to a sense of self, everything will have to be fought for, peacefully. Most of our politicians have not yet figured out that – to do so will mean they have no place to stand. Blocking, arresting and firing people from their posts is no way to engage with India’s young who want to know so they can live and assume the change they seek.

The cacophony is feverish, even comical. It’s a battle for the soul of India says one pundit from across the Atlantic, while another says the current election is for the heart and minds of a nation that is being taken for a ride by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. All agree that free speech is in danger and there is no space for dissent! Almost all of them are hyperventilating from the safety of their gated communities – one rule for themselves and their families, another for the rest of us.

Free speech and dissent is not in danger – if it was, we wouldn’t hear about it. That’s what the Emergency was all about. Let that sink in. What is, however, in real danger are “pretty” perches constructed over generations by a handful whose only interest is self-preservation.

What the “beautiful” free-speech-is-in-danger people do not want to accept is this – millions of Indians are speaking in a million tongues and methods. They have little time for fashionable posturing, they speak the language they understand and want their voices to be heard. They are ambitious for themselves and for the country and I am sure they will not allow nonsense to block their march. Yes, India is marching.

Indians are consenting with themselves like never before. They recognise the shortcomings of their leaders and appreciate the power they hold with the vote. The very fact that politicians are turning trapeze artists, bending over backwards to please them shows that the consent spreading among Indians is hurting the secularati.

India is talking to itself and India is listening, arguing, agreeing, discarding and growing. Yes, we are talking about GST and demonetisation, development, national security, health, roads, schools – when was the last election where India went head to head with these issues? This is the stuff of nation-building. This is what will make India set itself on the path to becoming a $10 trillion economy. Henceforth, I hope every lawmaker will be held accountable for what they say and what they do. India is the world’s largest democracy with a media that is amongst the freest in the world.

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This cannot be a smooth process and the difficulties our courts now have with free speech is one indication of India wanting more of what is rightfully its own – freedom from psychological, emotional, social and economic apartheid. That chilling zone of irrelevance that the petrified few would like to preserve and from where nothing except suspicion and despair can grow. That failed playground of a few which is now up for grabs by an India that will go to court if it has to so historical wrongs can be set right and India and its institutions is returned to Indians.

Education levels are going up and people are not dumb. They no longer want to live the life of permanent beggars looking out for doles and compensations that keeps people frozen permanently at lower scales of growth as ordained by a few. They are willing to work hard and thrive. They are tolerant and law-abiding – don’t push them by arresting them for a meme or a cartoon. This is the new normal and our tired politicians, babus and mostly illegally rich people will have to cope with it if they want to remain relevant. The choice is theirs.

India has chosen. It will claim more and more space in every way as it grows. It wants accountability, responsibility, positivity and growth. It is consenting with itself.

(The views and opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article needn't reflect the views of Republic TV/ Republic World/ ARG Outlier Media Pvt. Ltd.)

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