Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The Word Of The Year '15

My mornings almost always follow a worn out pattern that has been followed by me with a very steady punctuality over the years. I wake up to the somewhat benign chimes of bells as my phone belts out its first alarm and does its best to shake off my REM sleep. After several hits on the snooze button, I finally drag myself out of bed and try to shrug away the sleep from my caffeine-lusting brain.
No alarms and no noise can do the job for me though, and it is that first merciful cup of coffee that is my true friend, my true savior.
As I come back to life and to the world each morning, I always sit with the day's newspapers to sort of remind myself that there is, indeed, a world beyond the four walls that bind me. This has always been something that I look forward to and find solace in; a cerebral exercise for the general knowledge points it helps me gain, and for the fact that it puts a lot of things in perspective for me. More often than not, newspapers are bearers of bad news. This is an unfortunate and age-old truth that I believe in, and it doesn't imply that I am being pessimistic or glass-half-empty when I say so. A murder here, a rebellion there, a robbery here or a political quarrel there. Out of all the headlines you read in the papers, very few will spell out good news of any kind. There is nothing new or unusual about this corollary of mine.

However, I find that over the past few months, there has been this unfamiliar shroud of darkness that has cast its shadow over our papers and magazines. Everything that I read these days announces in an unfriendly hiss how everything about our country is going to the dogs. In fact the articles sound so disturbing to me that my father and I find them akin to a soothsayer's morbid predictions.
Suddenly, it has become trendy to call everyone intolerant. I'd go so far as to name it the word of the year. (And the Word of the Year 2015 Award goes to INTOLERANT! Applause please!).

Now here is my two bit about what I have deduced from this growing wildfire.
With a change of governance there will obviously be very visible changes in our society and in our administrative structure; if not, then what would be the whole point of the electoral process and of democracy? You might as well just embrace anarchy or a dictatorship then.
I am no fan of Narendra Modi or his saffron-clad cronies, neither am I a fan of Rahul Gandhi, unless of course you're referring to his severely humorous memes which I unabashedly enjoy. I'm of the cliched view that every politician is nearly the same, and even then, it isn't just the leader who molds and frames the set-up. Every single man or woman we voted for and put in power does that for us as a team, as an anastamosis of minds and hearts.
This sudden rage of banning beef or alcohol or maggi (by far the cruelest ban of the year) or films which show India in a negative (yet true) light has created a very angry, very hostile atmosphere. But what it has created to a greater and more dangerous degree has been that opportunity for the Opposition party which was spurned and burned mercilessly in the last elections, and rejected from the centre without an apology or a second glance, to recreate the perception of the BJP in the eyes of each Indian who voted for it.
There is no doubting the fact that the present Censor Board folks have taken cinema in India back by a few hundred years. You cannot beep out a word here or blur a kiss there and still expect the art to remain untouched and complete. In this regard, if nowhere else, I do agree with the anti-intolerance brigade. I suppose I speak for all cinema-loving Indians when I say that the statusquo of our censor board is not very bright or happy. These folks need to be waken up and brought out of their time machines; it's 2015 guys, not 1899.

Apart from this singular point of agreement, I do not find anything different or noteworthy in the common man's life. I agree that the arrival of the now-infamous 'achhe din' is still a mysterious date on our calendars, but apart from that, life is much the same for everyone in the subcontinent.
According to me, the only difference now which apparently makes us 'intolerant' is the overuse of hashtags and the domination of social media over our lives.
It is so easy for us to start such trends today; all it takes is one bored idiot with a smart phone, some time to kill, and a poorly inspired vendetta. And before you know it, your vendetta might just go viral and spread over the world with a relentless unwavering march. The patience to weigh one's words before uttering them, and the conscientious judgement before making a public statement seem to be lost amongst us today.
If for nothing else, I shall remember 2015 for the year that we were declared intolerant by our own loud voices, and for the year where a hashtag gained greater power than the truth. What a world, and what a year!

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