- P. Niroop is an Advocate in Supreme Court & Former Additional Advocate General, Meghalaya
The dark portents that loom large on the national horizon threaten to cloud even the skies of Meghalaya.
Portents like authoritarian centralization of power in the office of the PM at the expense of the Union Cabinet resulting in the dismantling of the cabinet form of government itself, and the recent open revolt by the senior-most judges of the Apex Court against the CJI in open public glare.
The atmosphere of intolerance in the country resulting in the elimination of dissenting voices by murder, moral policing on eating, drinking, and dress habits of the people, the manner in which festivities like Valentine’s Day or Jallikattu are to be celebrated, inflaming hatred between religious communities and uneasy relationship with the neighboring countries etc. have converted the nation into a veritable prison house with lurking fear of losing valuable human freedoms, cherished by the nation and well enshrined under the Constitution of India.
It is sad to note that not a day passes without hearing of the death of a Kalburgi, a Dhabolkar, a Pansare, or a Gauri Lankesh, not to speak of the ruthless killings by the cow vigilantes and attacks by ‘Romeo squads’.
All this at a time when the world is looking for a possible solution to a multicultural India with its hoary philosophical and religious ethos.
Instead, the nation under the saffron party in power at the center is showing its ugly face full of warts.
The nation today is not moving toward an inclusive, tolerant, plural country with a rich diversity of languages and cultures but toward a rigid, narrow-minded, intolerant, belligerent atmosphere created by the party in power at the center for its selfish political gains at the cost of the nation.
It is high time this trend is reversed and that could well begin from Meghalaya itself, which is a modern forward-looking state with sizeable youth population and where the Christian religion and Tribal culture comingle harmoniously to form a new theology of human brotherhood.
The musical legacy of Meghalaya is yet another factor which can arrest the fissiparous tendencies plaguing the country due to the propagation of false values and campaigns of misinformation by the saffron party at the center.
Recently, the traditional dress of Meghalaya proudly worn by its woman folk i.e. ‘Jainsem’ was frowned upon, at an elite club in Delhi and the union government was a mute witness to this gross intolerance, though the MoS Home takes pride in belonging to a North Eastern State.
Democracy makes for a “multicultural society”, whereas the nation under the present regime at the center seems to be moving in the reverse direction, toward a very narrow interpretation of ‘cultural nationalism’ in which there is no culture nor nationalist sentiment, but sheer rabid linguistic and religious fundamentalism.
If Meghalaya is to steer clear of these dark clouds overcast on the Indian political sky, it has to choose at the ensuing elections between a national party like the Congress, sensitive to local issues, federal-minded, people-oriented, transparent, accountable, and the saffron party along with their regional partners handicapped by a democracy deficit, governance deficit or development deficit as proved by the BJP government at the center and the regional parties when in power in the State of Meghalaya.
The INC as a national party has stood the test of time as having espoused the cause of preservation of plurality and diversity of the Indian sub-continent with friendly relations with its immediate neighbours shorn of any big-brother attitude, and the regional parties appealing to local sentiment of identity without any economic agenda whatsoever, led by a religious fundamental party is bent on destroying the very cultural fabric of India which took aeons to develop. The idea of India, as a composite culture and civilization, is a heritage that we all Indians cherish and would like to preserve for posterity not only for India but for the benefit of the world at large.
We are all proud of India and its rich cultural heritage but the question is:
Is India proud of us?