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No safety for dreams in the land of protests

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New Delhi: 21 February 2016 was the scheduled date of Air Force Common Admission Test(AFCAT) and Engineering Knowledge Test. Thousands of young fresh students marked the date on their calendar as it was supposed to be the gateway to their dream.

A student fills up the form, prepares for the exam and is all set for the exam. A day before the exam, people belonging to a caste demanding the caste reservation block all roads around the capital of the country. Trains get canceled. The result, a young aspirant could not even appear in the exam.

Now, some would say, “try next time’’. But why? Wasn’t the exam supposed to happen now? What about all the preparation and hard work that went into vain.

In the times when people are ready to give the certificate of anti-national on anything, here are some students who wanted to join the Air Force, serve their nation but the government and all those nationalists could not even make sure that they appear in the exam.

Jats in Haryana are demanding the reservation. It is a different debate altogether whether they deserve the reservation or should the reservation be there for anyone in the first place. Here are important questions, how can government authority not make sure that the exam they are holding takes place? Can’t police make sure of the safety and peace needed?

A week ago, journalists were beaten in a court in the presence of the police? BJP is in the power, both in Haryana and Centre. But probably they are not aware of this. After all, it is a ‘minor issue’.

Air Force Headquarters said they can’t postpone the exam or change the center. Where is the common logic? Either make sure that all get the chance to give the exam or just postpone it.

In India, these days anyone has started making demands for reservation, the worst part is these protesters think vandalizing government property, blocking roads, impacting the normal life and peace are the way to get the government to accept their demands. How come nobody calls this anti-national?

There was a lot talk of JNU students wasting taxpayers’ money; shouldn’t the Jats be asked the same question? It’s not just Jats, it’s Gurjars in Rajasthan or Patels in Gujarat. Every year, a different caste blocks the roads in demand for the reservation.

The Government knows it is a matter of few days there will be some new issue and people will simply forget that. For example, since the day Jats reservation issue came up, JNU issue took a back seat in the media. But ask the student who missed the exam.

Then there are business companies, leaving no opportunity to make a profit. As soon as they came to know there are students who wanted to reach for the exam, the price of air tickets rocketed to the sky. Rs 55,000 was the price of the air ticket to Chandigarh from Delhi.

Incidents like this make people feel they are ignored by the government and the state and which unfortunately for the state itself, creates ‘rebels’. Then it is a never ending process of protests, crushing them, damage control and changing policy etc. Why go through it when it can be stopped in the beginning itself?

Hopefully, next time when there is such protest, no common student or people will have to bear the consequences of it.

(The article is personal point of view of the writer who has written on the behalf of a student who missed the exam and sends greetings to the Protesters and the government.)

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What Would Be The Outcome Of The Judgement On Homosexuality With BJP At The Centre?

If parties like the BJP and "cultural" organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation.

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Flag Of BJP, homosexuality
Ruling on gays: Is the BJP out of sync with modern realities? Flickr

More than the social impact of the Supreme Court’s judgment on homosexuality, what will be of concern to the ruling party at the Centre is its political fallout. Hence, the eloquent silence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the subject.

For the BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), any expansion of the concept of civil liberties is fraught with danger to their restrictive worldviews since a widening of human rights carries the prospect of greater individualism.

If the rights of the homosexuals to live without legal constraints are conceded, it can only encourage the people to free themselves of other restrictions as well such as on choosing live-in partners (of whatever sex) and eating, dressing and speaking as they please.

Homosexuality, India
SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

It is noteworthy that the verdict on gays has come close on the heels of the judgment which described the right to dissent as a “safety valve” which the government can only shut off at its peril lest there is an explosion.

Moreover, the court had also upheld not long ago the right to privacy which the government described as an “elitist” concept.

For the Hindu Right, as also for other religious fundamentalists, this dalliance with civil rights — the freedom to criticise the government, the exaltation of privacy and now the decriminalisation of homosexuality — entails a push towards liberalism and modernism which are anathema to any group which wants the society to be bound by shackles of orthodoxy and obscurantism.

It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.

Now that one of them is gone, there is little doubt that these closet followers of Britain’s 19th century politician Lord Macaulay — even as they decry the secular groups as “Macaulay’s children” — will hold on resolutely to the law on sedition as their only safeguard against the “anti-nationals” who, they believe, stalk the land.

Homosexuality
It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.
Wikimedia Commons

It is also possible that the saffronites will keep a hawk’s eye on any social problems that may arise because of the assertion of gay rights. As the BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has said, with eager anticipation, if a five-judge bench can overturn an earlier judgment in favour of criminalising homosexuality, a larger bench can undo the present verdict if gay bars begin to flourish and there is a rise in the cases of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections.

Interestingly, what these judgments underline is how the judiciary is more attuned to the changing world than the elected representatives of the hoi polloi who often argue in favour of giving greater primacy to the legislature than the judiciary since they claim to represent the people while the judges are unelected denizens of an ivory tower.

However, one possible reason why MPs and MLAs, especially of the BJP, seem to be out of sync with the present-day world is the presence in their midst of a large number of criminal elements who can hardly be regarded as the most progressive sections of society.

For instance, of the 543 elected members of the Lok Sabha, of whom 186 have a criminal record, 63 belong to the BJP, followed by eight of the Shiv Sena, four of the Trinamool Congress and three each of the Congress and the AIADMK.

Homosexuality
Gay Pride Procession. Pixabay

What the Supreme Court judgment appears to have done is to persuade parties like the Congress, which usually hedges its bets lest it should fall on the wrong side of public opinion, to come out in the verdict’s favour, presumably because it senses that this judgment, more than any other, has become a touchstone in the matter of breaking out from the stranglehold of the past.

To distance a party from it, as the BJP is doing, will amount to virtually alienating the entire youth community. Even if a majority among them do not have homosexual instincts — according to official figures, there are 2.5 million gay people in India, but this may be an underestimate since, till now, it was unsafe for them to reveal their sexual orientation — the youths nevertheless see the ruling as an assertion of living life on one’s own terms and not be held hostage by the dictates of a society steeped in conservatism and of political parties which believe that their agenda can only advanced if the country is made forcibly to conform to khap panchayat-style social and cultural norms.

Also Read: Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Instant

To these youths, being or not being aware of homosexuality is of little consequence. What matters to them is to be able to make up their own minds and not be told by elders to abide by certain rules which are regarded as outdated by the younger generation.

If parties like the BJP and “cultural” organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation. (IANS)