Satna, Rajkot and now Tuticorin: Why are we so angry?

Are you and me or crores of ‘normal’ people living on this land capable of beating another human being so brutally that he dies? Why are we so angry? Where is this anger springing from?

NH image
NH image

Pragati Saxena

Sarve Bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu niramaya, sarve bhadrani pashyantu, maa kashchid dukhbhag bhavet.’ (May all be happy, may all be healthy, may all see the good everywhere, may no one suffer.)

It is indeed difficult to believe that our ancestors wrote that. Mind you, ‘our’ ancestors and not the ancestors of just ‘Hindus’ as has become the trend now to ascribe everything to the great traditions of ‘Hindu ancestors’.

We have become an extremely angry society crippled with blunt sensibilities and complete insensitivity. It is a stark irony that the land where non-violence evolved into a philosophy which has been, is and will always remain relevant to human society, is now mired with incidents of rampant violence and intolerance.

Is the memory of our society so fleeting? It doesn’t seem so when we mention the Partition. But when it comes to the gruesome killings of individuals on the pretext of cow slaughter or Dalits being thrashed to death because they want to ‘live’ normally and freely, our perspective changes. We prefer to see them as ‘others’.

As if the gruelling demands to lead a normal life in today’s times were not enough, we are bogged down once again by a killing in Satna in the name of cow slaughter and brutal beating of a Dalit in Rajkot because he was ‘suspected’ to be a thief. Wait, there is more. The arbitrary police firing on the protesting people in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, leaves one in utter shock. Is the government too angry at people? Is there nothing like restraint left in our collective psyche?

The questions haunt and they haunt terribly—are you and me or crores of ‘normal’ people living on this land capable of beating another human being (like you and me) so brutally that he dies? Why are we so angry? Where is this anger springing from?

And over last few years we, as a society, have developed this habit of looking at these deaths merely as ‘news pieces’- as if they were events which occurred with some strange people in some distant land that we really don’t know much about or care about. But, that’s not true. All these incidents have happened to us, to our neighbours, to our acquaintances.

This disconnect between us, this sheer detachment with each other is appalling. How can we go on thinking that the problem concerning south Indians do not concern north Indians, issues of Muslims have nothing to do with Hindus, problems faced by Dalits are not linked with the society in general, the women and children who were raped and killed were (thank God!) not ours. So, we can live happily engrossed in our own minuscule issues and concerns and consider our country a ‘great’ one with a magnificent past! Why have we become mugwumps?

Invoking Gandhi has come to mean speaking in favour of a particular political party. The fact is, we have placed Mahatma Gandhi on a pedestal and have forgotten his tireless efforts to bring us, as a society together. But this is also an undisputed fact that Gandhi is relevant today more than he ever was.

A new trend has emerged (particularly with those in power) where we invoke our glorious past instead and claim that everything that was invented by scientists already existed with forefathers (read the Aryans or the Vaidik people/saints). Who knows if it is true, but more importantly what is its relevance now? Can the glorious acts of past save the people from present travails?

But our memory can. If we recall our magnificent history with pride, we can also remember the anguish and trauma of the Partition in our recent history when anger and violence left both the communities scarred forever. More than anyone else, it is us the Indians who should have this realisation within us, that patience and restraint are the virtues that can save us from this ghastly violence. This is the only thing that will save us from stooping to levels even lower than animals; our history and ancient scriptures never told us to kill for ‘temples’ or for a cow’s honour or for our caste’s prestige, even Lord Ram is a personification of love and harmony.

We have to recall that past of our collective memory which connects us, binds us together. We cannot live like isolated islands untouched by the heat of violence which the most unfortunate of us have fallen prey to. No political leader or party will salvage the situation unless we start empathising with each other. It is upon us to conquer this unabashed unreasonable anger towards each other, as some residents of Gurugram did when confronted with the issue of an appropriate place for offering namaz. We must set our own land in order; no leader would do this for us. ‘Datta Dayadhwam, Damyata’ (Be giving, compassionate and show restraint) is the need of the hour; TS Eliot realised it the twenties, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad mentioned it centuries ago, and we have to rediscover it in the present times in order to lead a harmonious life collectively and individually.

I sat upon the shore Fishing, with the arid plain behind me

Shall I at least set my lands in order?

London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down

These fragments I have shored against my ruins …

Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo's mad againe.

Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.

Shantih shantih shantih” (TS Eliot- Wasteland)

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Published: 24 May 2018, 5:27 PM