12 Jul 2017 06:33am IST
Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.
Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Today India is at the same cross road as Martin was then, should we speak out against the sporadic or seemingly isolated incidents happening across the country or should we keep quiet, as it does not affect us directly. There is a small fringe element which is taking advantage of the tolerance that India is known for and creating a fear psychosis across the country.
It was a really a hard choice for me to make when I decided to write, should I not be focusing on what I think is a really good financial reform that the country has adopted, GST can change the country, it is designed to make more entities pay tax, it makes doing business simpler, it is forward looking. Surely there are going to be glitches in implementation. We know for a fact that learning to swim on land can have only so much of value, finally one has to jump into the water to actually learn to swim, and it is a good thing that after talking for so long, finally the plunge was taken.
However, “Acche Din”, cannot be measured in purely financial reform, it is also a factor of the environmental conditions we live in. Why should people be scared of earning their livelihood, or eating something that was not an issue at all.
Sitting in Goa, we can hear our leaders assure us that “ALL IS WELL”, that minorities have nothing to fear and that beef is not banned in Goa. Is that all we are worried about, it that all we have to think about and feel safe, think again, remember what Martin Niemoller had to say. Today the attacks and violence is in other States and if we keep quiet surely when it hits Goa, who will be left to speak up?
Consider the fact that two ladies had to face the might of the administration including the charge of damaging the National flag on the car of the Minister. Good sense prevailed and the charges were dropped. One can assume the ability to forgive came from the fact that the Minister concerned was forgiven in a threat to kill case. Yet, this same administration has no clue what to do when it comes to a Sadhvi threatening to kill every beef eating Goan and his cousin or someone wishing to drive anyone who is different across the border. These threats were made from a public platforms and the same leaders who are positioning themselves as saviors of the minorities are not demanding any action. No arrests, no ban nothing.
The impression given is that those who are wronged cannot expect justice, maybe that is why they are silent and those who threaten or assault or kill feel that nothing will happen to them. Exactly what happened in Goa, no action was taken other than lip service which means nothing.
The Prime Minister who is very vocal and has a very good orator skills finally made a statement on the lynchings, but it lacked the usual punch, yes he did say that one should not take the law into one’s own hands but what message did he give the law makers? Did he motivate them to ensure that nothing like this happens again? A small slap on the wrists, and life for the fringe gets bolder?
It is becoming increasingly clear that any criticism of the Government on any issue is seen as an anti national activity. There is no space for dissent or debate. If there was a debate or discussion then it would have considered the fact that the entire eco-system is effected by the ban and fear factor and not just for minorities, most farmers belong to the majority community, what do they do when their milch cattle do not produce, can they just feed them for free or do they just leave them to die, considering that many are unable to feed themselves and hence committing suicide.
What about the 1000’s of cattle that die on our highways, because the owners cannot afford to feed them, they leave them to find whatever food they can find or just sit on the roads causing accidents. In the industrial estates these cattle eat rubbish and die either of poisoning or with plastic choking their gut. Does the system have enough funding or space for rehabilitation/home for the aged cattle? Will the gau rakshas use their collective wisdom and brawn to attend to these issues?
No, they will not because they are simply using the poor cow’s position to further their own agenda. Their agenda is to create fear and uncertainty and hope that in the end they will profit. Therefore each one of us must stand up and speak up, let us not allow the fringe elements space to destroy the secular fabric of India. Let us force our elected representatives to act in accordance with the law and let new laws not be made either which infringe on the rights enshrined in the constitution. Jai Hind.
(The author prefers to write rather than chat in a balcao)