The nation is burning. The electorate is conflicted. Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by both houses of Parliament has given rise to nationwide protests, at whose helm are university and college students. Reports of police brutality in retaliation to these protests are doing rounds on social media. A recent report also claimed that three students suffered gunshot wounds, while another claims that a student allegedly lost vision in an eye while simply being at the wrong place (university library) at the wrong time. And yet, there are many of us, who watch this unrest boil over quietly. They feel it is not their problem. They feel it is not their business. But if this is your country, your people, then how is it not your business?
- The Citizenship Amendment Act has stirred outrage in the nation.
- However many are choosing to stay mum over the issue, which needs to change.
- Speaking up doesn't just mean taking a side, but also clarifying your doubts and raising questions over other's understanding of the Act.
- It also means calling out fake news openly which intends to flare the situation further.
Speak up if do feel that CAA is unconstitutional. Speak up if you think that the issue is being politicised. What side of the debate are you, matters, but it doesn’t matter more than your willingness to have a constructive conversation about it.
Let us be clear here, speaking up here doesn’t essentially mean taking a for and against stand in the debate over CAA. It could also mean starting a conversation with your colleague. It could mean merely questioning what actually is CAA or NRC. There is no shame in admitting that you do not fully understand the unrest over this Act. Nor must you stop yourself from challenging its conception among those around you.
Speak up if you feel that CAA is unconstitutional. Speak up if you think that the issue is being politicised. What side of the debate are you, matters, but it doesn’t matter more than your willingness to have a constructive conversation about it. So speak up, but then be willing to listen as well. You may feel that you are on the right side of the argument, but even then there are so many critical questions that we need to be asking in unison, to the government, to the authorities and even to the media. If you do not endorse a particular view or action, then say so.
If you see a fake video circulated on a WhatsApp group by someone you know, say so. If you see someone with blue ticks or an impressive following on social media share photos or posts that are alarmingly provocative, question their authenticity.
Another crucial reason why you need to speak up is to ensure that no fake news or false information gets spread, be it in the name of activism or advocating ideology. If you see a fake video circulated on a WhatsApp group by someone you know, say so. If you see someone with blue ticks or an impressive following on social media share photos or posts that are alarmingly provocative, question their authenticity. If you have ended up sharing something which was then proved to be fake news, then do not hesitate to apologise and clarify.
When the Jamia Millia student-police clash came to light, a lot social media users urged popular Indian personalities; movie stars, sportsmen etc to speak up. The result was that we became privy to politically correct PR generated statements. Why do you think that is? Why do you think some of the top seasoned A-listers are still refusing to say something, anything, on CAA and the resulting protests? Maybe they know that whatever they say, they will be trolled and shamed.
The problem is that we only want others to speak what we want to hear. Alas, that is not how it works. And while you may be confident to your bones that you are on the right side of the argument, how does shaming those who do not agree with you actually solve the problem at hand? So when you find the courage to speak up yourself, do add a measure of patience and empathy to it, so that you let others speak up as well.
The focus should be on getting those opposing your argument to your side. If you truly believe that we are a democracy, then isn’t that what you should be aiming for?
Image Credit: Nivedita
The views expressed are the author's own.