Why is Indian faith in itself becoming so fragile? 



No doubt every country needs to reflect from time to time on certain core values which almost define its character.  But to expect consensus on such values is to mock at its evolving culture, it’s dynamism and its optimism. After all,  if our current form of beliefs and likings or disliking fits the environment perfectly, will there be a need to argue, debate or what ours ages called shastrarth. There are many  everyday belief and practice systems  which allow one to question almost anything. Paradoxically enough, I can not prove my engagement with a matter/phenomenon  unless I question. Ask any teacher and the class which he likes most is the one which generates much wider discussions, where questions to which he may not have had the best answer are asked.

Why is then questioning authority so despised in our society. How else our reflexes become sharp if we are not questioned. Charvaks were truly Mavericks during early Mauryan period . They respected no code, no limit on the extent to which they would go to question then prevalent dogmas of everyday life. Sometimes, they enjoyed provoking and thus were deliberately offensive. Is there any surprise that that period became golden period of our history. One of most reputed logical schema evolved at that time, thanks to the argument between Buddhist and other schools of thought. Why is a civlizational society  containing  for millenia most contradictory schools  of thoughts suddenly defines identities in such a narrow bound. Why does it feel vulnerable  by a few slogans?

Surely, if somebody does not accept constitution of India, we can not let that go unquestioned. But doesnot how do we question makes all the difference, particularly while dealing with youth? The liberties the person in question is enjoying are only possible because of the constitution he refuses to accept. If peer pressure doesnot work,  then we argue, educate, persuade and if nothing works, he is warned about the limits that apply on every citizen. He can not spread hatred or spread ill will among different sections of the society. But please understand, millions of people in West Bengal, Kerala and parts of the karnataka and north east have food habits which seem to challenge what is sacred for some or the other people. For such a long time, we have respected such  differences and that’s why every one considers this country as theirs. Even when some people on account of caste, look, belief systems or otherwise feel ostracised, we have violated the spirit of constitution.. Why did we not feel their pain as severely as we feel in other cases. May be through peace, persuasion, better vigilance, and reassurance, mutual faith was restored.

Academic institutions are the place where debate and dialogues help build a holistic personality of youth. I used to have debates between the notion of cultural nationalism and secularism in my first year class for many years. Students had freedom to choose whichever side they wished, some could remain neutral to begin with and depending upon the arguments, they could choose the sides. Other could shift the sides. Later they voted and best debating side carried the day. Why was it necessary for managers /future leaders to have such a debate: so that they would learn to deal with controversial issues even headedly, and manage differences peacefully and gracefully. They were also expected to learn that disagreements should not lead to mutual disrespect.

One such class involved debate between a prominent human rights lawyer, and then state minister of home, Gujarat, of course only open to students and faculty. I still remember the grace with which both of them handled arguments of  each other. Why can  not we have more such debates so that tolerance for   disagreeable arguments increases, we learn to listen and then share our viewpoints in civil manner and not through physical force.

At a time when the Prime Minister is inviting investments in the country to speed up the path of progress and development, such distractions did not make sense. India is far more capable of containing divergence of opinions and diversity of  values than what seems to be evident just now. Let not our faith in ourselves become so fragile; we cut a tree under which the dried leaves crackled too much to our taste.


Visiting Faculty, IIM Ahmedabad & IIT Bombay and an independent thinker, activist for the cause of creative communities and individuals at grassroots, tech institutions and any other walk of life committed to make this world a more creative, compassionate and collaborative place