Feb 16, 2010
All of us are not sportspersons. But if there’s one game most of us excel at, it is the blame-game. We love to find a scapegoat for every little happening – if Tendulkar loses his wicket blame it on the maid who just walked into the room; if you get up late, blame it on the alarm clock; if you are late to office, it’s the fault of the auto fellow who drove so slowly; and if there’s no one to take the blame, catch hold of the poor stars and planets...this way a whole day passes by in pointing fingers.
But there are more serious issues where the blame-game has gone just too far and for too long. I speak of all the disturbances that Mangalore and India as a whole have gone through in the name of religion, politics, and of course, moral policing. Every time something happens, the first thing we do is look for people on whom we can dump the blame (like politicians) or go into the past and scrutinise the action-reaction or ‘as you sow, so shall you reap’ phenomena. I am not totally negating the importance of scrutiny of cause and effect or investigation of the propagators of crime, but only stating that to blame is easy, but what we need to do is to focus on the right areas which would help alleviate problems.
To take a case in point, the present tensions in Mangalore have evoked a great deal of debates nation-wide. At least one person in India will never ever forget the insult he was meted out: the ‘attack on democracy’ that he was made to suffer, regardless of the fact that attacking girls too is not sanctioned by our Constitution (now at least we know why we need Constitution in the school curriculum!!). We all know who is right and who isn’t, even if our rights and wrongs may not always match. I shall not go into this debate, but move on to the point I am trying to make.
If we were to take the whole chain of blame-game it goes something like this – Muthalik was insulted because of his infamous agendas and actions – his party blames these agendas and actions on western culture that the Indian youth have inculcated - the youth take refuge in their parents who allow them to be so - the ‘protectors of culture’ blame it on matters like conversion – while those who are actually converted shake off this blame. There are others too – blame on the media for bringing western culture, and media blaming the youth for wanting it and so on. In the bargain, what we lose is the focus on those young people who are brainwashed by either side – the western culture as well as the fanatics. We are left merely with a bunch of theories and ideologies, on which we simply debate without reaching any conclusion.
An acquaintance of mine who is doing research on communalism especially in Mangalore asked a group of students, which included me, whether we felt that the 2008 attacks on churches took place with a hidden political agenda, seeing that elections were due in April 2009. Reflecting on this point made me realise the futility of it all – it is easy to blame politicians and the government, but to do so is to simply wash our hands off the matter. The most we can do is not to elect the same politicians and the government – but how much will this help? A political party with agendas to create trouble will do so even if it is in the opposition. There’s nothing we can do about the politicians (the choice to vote being between ‘bad’ and ‘not so bad’), so it’s time we changed our focus.
For instance, take the pub attack in Mangalore in January 2008. Those who actually executed the attack were young people probably in their early 20s or even less. There were no politicians around, and what we saw was a bunch of youth merely carrying out orders. What is it that made them do it? Was it just the so-called need to protect our culture, or was it the lure of money from some quarters or something deeper, like jealousy or frustration? Or was it simply an ‘employee’ working for an ‘employer’?
There is a new fission taking place in Mangalore, and it is deepening every day. It is the fission between the haves and have-nots, those who can spend thousands at the mall in a day and those who can do no more than look at the mall from a distance. The latter cannot afford to seek entertainment in malls, so instead they seek it in pelting stones and creating nuisance. Each group blames the other when something like a pub attack happens, but neither is willing to introspect on their own actions.
Unemployment, illiteracy and poverty have been forever the cause of most of India’s problems, and it is no different in Mangalore. The need of the hour is to educate the youth who are every day becoming victims of political agendas or giving in to temptations of job and money. Their helplessness makes them vulnerable to promises of employment and money. Religion and culture are an added attraction, for such rhetoric touches their very core and evokes an emotional response which makes them incapable of thinking independently. They become like cattle willing to be led, without even stopping to consider that they are being given poisoned fodder.
On the other side of the coin is the fashionable MTV generation, the pub-going lot which only wants to enjoy and lead a relaxed, fun-filled life. It doesn’t matter if it goes against the values dear to their parents and grandparents, doesn’t matter even if they know that their actions may ruin their lives. This group lives for the present, where appearance and stylish gadgets matter more than anything else. There is a constant flow of money. They live a highly individualistic life, totally independent and enamoured with all the negative elements of foreign culture. Their fodder too is poisoned, but the difference is that it’s ‘imported.’ While the first group looks at the second with jealousy, the latter is indifferent or even patronising.
Neither group will accept that it is on extreme ends of the culture pole, each concentrating on its own end. What we need is the balancing of this pole – a middle ground where neither fanaticism nor addiction to unhealthy practices of western culture will rule - a position that is tempered with the best of Indian and Western cultures, and the right values, holding on tightly to what is ours while also accepting what is not ours but with discretion and sound judgement.
It is time the youth wake up from their trance and take in their hands the responsibility of cleaning up the city and the country of all its negative influences. It’s easier said than done, for it needs courage, unshakable will power, a heart of steel and an openness of minds and hearts. And most of all, it needs an end to the blame-game.
More from Anisa Fathima: