Where the mind is without fear and the head held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening thought and action;
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake
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Everyday, when i see what is happening in India, i am aghast. Since i reside or split my life between two countries, the US and India, i see several parallels. The recent happenings in India, were similar to the reactions in the US, after 9/11. Immediately after 9/11, US citizens started reacting wildly, ready to give up their privacy and rights, or maybe the Govt simply usurped the rights. People felt that it was important to the larger cause. People who opposed this thought process were considered anti-national. The situation in India, is very similar. The Govt, here in India, clearly doesnt need any special laws like in the US, but has effectively employed quite archaic rules and laws, that were so widely used during the British rule of India. Or even without using any appropriate law, they are able to intimidate people, and divide them into nationalists and anti-nationalists.
The last couple of years in India with the advent of the Narendra Modi government, the RSS and and similar sounding outfits, have come crawling out of holes. They have been empowered and have started to echo similar sounds that hark back to the divide. The idea that if you do not wear the national flag on your chest you are a anti-national simply sounds ridiculous. The constitution or the laws of the nation do not be demand that you to keep raising the national flag, or invoke the soldiers that stand guard at our borders. Yes, these are patriotic duties of a citizen, but please don’t teach me these. I know when, and how, and where to display these patriotic feelings. I don’t need to prove my nationalism and patriotism to anybody.
Since I brought the topic of the soldiers I do wish to bring up another point. Before we talk about the soldiers who guard our borders, it is important to realize that their masters are the government. And by that definition, we mean the politicians that rule the country. This situation begs the question, why did we put them there? As in why do our soldiers stand guard at our borders? Borders on glaciers and mountains, where the cold kills more than an enemy’s bullet or bomb. Did we exhaust all political dialogue before we put our soldiers at risk? I understand the situation that we are in, and I realize the importance of the role, these soldiers play. And therefore you must be careful before we drag their name into every politically street fight. Don’t use their hallowed name to settle your local internal and petty scores.
This government, its agents and the vast fan following available to BJP and RSS, and others that support this rightwing ideology are busy on Twitter, Facebook and the multitude of social media outlets. Narendra Modi, elected to power on a platform of governance seem to have lost the plot. Instead of focusing on governance, passing bills in the assembly, working on the needs of the citizens, he and his government have instead kept the focus on ideology. The same ideology that divides the nation, instead of uniting it. Their so-called rights to the Hindu religion, in the name of hindutva, seems only serve a select few. It reeks off, the dark Middle Ages when the people were divided based on caste, class and other lines. The have single-handedly used this ideology to cast aspersion on anyone who would think different. They link every issue to patriotism, or the lack of it. They question thought, oppress speech that don’t concur to their views, and raise fake questions and doubts on people who don’t support these views. They do effectively use the internet to leave a trail, for anyone and all to pickup; whether it is true or not.
It is important to stay awake, and to question this stance. It is important for the rest of the nation to be aware of the plot and to resist this divide. It is not always a question of nationalism vs against. It is simply a fundamental right guaranteed by our constitution.
If we want to be patriotic, then lets be patriotic to our constitution. We have had the opportunity to create one after reviewing the Magna Carta, the constitution of the British Govt, the American and many others. We have, in all probability adopted the best of these and set a new standard.
The six fundamental rights recognized by the Indian constitution are:
- Right to equality: Which includes equality before law, prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, gender or place of birth, and equality of opportunity in matters of employment, abolition of untouchability and abolition of titles.
- Right to food; every citizen has right to food, which include right to non-veg food as well
- Right to freedom: Which includes freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association or union or cooperatives, movement, residence, and right to practice any profession or occupation (some of these rights are subject to security of the State, friendly relations with foreign countries, public order, decency or morality), right to life and liberty, protection in respect to conviction in offences and protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.
- Right against exploitation: Which prohibits all forms of forced labour, child labour and traffic of human beings
- Right to freedom of religion: Which includes freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion, freedom to manage religious affairs, freedom from certain taxes and freedom from religious instructions in certain educational institutes.
- Cultural and Educational rights: Preserve the right of any section of citizens to conserve their culture, language or script, and right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
- Right to constitutional remedies: Which is present for enforcement of Fundamental Rights.
- Right to life: Which gives the right to live with human dignity. This includes rights such as right to clean environment, water, education, health, livelihood, shelter and basic amenities that the state shall provide.
- Right to education: It is the latest addition to the fundamental rights
Lets start with these.