Monday 19 March 2012

What it means to speak up in India

Image Courtesy-
 We as a group, as Indians are a very anti- speaking up kind of nation. We do not raise our voice on anything be it- corruption, animal cruelty, lack of amenities. We are taught as kids to shut up and listen to our elders. Elders are the wise ones, they know better. As we grow up, the elders are replaced by the powerful ones. From the school principal, college principal, boss, local MLA, all the way up to the prime sinister oops! I mean minister of the country form a hierarchy of power. You're not supposed to speak up against power. And if you do, you are a bad boy and you deserve some spanking!

As a kid, a child develops doubts in his quest to attain knowledge. He turns to his mentor only to be turned down. Asking questions is not really encouraged here. Questioning somethings mean developing doubt over its authority. You do not ask the "why"! You ask only "what" and you're supposed to memorize the answer.
Source: Google Image Search

A rule is created to keep the herd in line, keep the unruly crowd in check; time passes and the rule attains redundancy but it needn't be scrapped! Because to scrap the rule, you have to question it and questioning is, remember? forbidden!

In schools, a routine is created, a protocol is given. It's termed "discipline" and it frequently includes abhorring one's mother-tongue, cramming lines from a poem that you wouldn't understand even till your death. Here is where the fear of being wrong is instilled in young minds. There is a minority of teachers who believe in the far-fetched idea of individuality but, they are few and far apart.

Image Courtesy- (my own cartoon)

As we enter real-life, we find unanswered questions, customs based on sheer lunacy, rules made by the powerful all around us. You enter a railway platform, see a board outside cafeteria which says "Please do not pay more than printed price for the bottled water" but when the owner charges you Rs 12/- for a Rs 10/- bottle, you do not pick up the phone and complain to the authorities, you pick up your wallet and pay up! We are the country where a long waiting queue keeps getting longer even if the nearby counter has a smaller queue. We like to stay with the herd.
Source: Flickr Image Search (Pavan Gupta)

It's not like nobody ever speaks up against things here. Oh! We are an enthusiastic lot. It is just that we are too preoccupied ourselves to carry on with the task of "speaking up". That's why we invite tenders and sell the right to the ones who are the most jobless. It's only that these speakers do not necessarily represent us when they speak, they represent lunacy in a different form, they represent power in a different form. They are the untamed, lunatic monsters that we had created to hunt down the tamed powerful monsters. Sadly, they have sided with each other and are now conspiring against us.

The monsters we had created, the wild ones of the society- are involving in eve-teasing, smashing things, boycotting Valentine's day, looting ballet boxes, murdering honest police officers. They are the rebels we have created. They work against the system, only to empower it. The right kind of rebellion is a mockery of itself. Take Anna Hazare movement for instance, he has rebels, his cause is good but, when it came to the litmus test, it couldn't hold its own. The fabric that builds today's rebel in India is tainted.

If we really wish to create a rebel with a soul for today's India, we need to water its plants with the water of yesteryear. A Bhagat Singh, a Chandrashekhar Azad are easy to find, but people who would believe in them? Not so easy. I think we've been betrayed enough in the last 50 years to trust again in a rebellion. That is why, as a custom, we don't speak up, neither do we let anyone.

Jai Hind!


  1. Nice post, thought provoking!

    1. Thanks Rajyalakshmi. Glad to provoke your thoughts

  2. I suppose, in ancient India, there really were people who had all the answers. So their pupils did not waste time asking why, they just did as they were told. These were people worth listening to. But in today's world, sadly, almost nobody knows what they're doing. So yes, asking why is very important and needs to be brought into our society. Nice post!

    1. Thank you Sumitra, yes, a very valid point you've made. We had pioneers, great leaders and people followed them. The followers have survived while the pioneers are gone. :-)


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