Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Culture of silence

When we pick up a newspaper every morning, we are reminded of Mark Twain’s wise words: ‘If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed’. And it is the misinformed citizenry that furthers flawed democracy, which in turn fosters flawed media. Perhaps that’s why there seems no news about the prevalent system which is notorious for releasing criminals, and then blaming the released criminals when they are caught again for other crimes. Not only has the terminology of justice changed but it also morphed the definition of such news dramatically. The lofty pronouncements of politicians make news when they don’t mean what they say. The promises never to be kept and the policies never to be implemented! From dreamy employment packages to petty repair of roads and drains, the news is meaningless for those – the disturbed youth or dismayed residents – who are linked to it. In a place where everything is in a mess, the news about plans and policies aimed at good governance becomes a laughing stock. In the same vein, isn’t it naïve to accept the news about any change in the complexion of the Naga imbroglio as something factual? Whether it is about talks heading in the rights direction or talk has concluded, or about inking a pact soon, etc, the news is just not real. It is farcical. And still, it gets reported. They say ‘false history gets made all day, any day; but the truth of the new is never on the news’. There is no news about the hardened, brutal and unscrupulous mindset with a soft and finer demeanor, adept at twisting and distorting what is real and important to replace the same by gimmicks, slogans and muck racking. There is no news about those who go lock, stock and barrel for gaining riches, fame and name; those who grab positions through fawning and flattery and then, dabble in all kinds of fraud and sleaze to justify their occupation. There is no news about nasty scandals that are perpetuated under police protection. There is no news about such people who trample down all rules and regulations, knocking over and moulding ways to see their kith and kin having a smooth sailing in life. Be it politics, bureaucracy or any other establishment, there is no news about how such people lay the plush foundation for propagating mediocrity. Today desensitization has crept in so chronically in all spheres of our lives that thinking beyond the line is impossible. Be it political, social or routine matters, we don’t dare to think and act differently. The crippled thought system has led many of our people into a strange hallucination. For the masses, the nerve for disagreement has died down over the past few years. The culture of conciliation has thrived so systematically and severely that the exceptional ones who disagree, are victimized both overtly and covertly. Even the level of victimization has gone down so foul and cheap. Picking up yes-men (or for that matter, women) or dropping out the disagreeable lot; creating a coterie of nodding; promoting yeas and demoting nays; lobbying for likeminded; ostracizing the differing- it all happens because the culture of hearing ‘No’ has become utterly unacceptable in our society now. The grit to object and put your foot down summons a huge cost. Subsequently, the social inequity and injustice, so prominent in our society, has oddly become invisible. The earlier concept of social haves’ and have-nots’ appears diminutive in comparison to the prevailing discriminations meted out through planned and organized ways by individuals at different positions. And the cheek of this kind of unfairness is the unspoken sanction and submission it gets from all and sundry. The culture of induced silence has mutated the social dynamics. The rot of every sort and its acceptability as a social currency has changed the meanings of sense and sensibility for us. Today everything has gone missing here. The real facts; the real issues. The real people; the real thinking. What is hyped up is trivial and what is hushed up is the actuality. So, it’s hogwash everywhere; hogging everything. And it will continue to hog even our collective heart pulse.