I will write this at the outset: we are making a mockery of ‘democracy’..of the word, and of the set-up in the country. It is very very ironic that some of the richest people in the country have their grievances in the form of their infringement of fundamental rights, to the extent that some of them could actually go to Courts for all the sneaking that happens around them. But maybe, that’s the downside to being a public person. A public person’s life is seldom private, and his or her opinions (and I specifically mean the public persons from Bollywood, or people having anything to do with the film industry) are exaggerated (as if) to compensate for the lack of acting or drama in some movies. In my personal opinion, I can’t fathom why Mr. Rishi Kapoor’s comment on naming and re-naming of roads on Gandhis was such a big issue. Was it bigger than unenumerated and enumerated human rights crimes, or the drought situation in the country? Twitter is a micro-blogging site..it is what we call ‘social media’. Why is there so much hostility when ‘social’ media is indeed about self-expression (Supreme Court has already struck down draconian provisions of the IT Act)?

This is perhaps a trend. It is a popular (albeit incorrect) notion that film stars lead an easy life. Maybe that’s why they are hounded by many sadists after they express an opinion (which anyway is pretty rare for any film star to do..they are busy, like most of the working population should be, and this is the counter-argument to their ‘easy’ lives). When Shah Rukh Khan appreciated the need for creativity and lack of boundaries in art, and actually made perfect sense, he was criticised as though an outsider had expressed a viewpoint. I think many filmmakers, actors, producers, directors, writers etc..are in those professions because 1) they are talented enough to modify their viewpoints into creativity, 2) there is reason to not express verbally or through social media, because their opinions will rarely be considered credible. Is this a democratic nation? If the authorities can urge them to vote, why not integrate them into the purview of ‘citizens’ who are allowed to express themselves freely by virtue of the Fundamental Rights. I was appalled at the reaction to Mr. Rishi Kapoor’s comment. Atleast I did not see what was wrong with practising freedom without fear. The reactions on his comment have propelled me to write a post on it, but I am glad I am not siding with people who wasted and are still wasting time according importance to trivial ‘issues’, when we have so many relevant issues to deal with, by the blessing (or curse) of being the 7th largest (and extremely influential) country in the world.

I don’t yet have a stand on the recent judgment on Defamation (IPC), but one thing is clear: we are/were/always have been/turning into a nation of hypocrites. We are averse to freedom, liberty, equality, secularism, and all the things that our sacred Preamble stands for. I also realise that we are much better off, as compared to some really conservative nations, but we fail ourselves and our venerable Constitution each time we impinge on somebody’s ‘freedom’ (and I mean all the freedoms guaranteed to the citizens under Article 19). We are a ‘secular’ democracy where a Muslim gets compelled to change his surname to a Hindu-sounding version, in order to get a dwelling place for himself. This is a nation where Caste is not just a surname, it is an identity. This is a nation where prolonged battles were fought, people were martyred and families were sacrificed for the ultimate taste of freedom; and now, we are compromising the essence of a democracy and fighting trivial battles. I am not a pessimist, I truly believe in the potential of my countrymen and countrywomen. But I see these inconclusive discussions as a massive waste of energy, potential, and talent. Why should anybody’s ‘normal’ (within the ambit of ‘reasonable restrictions’) opinion be dissected, analysed, exaggerated, and turned into blasphemy?

Maya Angelou’s masterpiece, ‘Caged Bird’ should probably give an insight to poor time-managers and encroachers:

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

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