Political opinion in India is more polarized than ever before today.
There are varied conversations happening in every corner of every state, every street and practically at every nukkad & tapri, over a cup of hot steaming coffee or chai. Intellectual, humorous, serious concerns shared by one and many, via multiple platforms – print, radio, and of course social media! Everyone seems to be the Sad(h)guru of the moment, with a “I know it all” attitude and “my opinion matters”.
Let’s pause and think what is happening beyond today’s headlines. Young people today are concerned about the world they are inheriting. They are talking about diverse topics from climate change to gender parity, to plastic in our oceans to democracy. And social media gives them a more amplified voice and they are not going to be shut down. And that’s not just in India, that’s the global truth. Beyond the issues made popular by youth, basic developmental issues continue to plague our country. Two-thirds of people in India live in poverty: 68.8% of the Indian population lives on less than $2 a day. Over 30% even have less than $1.25 per day available – they are considered extremely poor. This makes the Indian subcontinent one of the poorest countries in the world; women and children, the weakest members of Indian society, suffer most. In addition, 1.4 million children die each year in India before their 5th birthday because of malnutrition.
But the important question is, as a developing nation, have the political parties ever taken a pause, paid heed and taken stock of these ground realities?
Unfortunately, political parties across the spectrum continue to mislead people by playing on their religious sentiments. The social fabric of the country is being pulled in multiple directions. On one hand you have CAA NRC outbursts, fiery mob mentality over religious matters, FIR against the students of TISS and JNU, farmers suicide, women being raped and so much more. On the other hand, you have individuals converging at locations, asserting their Constitutional rights, forcing political parties to take notice, yet being ignored or silenced because of the finer nuances of our legal operational assumptions. Is this the tipping point?
Maya Angelou once said, people forget what you say but they will never forget how you made them feel. But I guess we have more pressing matters to cover with PM announcing his strategic plan to give up of all social media platforms. This essentially means letting the trolls take over the conversation completely – be it political, economic or social.
What you forget is that when religion and politics ride in the same cart, it’s bound to be a tumultuous journey. And my question is, do you see your future generation smiling at the end of this road?