Wednesday, March 12
Are we an apathetic nation?
Ramananda Sengupta, Rediff.comm, March 12, 2003
As anti-war protests rattle the windows in Washington, London, New York, Tokyo, in Damascus and Rawalpindi, in Cairo, Moscow, Kuala Lumpur and Karachi, a frightening calm hangs over India.
Frightening because it indicates the levels of apathy that we as a nation have sunk to. An apathy that reflects in every sphere of our lives, an apathy that is reflected in our personal, national and international dealings.[...]
Of course we do. These pressing problems make five able-bodied people turn their face when a young girl is raped by a scrawny vagabond on a suburban Mumbai train.
These pressing problems ensure that we accept corruption and governmental apathy with tired resignation. And these pressing problems prevent us from rallying together against the obvious bully boy tactics of a superpower.
This cancer of I, Me, and Mine has percolated through the entire length and breadth of our society, [...]
Let us ignore the fact that it was India that taught the world what a non-violent movement could achieve. That India was the founder member of the Non-aligned Movement, which was created to oppose colonialism in any form.
Let us brush aside the fact that in September 1990, a month after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, then external affairs minister I K Gujral traveled to Baghdad and embraced Saddam Hussein and later urged Indians in Kuwait to support Iraq.
Let us conveniently forget the fact that Saddam's Iraq has consistently supported India's position on Kashmir. That during the 1970s oil crisis, Saddam shipped crude oil to India at reasonable rates.[...]
If one thinks about the choices before India, this 'middle path,' which is also being endorsed by other nations opposed to war, seems the only viable option.
After all, if India were to overtly oppose and condemn a war, all the bonhomie between India and the US would dissolve in an instant. And that is something India can ill afford at this juncture.
While if it were to openly endorse a US invasion of Iraq, it risks antagonising a huge Muslim population already seething over Gujarat, as well as the Arab nations worldwide.[...]
Protests, if nothing else, would prove that we care about issues that matter. That we are unwilling to let the government make all our choices for us. In a democracy, protests put the politicians on notice.
And finally, they would at least indicate our awareness of the fact that it is but a very, very short step from being an apathetic nation to a pathetic one