Mr. Markandeya Katju’s (former Judge of Supreme Court and present Chairman of Press Council of India) statement that 90% Indians are fools and can be taken for a ride, created a furor in the entire nation. His statement goes,” Ninety per cent of Indians are "idiots" who can easily be misled by mischievous elements in the name of religion. He further says that a communal riot could be incited in Delhi for as meagre an amount as Rs 2000. All somebody has to do is make a mischievous gesture of disrespect to a place of worship and people start fighting each other”.
You can’t dismiss the statement right away, yet 90% figure can be a point of debate. And if we agree to the statement then the term “Intelligent Indian” is soon going to be an oxymoron!
His statement didn’t come particularly as a shocker, we may or may not utter it on a public platform but we all know the reality. We may adjust the percentage figure to suit our guess and exclude ourselves from that 90% (as I am sure Mr. Katju also might have done). But what totally evades me, is how he concluded that this epiphany will actually become a moment of enlightenment for Indians.
We are community divided and subdivided into so many groups that keeping count of all the identities a person is attached to is a herculean task. Our divisions are based on religion, economic status, caste, gender (by gender we do not mean only male or female), language, region, education, colour, states, occupation, political views, even the sports or film star we like and so on. The list can never be all inclusive. (I here recommend a thought-provoking article written by a very versatile writer, Siddharth Gupta at his blog ‘Standing Coin’). Among all these identities, identity of being an Indian never simply occurs, ironically!
Many social reformers, spiritual and social leaders heralded the scene with greater promise to infuse oneness into the society. They did stir up common people’s interest but failed to change the basic mentality. They were followed for their promises of never-land but with a closed mindset. Nothing ever really altered the thought process. They ended up creating more sects among the already divided society. In our classrooms, we were taught ‘Unity in diversity’ being the hallmark of our great land. What an innocent eyewash that proved to be!
Every Indian, you and me, must be falling in a division which feels oppressed by the other groups. For example I, as a female feel oppressed by men folk. I feel disgusted at the reports of domestic violence, rapes and exploitation of women and lack of equal respect and opportunities. You may also figure out at least one such subjugated group that has been wronged, you fall in. We are incessantly pushed towards identifying ourselves with one or more of such groups and hence pitted against each other. It just needs a tiny spark and dynamite of hatred lurking just beneath the surface goes boom.
Add to it our common intolerance towards truth (yes! this one thing is common). Anybody who dares to hold up the mirror is pelted at mercilessly. Be it the case of Mr. J Ramesh saying that India has more temples than toilets or the two girls lamenting the shut-down of the city due to demise of a local leader.
Unfortunately, this all had nothing to do with the level of education a person has received. The hooligans that we see on TV or in print flashing their sticks and blazing torches, running about razing public property or worse committing genocide, are not all illiterates. Education or rationalism that comes with education is too toothless to leave any mark on the rigid conditioning we receive since our childhood. Difference of sensibilities, education, intellect all dissolves behind the mask of mob. For a common cause of hatred, all other rationales are thrown behind and the gory task at hand becomes the only religion. Even in our day to day lives we all display some degree of favouritism and factionalism that shows division of minds. ‘Equal opportunities for every one’ is a distant dream. De-tangling of minds, ideals, motives will take long to become a reality. Till then, the struggle to shed multiple identities to gain a single badge of being Indian is on…
Picture taken from: healthtap.com