By Tinky Ningombam
It is interesting to notice certain cue words and coinages in the public discourses in the country at a particular time. Be it AAP’s bombardment of the word “aam aadmi”, or the cacophony of voices for “Make in India”, or the closer to home issue of “integrity”. Certain words becomes synonymous with the certain times and lives we are in. And besides the social and political implications, we see them manifesting in things that people do or say around us.
Recent events in the past one year has been a dramatic sequence of people against establishments, people against people, governments against governments and campaign after unrelenting campaign in different forms and with different agendas. 2015 was indeed a year of many colors, not only for the political milieu but also for the general discourse of the country.
Closer to home, be it the ILP issue or voices from various political and social factions, the discourse of integrity has time and again been raised. And consciously or not, the sides we picked in an argument or a belief if not anything serious, made us either social pariahs amongst liberal friends or a fundamental activist if not more.
I recently happened to chance upon a small gathering of academicians, a conference of sorts. The topic of discussion was supposed to be academic and fairly social in nature. But what we heard from the same people,who had been invited as honored guests,were their own personal hate against other factions and communities and citing ILP issues incorrectly in validating that hate. Now when you are given the chance to speak in front of the audience, one must be aware that there is a huge responsibility that is given to you. A speech can change a susceptible mind. It is a huge task because especially in an academic discussion, personal hate can be misconstrued as a conscious analysis. And that bias is something that this select gathering of academicians and social activists could not differentiate.
One should now be aware that people have used the underdogs’ privilege in arguments of this nature and it is about time that we stop playing the victim all the time. There are communities within communities, factions within factions. And their arguments of the “self” and the “other” will be more or less the same. A step back with introspection can change the way we deal with our so called “oppressors” if we do not ourselves think of oppressing others. It is highly questionable if what we hate as a community is the idea of discrimination or the idea that we are discriminated and not the other way round.
Because we certainly live in interesting times, no longer removed from public view or discourses. The age of information has dawned upon us and it is increasingly important to not use this opportunity to show our biases and failings as a disjointed group of people, tied down for political reasons or geography.
This ideal talk of integrity has to move beyond being a talk and empowering people to face the past failings of the society at large and not to hide for fear of public judgement. On the one hand, there is censorship of what can be spoken in discourses in the society and on the other, people from different communities are publicly spewing hate against each other. A strange dichotomy, this. We have unabashedly shown the world that we are indeed a land of people who thrive on communal politics even if our economy or welfare of the State is in shambles.
That and a growing number of trolls just waiting to pounce on people who label themselves liberal. No wonder people are scared to comment or say anything that has to do with politics, community or religion because when they do so, they are immediately targeted by people with vested interests hidden under their comfortable masks of “discrimination” or victimization. Being a fence sitter then becomes a lucrative option.