Saturday, August 13, 2011

Aarakshan - For Ideas As Well

Will the government ban anything because I say I am 'hurt'? And will it tiptoe around everyone who can raise a stink at opportune moments, even if it means that we step all over a whole population who wants to see, read and appreciate another viewpoint. A viewpoint cleared by the government bodies and authorities themselves, a certification agency that knows enough (hopefully). So the work is passed by the law, the government and then brought back to be again scrutinised by the public. Why then should one have these agencies and certification bodies? Why not just bring it on to the people's court?

There is no doubt in my mind that Jha has shown reality and that too in muted terms in the movie. To be offended by certain dialogues shows not just intolerance, it shows that we only want everyone to see and read what we want to see - the truth be damned. In this case this is a work of fiction, not based on anyone's true life. Why should that offend anyone? Reality is much more starker and more brutal as we all know, even today.

The plight of the backward classes has not been rectified by the 'reservation' - they still suffer gross indignities, insults and discrimination. They are not a united lot, nor do they have powerful friends and lobbies - they are classes that are coming out of centuries of oppression of the worst kind. No one apologises to them for the indignities they were made to suffer, still suffer. Instead there is always an argument of how because of these 'backward' people, these 'reserved' people, we, as a nation are losing out on merit. It is not birth, or caste or community that confers merit - it is the opportunity that one gets to get an education.

One of the most highly educated people, a multiple doctorate educated in Columbia University and the London School of Economics, prominent among our leaders was Babasaheb Ambedkar, our first law minister, the Chairmman of the Drafting Committee of the Indian Constitution - and he was one of the first of the 'untouchables' to graduate in India. We are talking the turn of the last century - one of the first graduates! He did all his schooling sitting on a floor, away from the higher classes, not having the right to drink water until some higher caste gave it to him - lest the water be polluted and then, the higher castes who drank that water. Ambedkar got water form the peon and there is a famous quote of his which says 'no pen, no water' referring to those days. And he was a privileged 'untouchable' because his father was in the army and he lobbied to get his son admitted to the government school - other children of the 'untouchable' caste were not so privileged.

It is from these kind of conditions that stemmed out of the chaturvarna system of Hindus that we are today looking at this scenario. What is there to be 'hurt' in a movie that discusses or shows what is happening really? A movie with such big stars only means that these issues will be put out for discussion and debate in a society already nourishing much suspicion against one another. If there is a character who is anti-reservation let him say what he has to say just as the character pro-reservation has to say what he has to say. By muting them, or changing the dialogues, one is not going to change history. Or reality. In a nation where one community really does not understand the other, movies and other popular culture vehicles must be encouraged to show various view points, to reflect society. By deleting scenes, one deletes the from reaching audiences many years down the lane.

Unless things are shown in gross perversion of facts, there should be no reason for any bans. And if there is a story based on facts, on what really happened, let them be encouraged. Let them show what we are - the good and the bad. In fact if a movie shows a reality that shows one class in lower light, it only shows the type of thinking that exists. It must be shown.

As a nation, if we cannot treat everyone as equal, cannot respect and love one another as equal, cannot go over our histories and move on, we will forever be stuck where we are. We may in fact slide back. And that holds true for ideological differences as well!


Kiran Kumar Gutta said...

In India, all political parties have consensus only on idea i.e. No debate on “Reservation”. Is reservation system really required in the present form even after 64 years of independence?
Lot has changed. Review of the reservation concept is long overdue.
I do agree with you on “its not birth, or caste or community that confers merit”.
In my opinion, we should change our thinking. For example, if a person becomes an IAS officer due to the opportunity he got under reservation system, he (as a ethical citizen) should not utilize the same opportunity route for his children. But, sad part is that people take advantage of the system.

Harimohan said...

You are right Kiran. Reservation beyond a point is counter productive and makes men comfortable with being lesser than what they can be. A balanced system is required but with the politics of votes who is bothered about real empowerment? Freebies, shortcuts etc only keep the population in a state of stupor and ignorance. This is not just about the backward classes, it is true with all minorities as well.

Anonymous said...

So one generation is all it takes to overcome the hundereds of years of subjugation?


Harimohan said...

It cannot be. Centuries of subjugation cannot be wished away in one generation. But the bigger danger of reservations making lesser people out of perfectly capable people who can seize their right by merit, is also not acceptable. True empowerment of the classes that were left behind by society, forcibly, for centuries, and treated inhumanly, only comes when there is equality in every way. When they feel equal - and this cannot be done by always feeling as if one owes a favour to all others, as if one has taken away someone's share. True empowerment, equality comes when they feel that they deserve. And this aspect must be brought in one way or another if the system truly wishes to empower and free - else it is an insult to the communities that were left behind. They are in no way lesser.