Sunday, July 25, 2021

Fish-market fights

It has long been bemoaned that the level and quality of the political discourse in the country has reduced to guttural depths because the calibre of those who lead and participate in political discourses, primarily the elite of the political class, isn’t what it used to be. Time was when the best minds and intellects led from the space and strength of learning, knowledge and wisdom ~ particularly before Independence and soon after. As democratization seeped into every aspect of human activities, the decay set in ~ not because democracy and democratization are detrimental to quality learning, knowledge and wisdom therefore to quality political leadership and quality political discourses but because the quality of education did not keep pace with the level of democratization of education. Today, while enrolment in educational institutions have laudably increased, the quality of our graduates has lamentably decreased, which manifests in our public life. Except for rarities, very few “degreed” political representatives at the national, regional and state levels have shown leadership qualities to change the narratives of citizens, who still languish in poverty and disease ~ and much less improve and elevate political discourses on crucial national issues. Perhaps the other reason could possibly be change in the political perceptions of the political class after about a decade of Independence, which is the perceptible shift from prioritizing the country to prioritizing the political party and deification of personalities. This has been noticed and noted since then and is well borne out by political discourses and events till date. Democracy dies numerous deaths when there is blatant prioritization of political parties and deification of personalities ~ in fact, along with democracy the country too dies numerous deaths. Some of the most injurious and regressive legislations that have been brought, or are being sought to bring, to bear ~ for instance the Citizenship Amendment, a passionate issue in the Northeast ~ stand witness to the numerous deaths of democracy and serious, often irredeemable, injuries and maladies inflicted on the country. All these are bad enough but perhaps Nagaland takes the cake as regards political discourses being taken to guttural depths. Almost every political discourse on any issue inevitably ends up being theatrics of one-upmanship and the vilest personal attacks and counter-attacks in our state. Lamentably, the more salacious these theatrics of one-upmanship and the vilest personal attacks and counter-attacks, the more the public laps them up without a care in the world how very detrimental and regressive they are for the present and future of the people and state of Nagaland; without a care in the world how irrelevant they are to the vulnerabilities of the people and worse still, how redundant they make the beleaguered people. While political parties and personalities, especially those in the helm of the state’s affairs, must highlight the shortcomings and shortfalls of those in power, or were in power, to protect the rights of the people, there are more civilized and polite ways of doing that. Language is also a powerful tool to get across a point, even to insult without seeming to insult but because our society too has been reduced to guttural depths, our political discourses have taken the form of fights in the fish market. Moreover, every issue isn’t always about this or that political party or personality ~ every issue that is tabled at the Parliament and Assembly is about the people and the country. Unfortunately, in Nagaland every issue becomes about this or that political party and/or personality ~ hardly about the people or the state. Now that the bickering has started between the ruling NDPP and the opposition NFP vis-à-vis the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which was passed the other day in the Lok Sabha, we are once again forced to witness another round of theatrics of one-upmanship and personal attacks and counter-attacks between them. In the process, none are being unambiguously emphatic about the Bill, one way or the other. Unfortunately, the public has once again missed this or ignores it. In Nagaland, except the Congress Party and the AAP, all other political parties are allies of the BJP and one hasn’t come across any report of the NFP quitting from the NEDA. Against this background, what are our political parties’ transparent and unambiguous stands and action thereof vis-à-vis the Citizenship Amendment Bill? Do our political parties and personalities have the courage of conviction to rise above their petty selves and stand unanimously against this ominous Bill?