Is India a nation of such little empathy as to accept the quasi Emergency imposed on Kashmir?

What makes us so happy and willing to believe everything the government feeds us?

Updated - August 24, 2019 03:36 pm IST

Published - August 23, 2019 05:46 pm IST

“It’s impossible to talk to the first and second set, but it would be wonderful if the third set decided to see again,” writes the columnist.

“It’s impossible to talk to the first and second set, but it would be wonderful if the third set decided to see again,” writes the columnist.

As an imperfect but functioning democracy, and one that emerged from the horrors of Emergency swearing ‘never again’, it is astounding with what complete ease and gaiety a majority of our compatriots have accepted the quasi Emergency that’s been imposed in Kashmir . Have we, as someone asked, really become a nation of such little empathy?

I would say, not entirely. I believe not everyone is being driven by the same motives. I believe there are three distinct sets of people, each responding similarly but for differing reasons.

The first set, of course, is the fan club. These are like our dear Rajini and Vijay fans down South — worshippers who won’t spot a wart on their Beloved Leader’s face even in brightest sunlight. This lot thinks terror accused Pragya Thakur is potential PM material because Mughals. So Kashmir is jujubee , if you will allow me that wonderful Tamil slang for easy-peasy.

The second is the closet fan club. These ones pretend to bat for democracy but secretly ache for a dictator, someone who will order them not to pee on the walls and to put trash in the bin. They are too spineless to be aggressive by themselves, but feel delighted when someone else releases a river of testosterone for them to swim in. They are the ones who rejoiced during the Emergency because “trains ran on time”. Their jubilation with this government’s most despotic moves is the delight the class idiot feels when her smart, sassy classmate is marched off to the principal.

The third have blinded themselves deliberately. Like Gandhari. Deeply disillusioned with the Congress, they genuinely believe the present government is the one that will lead them to the promised land. Because they need so desperately to believe this, they suspend disbelief to a very great degree.

They believe the government’s motivation in Kashmir is really to develop a “backward region”. This, despite statistics that show its high scores across indices . None other than the government’s own NITI Aayog puts Jammu & Kashmir in the ‘performer’ category in the SDG index (Sustainable Development Goals), next to Goa and Maharashtra. J&K ranks No. 3 in life expectancy ; it has one doctor for 3,000 people compared to Bihar’s one for 28,000; at No. 8, its poverty rate is 10.4% against the national average of 21.9%; its 2016-17 per capita GDP is ₹62,145 to Bihar’s ₹25,950. I could go on and on.

This doesn’t mean J&K can’t improve further or that there is no terrorism there or no disaffected youth. It merely means the Valley wasn’t seized for “development,” as the third set wants to believe. If that were the goal, the BJP’s coalition government there could have achieved much in the last five years.

This set blindly believed that Kanhaiya Kumar led a “seditious” rally in JNU. Now, the wife of the BJP MP in Ladakh has told Rahul Kanwal in a TV show that she was in JNU at the time and Kumar was framed. Watch the video, before a truck runs over it.

This set sincerely believes it voted in ‘economic reforms’. Now, as companies pile up losses and lay off workers and big industrialists finally talk of the decline, will they see that Mr Modi is no more interested in the economy than he is in J&K’s development or the unseen tiger in Jim Corbett park?

Already, the ground is being laid for some absurd population control move. Again, the professed reason is India’s spiralling birth rate.

What’s the reality? As per NFHS-4 data, India’s total fertility rate or TFR is steadily falling. At 2.2, its TFR touches the global replacement rate of 2.1. Let’s cut to the chase — States with significant Muslim populations like Bengal and Kerala and Muslim majority States like J&K have a TFR between 1.6 and 2, below the replacement rate. Second, the sharpest fall in TFR has been recorded by Muslims. From 2005-06 to 2015-16, Muslim TFR fell 23%, while Hindu TFR fell 18%.

It’s impossible to talk to the first and second set, but it would be wonderful if the third set decided to see again. Let me leave them with what Amit Shah said late last year in a UP rally. He said, “We can spread any message we want among citizens. Sweet or sour, real or fake. We can do this because we have 23 lakh people in our WhatsApp group.”

Where the writer tries to make sense of society with seven hundred words and a bit of snark.

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