Apart from defining their history, the etymology of words give the the political and social scenario that surrounds them and are of much use in assigning meanings. In fact, in the short run, the way a society uses a word says a lot about changes taking place and the people guiding that change.
Listening to a YouTube video that used the phrase “global order” to define current situation internationally brought my attention to how value-biased these words used by the media are. While little has changed globally except for a challenge to the west from the societies that are suffering from its excesses, the “international liberal order” has changed to “global order” in the everyday parlance of the media. Also filled with deceit is the way in which some sovereign country rules are addressed as regimes, as if the authority they derive is not from the people but some idea of kingship. The speakers know it well- the trickery of their trade- and they also know the naive listeners who are eager to believe anything barked from behind a podium from a person in coat with cool manners.
Two years ago, I trekked alone to the Yelagiri hills that adorns the background of Jolarpettai railway station. That walk into nature had given me some much needed alone time and a chance to contemplate the value of silence along with how much meaning it carries in relation to the words. Like a beautiful piece of music, the silence in our speech speak just as much as the notes. Any listener to a one-sided lecture from his/her TV set must appreciate the risks such music carries. The music may lead to a deep slumber or hallucination of Shangri La and close eyes to the reality that was so obvious if silence was observed.
“Speak only if it improves upon the silence”
-M. K. Gandhi.
The recent disappearance of liberal bloggers in Pakistan has brought concerns of freedom of speech and expression back in the news bureaus of the subcontinent. This follows the spate of attacks on bloggers in Bangladesh in past 2 years and the growing right-wing rhetoric in India. While all this can be blamed on the global upsurge of the right, the new medium of online expression of thoughts has also played its part, especially given the relative inexperience that the South-Asian society has with the digital media and the idea of free speech in general.
The outburst of social media in 21st century has introduced a vast population around the world to the western liberal ideals of post-renaissance Europe which has collided with the firm and deeply held cultural beliefs. The Indian subcontinent, while having a rich, diverse and accommodating synthesis of culture has not been immune to this clash of self-identity. This dilemma of the people of our region has much recent roots that took place during the British rule. The strong sentimental currents running through the population throughout the region thus give a very saddening canvass on which the rights-activists and liberals of our region draw their ideas. The recent disappearance has to be seen in this context.
The reaction of the civil society of all three countries in question has been mixed. While the general trend in Pakistan and Bangladesh has been to evaluate the actions of individuals on the alter of Islam, the Indian way has been to test expressions on the anvil of hyper-nationalism. The participants in debates have their arguments reduced to who qualifies as a true Muslim(or not), or as in the Indian case- who has been an anti-national by expressing his opinion. Even the rationalists are afraid to move the discussion away from this narrow interpretation. the Indian scenario, however, is more of a tide-of-time issue such that the deep history and strong foundation values of the freedoms struggle allow a cushion to writers and critique to prove their current ideas in relation to the founding principles of the nation. Pakistan and Bangladesh, on the other hand, have made the mistake of basing their existence on religion. This setting becomes a very strong barrier to any meaningful interpretation of modern world by the young generation.
While there is a need to be cautious for the liberals in the region, the changing world order give more hope than fears. History, for those who have read it, has shown that killing and suppression have only led to liberation and fearless resistance. The sacrifices of those who spoke their minds will be remembered and cherished by the future generations and the dawn of a free society will be glowing with the ideas of those who died to make it happen.
An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self sustained.
Had a very distant day today. Distant is the right word for how I feel, though I haven’t used it to describe a day before. After all, we are always in a day, we live through it. But you would know what I mean- we have all been there. That feeling of loneliness in a crowded city, that strong urge to escape from people and conversations to hide in your room, that analysis of life so far and what is to come.Like an old reel of movie playing in a dark cinema and you are the only one watching. And when you feel this way, you just wait for the pain to pass.
Thoughts are difficult to control, sleep doesn’t take away the pain either- your dreams are filled with echoes of cruel existence. You look at the emptiness in the hall, the tree leaves moving under street light, the clarity of sound of falling water in your shower. Everything seems to have a life of its own, except you. You are too old to blame people around for it, it won’t work. Everyone wants to see you happy- since you played your part so well in the play, they don’t know how you feel. You were the greatest comedian, and no one ever saw you backstage crying. Besides how many people actually know you in this world in any case. You were all too secretive about your deepest desires and now they hurt you alone. They got a hold of you in this darkness. You just wait for it to pass.
But it will go away, it always does. This is not the first time you are going through it. It can’t harm you, you were build in this same hearth.Maybe the memory just ran week over all these years of joy. But life has its way of going in circles, and your inner metal won’t burn along with your outer clothes in this passing-through ceremony. You will come out shining again, devoid of all those fancy clothes you bought on the way. Renewed and glorious.
आखिर कब तक परछाईयों में जीवन,
धुंधला -धुंधला सा मादक चितवन,
ढूंढना जवाब सवालों का,
जिनका सन्दर्भ ही छूट गया,
कब तक करना यादों का विवरण,
कब तक विवेक से दूर हकीकत,
आखिर कब तक ।
बीते कल को फिर से जीना,
मुस्काते चेहरों पर आहें भरना,
वो चेहरे जो बदल गए,
कल के ऋतुओं की बारिश में,
उन चेहरों से महरम की हसरत,
कल पर गुमान की यह फितरत,
आखिर कब तक ।