The rage of India

There’s always been an undercurrent of ‘violence’ in India.

The freedom fight, the ‘non-violence’ movement, partition and so on meant that violence was not a stranger to many people who live in this glorious country I call home.

The weak police force, the politicised judiciary (and cops for that matter) provided a good backdrop to what happened in the country. Who you knew was your ‘get out of jail’ card.

Then along came the movies that glorified violence in every form, in every language. You can kill anyone, get the girl and go home a hero. In a land where unemployment is in its late teens and poverty is rife, movies provided the perfect fodder to feed one’s fantasies.

The politicians played the caste card, or the religion card to win elections.

We have always had a history of riots in practically every major state in the country, and many of those responsible still walk free.

So all in all we have always been on the brink.

Cut to the present.

There is a government in place that seems to be making all the right economic noises and apparently things are getting better, but not to the average person where everything is getting harder. The recently announced GST bill is a great example, where it seems it is good for the country but things are going to cost more for its citizens.

No major political party can stand the other so they keep stoking the fears amongst its constituents, and others to be frank, that things are going downhill.

Roads are jammed for miles with ride sharing taxi drivers who are seeing dwindling earnings.

So you will hear stories of a cabby beating up a man and his little child because he was asked to move his car. You will read about 4 men brutalising a woman just for a lark.

We are getting closer and closer to the edge now.

Then along comes social media where 1. You can absolutely say anything you want with no consequences 2. You cannot differentiate right from fake.

What do you expect to be the outcome?

Social media operates in networks of connections. Out of bounds of any eyes. How easy is it to start trouble?

Recent example of the India-Pakistan cricket match. The analogies to war start in the main stream media. Every insult ever uttered, or percieved to be uttered, by a Paksitani player is drudged up and by the time match day is around anything is possible. After the match someone will send around an unverifiable video allegedly showing Indian Muslims celebrating Pakistan’s victory inside a mosque. (A very respected well educated internationally traveled elder in one of my Whatsapp groups did send one video like this and fortunately it was quickly shut down by the others.) Here is the math that the simple people do..Indian Muslims support Pakistan who are our arch enemy (off the field for all the terrorism the country has faced for many year)

The grass is perfectly dry waiting for someone to throw a match.

So now you start a rumour that all Africans are drug dealers and point to one person who is the source of it. Start a rumour that a particular community supports witchcraft. Start a rumour that Muslims are stealing our cows. It doesn’t matter what the rumour is. It just needs a specificity to it and a clearly identifiable culprit. If you have an accompanying video, or picture,(which can not be verified) that justifies the rumour even better

For the masses, here is someone on who they can take out their pent up anger. The network gets mobilised and they are off.

This in turn feeds the media news cycle driving the country into a greater frenzy.

Everyone is trying to feed into and feed off the hysteria. Facebook posts show graphic images (verified or not) essays written by one sided voices making things worse. The many armchair critics tut tut into their single malts and wonder where the country is going.

And tragically there are no sober voices to bring sanity. Everyone is on someone’s side and there is no question of bridging the aisle for anything.

The fight is not against just one religion, it is against castes, it is against sexes, it is against classes, it is against landowners and so on.

Our democracy has truly evolved to what someone called a ‘mobocracy’.

If we are of the people, by the people, for the people then the people need to play their part.

There is no question that we should expect the governments (state and centre) do their bit by clamping down on these thugs that have brought violence to the streets.

A recent story of the Udupi Krishna Mutt offering iftar meals got millions of likes and shares, suggesting that we are starving for good news.

So, let’s also do our bit by not feeding the hysteria. Let’s do our bit by not promoting media that glorifies violence. Let’s put pressure on our opinion leaders (Film stars, cricketers and the ilk) to try and be role models on screen. Let’s do our bit by educating those in our influencer circle.

This is in our control.

Yes the country is in a rage, but we the citizens don’t have to be.

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