More than 900 theatre artists, visual artists, scientists and famous personalities issued a statement to ‘Vote against the BJP and its allies’ in the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha Elections which raised so many questions in our head that would create enough content for 2019 edition to ‘Tell Me Why’ book series by Arkady Leokum, last released in 1972.
Platform For Artists rummaged the internet for the statement and found out that these artists believe that the "Constitution of the country is under threat. To question, to call out lies, to speak the truth, is branded anti-national. The seeds of hatred have entered our food, prayers and festivals’ and many more reasons for why one shouldn’t vote for BJP,’ the Hindutva advocate. The artists appealed Indians to ‘vote against bigotry, hatred and apathy out of power. Vote to empower the weakest, protect liberty, protect the environment, and foster scientific thinking. Vote for secular democratic, inclusive India. Vote for the freedom to dream. Vote wisely."
Now, PFA may seek more insights on this triggering statement in context to the ruling government and its allies as till today, we are mostly concerned about the basic necessities to fill up the comfortable existence (privilege people don’t ask for more, they get more). Although PFA is not unaware of the changes taking place in the country that are suffocating some and agitating some other, we are concerned about casting the vote. Will it really matter who we vote for? How would it change the state of affairs if we vote for BJP or Congress or choose NOTA?
Like wildfire, one question led to another and we hope the smarter, intellectual ones who are reading this would help us make the decision (most of us are handicapped in comprehending the political scenario including those at the root level and would get bribed with food packets and liquor bottles because hunger! And illiteracy). Because if not BJP and its allies, then Congress? Mayawati? AAP?
International media houses have appreciated the ruling government (read Modi Sarkar, the only man working for over 12+ hours in the BJP party, is what we know of or being fed incessantly to believe?) for the record high GDP of 7.7%, high reserve, low inflation, a number of policies, digitalization, Make in India, electrification of several villages, sanitation, Swach Bharat Abhiyaan etc.
But if we were to tell you as a citizen of the country, having proper sanitation, food in our plate and roof over our head, fast speed internet, money in the bank account are the basic necessities that the government is ought to provide to all. This is 2019! The politicization of the achievements (basic development) is making us believe that these are the important issues while the deep rooted problems are scratched a little for reforms.
We called up a number of friends who are associated with NGOs working in several fields and took real life reports from them. Their answers were shocking (and quite believable because India!). The money that is being released from the government for the development of the villages, aren’t being used for the purpose: building of schools or toilets. People instead, need food, water and roof! They need to survive. They would rather defecate in the open and let their children be vulnerable to diseases than die of hunger. Has any government for the last 70+ years (not just the ruling government but the ones that ruled before) successfully lifted people’s lives above?
India being the most culturally diverse country of the world is one maze that no one can solve with one way. A government can neither divide and rule (British flashback) nor create communal hatred in the society. In the fear of getting washed down by the majority (reason is unknown) large number of conversions to minority sects are taking place in slums, villages and at the root level; sometimes forcefully and at times, targeting the vulnerability of the destitute. Why has the supremacy of one religion over the other become the major issue of the country?
If we look closely, each and every party is holding onto one religion or section of the society as their way to governance (read: vote bank) and emphasize on upliftment of their held supporters. Unfortunately, this culturally diverse country is unable to accept the presence of variations and letting pseudo fanatics and regressive people (they come in various disguises as parents, relatives, neighbors or colleagues) brainwash us into thinking one religion is above another or one caste should have more privileges than the other? Aren’t we all, irrespective of our backgrounds and surname living to feed our stomachs, lifestyle and needs?
Any party that has led the country has had its own ways of minting money, favor nepotism and use the religion card often to rule over people and stay in power. When in opposition, the manifestoes keep evolving that particularly talk about providing freebies to people. Why? Isn’t that why a number of people hate reservations because a person studying from an Ivy League and a senior secondary graduate are sitting in the same room talking about policies? Equality in terms of education, opportunities and upliftment of the lower sections of the society is still a distant dream, 70 years after independence. Let’s not even try and talk about corruption that the country witnessed over these years. The amount of our hard earned money that has filled the rich’s pockets and bank accounts of the rest is obnoxious.
Farmers died, rapes took place, lynching hit the headlines, new wave of ‘anti nationalists’ hit the crowd the meaning of which altered according to the fanatics’ ideologies, construction of temples became a priority, freedom of speech and expression was threatened, advocates of truth were killed ruthlessly and the people of the country continued to be the spectator until now. Can you see history repeating itself? Remember how British invaded India, brought development in the name of road construction and railways but used the divide and rule method until people rose to fight for true freedom of their land?
All of the extremist ideologies of one party and ill and loose policies of the others are waking people up, making us realize that the true power, doesn’t lie in the people that come knocking on our doors begging for a vote, BUT instead in our hand? How we have suddenly raised to safeguard each other and respect the opinions of those who are afraid to speak. How we all are facing the dilemma to choose the lesser evil that would keep the balance of development and growth and maintain the sanctity of the constitution and protect its people.
PFA is uncertain of what 2019 General Elections will lead to but we have clearly understood that extremism and radical behavior of ANY RELIGION or SECT is clearly unacceptable in a country that has more religions than the number of fingers in our hands, more languages and cultures than any other country in the world and India have accepted camaraderie in all these years of existence. The Mughal Dynasty ruled over us for centuries, The English sowed the seed of divide and now the extremists (not pointing out one particular party but everyone is perhaps ‘riding’ the same boat) are taking over our rationality into prioritizing religion over what is more important- development, peace and equality.
You know, what’s the silver lining here in this entire wave of people voicing their opinions, artists expressing the current state of India and rationality evolving in people? People, like you and I, who for all these years refrained from knowing and understanding how this country is functioning, who we are voting for and if they are performing their job properly or not are taking up the onus to be a part of the movement, for the country that has practiced peace, that has accepted hundreds of religions and promoted harmony over everything else.
We say, if you're still unsure for whom to vote, we suggest scrutinize the candidate of your legislation and see if that person will do his/her job right. Because we are sure that your demands of equality, better roads, safety for all, upliftment of all, basic needs are essential requirements and above, much higher than what the leading parties of the country are promising to provide.
P.S. If you know and understand the situation well, educate more people about it whilst respecting their opinions. It’s time we raise as one nation and raise everyone with us.