Monday, March 14, 2016

Dear PM Modi, if challenging status-quo is sedition, I too am guilty! by Ujjal Dosanjh

I am feeling “seditious”. I am. I am in India, my motherland, the land of my ancestors. I can literally feel the centuries of Indianness coursing through my veins. Though the arms I think of are of the peaceful variety yet it is impossible to escape the call of my conscience to arms.

From India I have been following the events surrounding the JNU and the allegations of ‘sedition’ and ‘anti-national’ being thrown about so recklessly. There can’t be any real danger to the world’s largest, well grounded and enduring democracy from some students shouting what may or may not have been irresponsible slogans. India is not some airy fairy place that is going to be torn asunder just because some students talk about whether Afzal Guru’s hanging was legally proper and just.

No one has the right to dictate what thoughts one can think or articulate even if they may be questionable in their very essence or how they are crafted including those that may cast doubt on the legal propriety of Afzal Guru’s hanging by India.

I have no time for any one picking up a gun to kill or attempt to kill any one let alone the parliamentarians of Indian democracy that Afzal Guru’s alleged associates did. And I have no time for those who glorify others such as Nathuram Godse who, in liberated India, killed the undisputed leader of the freedom movement. One could call those who glorify Guru or Godse or others like them misguided, gone astray or completely wrong.

But in a true democracy they have a right to be misguided, wrong or to be led astray. To call them seditious is to cheapen true patriotism and think India weak and believe that it will readily crumble under the weight of sloganeering by students at universities. I would urge the self styled definers of “patriotism” and “nationalism” in India to stop constraining individual freedoms and start worrying about students at its universities turning into book worms who never read a newspaper, shout a slogan or attend a demonstration to change the country.

If all the students become solely preoccupied by the marks they get at universities and how big their pay packets might be, in the end India will be a much lesser country and certainly not the country of the dreams of its freedom fighters. A degree of sedition and subversion, in other words an undermining and challenging of the status quo, is inherent in any movement for change. In that sense, RSS is subversive as it wants to change the nature of Indian state and so are all the political parties worth their name who have differing visions of India. If they intend no subversion of the extant reality — the status quo — then they have no business in politics unless they are in the business of massaging their own egos or plundering the country. .. read more:

Dosanjh is former Premier of British Columbia, and former Canadian Minister of Health.