Sedition: noun /sɪˈdɪʃn/ [uncountable](formal) The use of words or actions that are intended to encourage people to oppose a government
Source: Oxford English dictionary
The reason why I have started with a definition sourced from the Oxford dictionary is to showcase the symbolism of the source itself. The University of Oxford is believed to be established around the year 1096 and is understood to be one of the oldest surviving universities in the English-speaking world and I have aspired to be a part of it at one point in life. That dream is still not dead. Even when the student left of the institution is alleged to be institutionally antisemitic as per news reports [Source: The guardian]. It is an institution older than the archaic section 124 A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code which is still mischievously providing ammo to issues that are hollow as an empty barrel; fueling fires that need not be stoked. Apparently, the word “Sedition” does not occur in Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code or in the Defense of India Rule. It is only found as a marginal note to Section 124-A, and is not an operative part of the section but merely provides the name by which the crime defined in the section will be known. [Source: Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow]
I am a proud Indian despite all that angers me about this nation. It angers me that after surviving on the same piece of land for 69 years, despite our differing cultural preferences, religious inclinations and ideologies, we can show no respect or tolerance to a thought that does not match ours. Thoughts change. Beliefs change. Change is the fuel that helps evolve a nation instead of intolerance and rising insecurity. Indisputably, open fearless dialogue should steer this change… but so should respect and tolerance. The confidence in thoughts and ideologies is imperative in debate for conviction, provided it doesn’t turn into arrogance. I doubt my nation’s knowledge and awareness on the multitude of cultures, traditions or even religions which have thrived and died in this country (beyond what is officially recognized) and I don’t blame them for that. The officially recognized religions and cultures in India form a rigid knowledge spectrum that limits a citizen’s awareness of anything that exists beyond it. We still have citizens who can’t differentiate between Tamil Nadu and Kerala, leave alone the cultural difference between the two states. The North East is still a mystery, in terms of its myriad cultures and tribes, to a lion's share of the nation. A niggling few might be aware of the struggles of civilians in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, while governments try to distract the nation, neck below. They can still not be blamed for their lack of awareness. However, curiosity is a far better reaction to areas beyond our comprehension, than medieval resistance and rigidity. Witch burning never killed evils, just gave birth to more.
India’s culture is not homogeneously distributed but it is not our Achilles’ heel. We are not weak enough to get incited by mere chants of inanity. Then how is this insecurity getting triggered? My brain sometimes starts spinning conspiracy theories around a greater agenda on the ruling party’s mind to probably deviate us from bigger issues. But when I look at the reckless handling of raging issues, I can only see insecurity and the helplessness at curbing a turmoil. What follows is desperation at proving your side and defending your stand.
Kanhaiya and Rohith are just talk points in the larger picture. They are vehicles for ideas and thoughts that can exist within India and can drive evolution in thought. These cases are not targeted at a particular government, but the society that eventually forms the four pillars of a democracy. These cases are opportunities for society to realize flaws in its thought process, direction and foundation. Kanhaiya and Rohith are citizens of India and were entitled to every right that an Indian citizen is entitled to. When defenders and facilitators of justice resort to blatant physical and vocal violence with an intensity which is garbed in patriotism for defence, it raises some grave questions. A society bound by words and laws defining a feeling shall never learn of it. A country trying to define patriotism shall never experience it. The debate needs to rise higher than religion and casteism. The dialogue should make every citizen of the country question their love for the country and how one defines himself/herself to belong to a country. Do we even want to belong to one country in the age of global citizenship? Because… honestly, it makes me sick; all this injustice in the name of nationalism.
In the end, quoting Charles de Gaulle to capture what could be a better debate in the country at the moment.
“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.”