By Promod Puri
Silence is golden!
But in India of today, it is not. Rather it is a political, social, and even communal contamination which is almost annihilating the very roots of democracy in the country.
For leaders in power and those who are not, silence is a strategic political tool. In the recent maniacal violence over the film Padmaavat, both the ruling and opposition leaders have remained quite tight-lipped for reasons determined by politics.
Silence is a sinister whip of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) which has silenced the top brass of the once mighty Congress. Sonia Gandhi is silenced, and so is her son, party president Rahul Gandhi. Veteran socialist Lalu Prasad Yadav is being silenced, but the Bihar “lion” is still roaring while in jail. Silence gizmo is also being tried against parties who are not members of the big family, aka “parivar,” of the BJP.
On the issue of Padmaavat, the entire Indian film fraternity is silence because that is the norm now. Towering personalities like Amitabh Bachchan must have by now seen the movie secretly but dare not express themselves as for why this hullabaloo.
In the enforced era of silence, known intellectuals and academicians are silent. The fear of reprisal has gripped the intellectual, academic and writer community. For Arundhati Rao, her “ministry” is perhaps advising her to remain silent or already being silenced thru the disturbing court experiences she had a few years ago. The voices of dissent are often blocked out by bridled media as well.
The Indian media, with some exception, is tactically silent as it wants to save some of its credibility as well as keeping a ‘good boy” behavior with the saffron raj.
The raj avails several practices and arrangements to steamroll its rule of silence. Judiciary, the Central Intelligence Bureau, the income tax department, the police forces, media, the vigilante, lynching and murderous goons, fanatics, and bigot ‘bhagats,’ the ignorant middle class, and the social media are the channels to run the Indian democracy toward fascism.
Silence is generating fear in all sections of the Indian society. And that is the social aspect of the rule of silence. Minorities, the lower class and caste, and poor people dare not express themselves in the communal atmosphere as silence is imposed on them.
Silence is breeding apathy. When the Padmaavat controversy started brewing a few months ago, apathy, especially in the middle class, could be sensed from the expression “it is all publicity stunt.”
The democratic traditions of India, which are still intact in its constitution, were established by its author, Dr. Bhumirao Ramji Ambedkar, who broke the century-old silence of the discriminatory social order promulgated in the Manusamriti.
Martin Luthor King condemned silence when he declared: “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
But in India of today silence is the governing force which has almost silenced the political, secular, and intellectual sentiments and culture of the nation.
To silence the Silence is the challenge for India now.