Sumpolites | Reflections on the 67th year of Independence.

Independent thinking, Informed Criticism, Introspective Analysis should be the way forward 

We are a nation, waiting. Waiting, hoping that men from their high towers will troop in and save us from ourselves We sit trolling people who cross into path we have laid for these people, we repeat missives that seem to hold clues to these people who might lead us, we favorite and share characters over a medium that gives us the illusion of a group while keeping us divided. The grand speeches of leaders have began to sound repetitious, the silence of the powerful vacuous. We wait to see if a new wind catches hold of a people who call themselves “the new middle class” . We hope they will rise to the occasion and move the mountains of ill governance, the crumbling institutions of knowledge and the decaying seats of those in power and usher in the age of these men who will change the direction our country moves in. We wait.

We rejoice in our new found class and in our imagined community while we wait. The middle class will usher in the revolution we murmur together like a million bees talking in 140 characters or less. All the while our little painted corners have simultaneously allowed us to fool ourselves into thinking that our thoughts are unique and our vision uncorrupted by the prejudices and biases of our fellow men.

What India needs on this Independence day is not the droning of a million bees, but a culture of independent thinking amongst its citizens. We have reached a stage in our politics, in our social and economic lives where independent thinking and critical introspection leads to mockery, and witch-hunts. We need to realize the truth in Rajaji’s words when he said

If subservience and slavish adulation take the place of independent thinking and criticism is never resorted to but with fear and trepidation, the atmosphere quickly breeds the political diseases peculiar to democracy

His article on “Independent Thinking” written for Swarjaya in May 1958 deserves to be read in part or in full measure. He says as part of his criticism on the collapse of independent thinking

The long reign of popular favorites, without any significant opposition, is probably the main cause for the collapse of independent thinking. “You have not gone far enough”, “You do not mean what you say”, – these are the only criticism that people venture to offer. No one dares to say “your policy is wrong and must be reexamined”. The opposition is at best a charge of inefficiency in carrying our policy or a suspicion of insincerity. There is no attack on the policy itself

We would ideally like to think that we have come a far way from the time when this was written, but our collective thinking, our inability to distinguish revolution from governance, our reluctance to learn policy to fight policy and our waiting for a people to save us from ourselves can and will lead to a situation when our independence will hold very little value. The time has come when we should get ourselves out of our corners, step out and think, talk and trouble ourselves into learning how to fight policy with policy and not with a parsimonious parroted post on public platforms.

67 years of Independent India needs 67 million and more independent thinkers and not 67 million and more retweets of one thought. Stop Waiting. Step out