How India's Political Landscape Influences Citizens

How The Political Landscape of India Influences Citizens

India as a whole is angry and mourning. Is there a better way to deal with the incidents of 14th February. Here is what I think. I’d like to mention that I try to stay away from reading newspapers or surfing news channels due to the sheer amount of hate they garner. If you think about it, there is little value gained from watching all these biased views.

I know Pulwama attacks is a controversial topic right now. A suicide bomber attacked a convoy of military vehicles in Jammu and Kashmir, claiming the lives of 40 CRPF personnel.

It bothers me even more than the mere stating of opinions with a close friend led to the severing of our decade-long friendship. They said hateful things which I had never expected and they wanted that this incident’s responsibility lies on the shoulder of the whole country of Pakistan. It was this incident that inspired me to voice my opinions.

I was heading towards Starbucks after work to write this article, I hired an auto rickshaw (cab) to the nearest mall. The driver asked me the time, it was 6.30 pm, then he proceeded to inquire about the verdict of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting and I frankly said that since we are at work from 9 to 6, we hardly get to know what is happening in the outside world. Additionally, we have plenty of work on our hands, so we don’t get free time to read up on these stories.

He proceeded to bad mouth Pakistan and I interrupted.

I mentioned a few points that he continued to listen for the remainder of the journey.

The Facts

  1. The 14th February attack on India’s convoy was unprovoked and the people responsible should be punished for it.
  2. Calling Pakistan bad as a whole is wrong because the people responsible for these tragedies are the terrorists and the people who trained them, not the citizens of the country.
  3. War is incredibly profitable and it can be used as an excuse to allocate $56 billion from the India’s taxpayer money, while if even 10% of this budget was allocated to infrastructures such as educational institutions and healthcare, our country would be closer to being developed rather than developing.
  4. Holding protests, blocking roads and stopping trains will not solve the problems, it simply stops people like him and myself from going to work and making a living.
  5. If the political parties focus more on providing jobs to the 31 million+ unemployed youth, they won’t have the population to appear in their rallies and protests, which is a clear conflict of interest.
  6. The Kashmir conflict has been ongoing since 1947 and since a verdict cannot be reached by either India or Pakistan, we keep hearing about ceasefire violations, surgical strikes, attacks, and retaliation. In fact, this has been a piece of major news since the past couple of years. Due to their failure to come to a conclusion, resolving the issue like adults, thousands of innocent lives are lost.
  7. Media channels are paid are incredibly biased, coverage of conflicts and scaring the population that an all-out war will break out keeps the people glued to their screens, which is best for business.
  8. Divide and rule was the strategy that the Britishers used on India to create a divide between religion and the partition was a bigger strategy to keep us from uniting. However, it was prevalent long before they came to India and has been used as a catalyst for chaos for centuries.
  9. News channels and politicians understand that as long as there is hate between Hindus and Muslims, they can manipulate the actions of the population for their personal gains.
  10. Indian election dates are coming and showing the people that the government is taking action can help them secure their seats just in time for the next electoral polls.
  11. Indians and Pakistani citizens have established some of the closest friendships overseas and they urge the residents of their country to do the same, in support for a non-violent resolution and to nurture a friendship.
  12. I do not support any political party and the candidates and I am not satisfied with the candidates which I have to choose from to give my vote.
  13. I want the government of India to consist of people who have never had a criminal record in the past, whether it was dismissed or not because corruption allows them to bury the case quite easily.

After this, there was silence for a couple of minutes while I reached my destination. Before getting out of the vehicle, I asked him what were his thoughts on the things that I said.

He said

“Everything you said was correct and sadly the people of our country do not think this way. Would you like to have some tea? I’m paying.”

Out of impulse, first I refused, but then I thought that this would be a great opportunity to hear his thoughts as well. So I agreed. He drove to the nearest tea stall and we started talking again. He parked his auto below a ‘No Parking’ sign and I told him the same, his reaction was

“This is India, everybody has a habit of not following rules.” And gave a hearty grin.

He told me about how bad the political influence and terror is prevalent in his home state of Uttar Pradesh and that there are certain politicians who would simply throw people into the river if they didn’t support them. This reminds me of “Plata el Plomo” from Narcos, which basically means “Silver or Lead” – accept a bribe or die. He also talked about corruption and how the police scare the general population including him to throw people into jail for not giving bribes.

In a survey, over 40% of Indians have confessed giving bribes to officials (due to the billion plus people in our country, it’s hard to conduct such a large scale survey and I believe the actual figures are much higher), so I think the change will start happening once we stop encouraging such activities. In the end, he bids me goodbye, asks my name and thanks me for the conversation.

I do not condone violence in any form whatsoever and I would rather hope for a world that is driven by justice and peace. I have been taught from a very young age that attacking is wrong but self-defense is every person’s birthright.

Governments can allocate billions and even trillions of dollars in the defense budget, which is basically the taxpayer’s money used to buy weapons. Nobody knows the exact amount that goes into defense as a lot of the money is allocated for bribes, rigging deals or filling one’s own pocket by the majority of the world’s governments. Think about it, when India was hit by it’s biggest attack, on 26th November 2008, Mr. Hemant Karkare, the chief of the ATS (Anti-Terrorist Squad) died on the frontlines fighting. The shell hit his bullet-proof jacket, which was beyond its expiry date (dubbed as substandard and not combat ready), resulting in his unfortunate death.

Every 5 years, one leader rises from each political party claiming major reforms that would transform the country. In the end, not a single person is completely satisfied with the elected leader and a large chunk of the population decides to skip voting altogether.

In fact, Trump’s presidency is also the result of a large portion of the United States population choosing not to vote.

The reason I am writing this article is that people are blindly following the forwarded messages and social media posts and are becoming increasingly vocal about violence. There is a considerable aggresstion in the air and it shows when you talk a walk around the city. Work goes as usual, but everyone is pissed off.

I know that seeing something bad happen and feeling powerless is the worse thing that no one should be subjected to. I might get a lot of hate for this, but I think that there needs to be a permanent solution in place. Freedom of Expression is my Fundamental Right and my country gives it to every citizen to voice their opinion.

Meanwhile, if you open any Indian newspaper, you will see news pieces in which follow  the same format

“x said y about z”

“z said about x”

x being a prominent leader of the first political party

y being a childish remark, seriously even school kids don’t do that anymore

z being a prominent leader of the second party

Even school kids don’t fight this way anymore.

 

A humble request to India’s citizens

In the end, I’d ask the readers of this post to 

  1. Not blindly follow what they see or hear.
  2. Everything you see on the internet is not true (sorry to break your bubble).
  3. To carry out one’s own research before jumping to conclusions.
  4. Stop bulk-forwarding any triggering content on social media as it might have unfortunate consequences.
  5. To make well-informed decisions based on the complete truth.
  6. Lastly, the history is usually written by the victors of the war, so always take information with a pinch of salt (be skeptical! Facts can be fudged.)

I hope we find a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir conflict in the coming years so that the people in the valley can also live freely. Having visited Gulmarg,  I got to have a conversation with hotel managers, doormen, security guards, local population and drivers. I learned that the extent of violence inside Kashmir is extremely overplayed by the media and that these are peaceful people who truly believe in hospitality and tourism. They simply want to stay in their homeland peacefully.

I ask you, the reader, is this too much to ask on their part? Try putting yourself in their shoes, would you willingly be in a position where a misguided bullet or explosive ends up claiming the life of your family or friends?

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