By: Keyur Seta
Earlier this year, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced November 26 to be celebrated as India’s Constitution Day this year onwards. This was the day in 1949 when the Constitution of India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly for an independent India.
Unfortunately, the first Constitution Day of India has arrived at a time when the basic Constitutional value – Democracy – is under grave threat. It has come at a time when a person expressing his fear of intolerance is being targeted as if he is a dangerous criminal.
You have every right to be disappointed with Aamir’s statement about his wife Kiran Rao considering relocating to another country fearing intolerance. Even I didn’t like what he said. But does that give you a right to burn his effigies, blacken his posters publicly (violence) and, worst of all, write and share the most vulgar posts about him on social media? Some of the things said are not even fit to post here (check yourself).
By doing this, these so-called nationalists have only managed to prove Aamir right. I always thought there is growing intolerance in the country. But the disgraceful manner in which people have reacted has increased my fears manifolds. In fact, even Ajmal Kasab, who carried out the terrorist attack on Mumbai on the same day in 2008, wasn’t ridiculed in this way.
But Aamir is not the only one at the receiving end. Almost anybody who criticizes the government or any of its leaders is attributed titles like ‘anti-national’, ‘anti-Indian’, ‘Pakistani’, ‘leftist’, etc. Many are ordered to migrate to Pakistan. Even a polite criticism is met with filthy abuses.
Another important feature of our Constitution is Secularism (I know people following a ‘certain’ ideology get panic attacks at its mention). Sadly, this aspect too is now limited to school books. Ruling party leaders, including elected MPs, have been openly giving communal statements. The Dadri Lynching episode, where they even justified the ghastly incident, made things worse.
It has been almost a year and a half of such statements from those who are elected to govern us. But so far, no action has been taken against them, not even a mere suspension. The atmosphere right now is such that the mere mention of the word ‘Secular’ literally generates verbal violence. The scene is vulgarly worse on social media.
Hence, the first Constitution Day wouldn’t have come at a more ironical time. This gives rise to some simple questions – Is merely celebrating Constitution Day enough to respect it? What is the point of celebrating when we can’t implement the most basic rights it provides?