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
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.