The times are so polarised that anything one says will only add to the divide. It will either upset the right or the left. More fuel to the fire.
At such a time, we (the centrists) need to agree on a broad narrative that can be amplified. A narrative that points out the dysfunction while putting out ideas that most of us can agree on.
Here are some from my end.
1. This is bad economics
When people are angry, frightened and confused, their creative imagination shrinks. Whatever is left of it gets channelized in protest against the state.
Moreover, the eroding trust and instability means that at a macro level too, capital will start flowing out.
At a time when we are running out of jobs and entrepreneurship is the need of the hour, this generation is left to deal with historical baggage, communal and of climate change.
Bad for economy. For sure.
2. People are powerless (beyond the election)
Civil society has been systematically gagged. Running on corporate money, with the threat of harassment if there is dissent and tight regulation.
On the other hand, political parties are making themselves progressively free-er. They can accept anonymous foreign money with little accountability.
We forget that we are all citizens in the end. And citizen power is the key to a vibrant democracy. Citizen power needs to be restored.
3. Let us keep talking, come what may
Inspite of all the anger, rage and fight, the moderates across the spectrum need to keep speaking. There is no option because we are all India’s children and we have to get along, and get through this together.
The space for dialogue and the willingness to engage has to stay and be nurtured. It is the shrinking of these spaces that leads to lack of understanding and then violence.
The dialogue has to go on, and it has to stay civil and non-violent. That is non negotiable.
4. Violence by state against its citizens is wrong
Irrespective of who is in power, no state can allow unchecked violence against its citizens. The role of the police and the use of the taxpayer money is to ensure law and order. There has been a law and order breakdown.
That is not cool. Doesn’t matter what a certain University’s students do or what their budgets are. That is a different matter that has several other ways of engaging and dealing with.
Violence against any group sets precedent for violence against any one of us. It sends out a message of a rogue state.
That is not the India we want to see.
5. An India that is not for all is not an India for anyone
By the virtue of being in India, the idea of India has to resonate and work for every person here. None of us, no group can take up the sole ‘voice’ for what India is or should be. Not now or today.
So if the idea of India isn’t working for all groups, we need to reimagine it in a way that addresses all concerns. We can do this — our culture and our way of dialogue enables us to do this.
Will we do it? That much we owe to our elders who got us freedom and enabled us to walk thus far.
6. Channelize the anger and despair
This anger and irritation on all ends of the spectrum gets us to react. At this time, the urgency needs that prima facie.
Those of us who can though, must also channelize a part of this anger towards a long term response. We can wait for elections and send out messages. We can build the Movement that gives us the power to influence in the long run.
Either ways the despair and anger needs channelizing. The psychological cost of this is huge.
7. Time for healing and prayer
These times are stressful and traumatic for the country. We will need mass healing after this. We will need hope. We will need to get back the energy that has been used up in all this.
All of us.
We will need healing, rest and reflection, whichever way this goes. It is time for those of us who can hold these spaces to start doing that. It is time to start the healing, even as the core issues haven’t settled yet.
And prayer, yes. Time for us all to pray that we see this through.
It’s time to start amplifying voices that don’t divide us further, restore sanity and get us realigned to a longer term response.