Need Platform for healthy political debate

Coming as this does from me it may surprise many, that I should be writing a note on ‘protecting’ the release of Shahrukh Khan’s movie, My Name is Khan.

There is no backing away from my earlier view that Shahrukh has been deeply disrespectful of India and Indians when he exhorted the virtues of Pakistan as a neighbour.  While Shahrukh’s views have to be contested and rejected if I may dare say, but there is no way such an action could be left to a jungle raj.

The mark of a true democracy must be the degree of probity it has. There has to be probity in agreement or disagreement and civility in managing differences. Stifling the voices of disagreement is not the way one should be propagating his/her ideology.

The rule of the law must prevail at all circumstances.  It is extremely shameful that the most prominent Indian metropolis, the city of dreams for millions, should be held hostage to a regional party with the entire state machinery cowering before it.

In this context, despite the claims of India being the largest democracy in the world, I often wonder whether we are a mature democracy. Yes, our elections are largely true and fair, if we ignore some aberrations especially in TN and the lure/role of money/freebies (courtesy the DMK) ; we have a thriving multi-party system even if at the end of the day they get coalesced between a right-wing fascist formation or a pseudo-secular one.

But as a democracy what have we achieved in having a clean, honest debate about any political issue ? Nothing at all ! The political speeches that dominate the election are full of rhetoric, personal vitriol and show of one-upmanship.

It is absolutely shameful that a nation as vast and as diverse as ours doesn’t recognize the need for a platform to have a decent debate about issues.

Imagine this : Instead of all the drama that is unfolding in Mumbai, how it would have been to create a platform where the Sena’s representative could talk to Shahrukh and seek his explanation ?

Or as another option, how wonderful it would be if the Sena would make a peaceful appeal to the patrons visiting the cinema halls explaining their point of view and imploring them to boycott the movie ?

As a country can we ever get to some basic level of political decorum or will our politics will always be characterized by thuggery, muscle power and goondaism ?

During the run-up to the last general election, I was hoping against hope that Manmohan Singh would agree to the gauntlet thrown at him by Advani, challenging him to a televised debate. Sadly the Congress responded with political rhetoric.  When the Prime Minister aspirants don’t engage in a civilized political debate, I am not convinced about the vibrancy of our democracy.

As to the release of the movie, My Name is Khan, whether it would be eventful or a damp squib would be known in a couple of days.

Whichever way it goes – If Sena is successful in preventing the release falling back on it’s muscle power or the Government cowering to the Sena and deploying disproportionate force – they would have only reaffirmed the fact that we in India, are miles away from being a mature, responsible democracy.

Whether it is Uddhav or Ashok Chavan who emerge politically victorious, their democratic credentials have miserably failed. If they cannot convince people to see or not see MNIK using the platform of healthy discussion, they are in my book, front runners for it’s political sequel – My Name is Cant.

About hariharanbond
I am who I am !

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