I lived in the times of “Great Polarization”
The current affairs is filled with anti racism protests in the western world and somehow even in India, people are getting deeply affected by a recent tragedy. An American (the American society still categorises it’s population as Whites, African American, Asian etc. which I don’t understand and I think is the biggest problem in the battle for eradicating racism) died due to arrogance and ignorance of a violent cop in Minneapolis in United States of America. It was sad, unfortunate and a grim reminder(atleast for me) that power is scary no matter in which part of the world you live in. I have had encounters with the cops in Delhi and quite honestly they don’t uphold the “Delhi Police Dil ki Police” motto quite strongly when it comes to day to day affairs and dealing with civilians. Though the world moved way beyond feeling sad about the incident and in many parts of America, protestors turned violent and resorted to robbery and damage to public property. Many conservatives came out to denounce these actions but were soon criticised by their liberal counterparts by calling it dilution of the movement. They were correct to some extent as the President of the United States was all geared up to use this opportunity to increase his probability of winning the November elections. But what got lost amidst the chaos was a chance to gather both sides and debate. Probably a neutral stance is life threatening these days.
The world is a fairly polarised one these days. Many countries have elected conservative leaders who believe in consolidation of communities either on the lines of religion, caste, race or some other social concept to ensure a majority backs them. This era is also one of the most difficult one for the liberal leaders and their followers as their support base has been drastically reduced and every now and then the liberal leadership changes as the search for next Mr. Alex Ferguson continues (I will refrain from using titles like Sir which are honorary). But no one really halts to understand or analyse why the world at large decided to choose these conservative leaders in the first place? One of the many reasons is that somewhere liberalisation and globalisation failed the hopes and expectations of the majority population as it focused excessively on the marginalised and minority population. The pent up disappointment and anger had to explode one day. Till date, the liberal side is not ready to accept this flaw in their strategy (pardon me for objectifying the politics as I don’t believe that any side of politics these days exists for the greater good of humanity. Like a corporate manager, a political leader is focussed on driving objective Socio-Economic goals which can help him/her stay in office). Like the politicians, even media is highly polarised these days. A recent example of this is that I used to follow a social media platform called “Scoopwhoop” which was about casual fun but I saw it becoming more and more political in the last 12–14 months. Especially in the run up to the Delhi Assembly elections, they couldn’t have been more clear about their support for Mr. Arvind Kejariwal. Frankly, given the alternatives, he had to be the popular choice. Post the elections, they have been highly critical of the Central Govt. in India on issues and non issues so much so that it looked like a propaganda but what made it deeply troublesome was their non action or non reporting on the mismanagement by the Delhi Govt. in handling of the Corona crisis. Mr. Kejariwal got re-elected on the two pillars of Education and Healthcare and frankly the mismanagement of the biggest health crisis of our lives makes me wonder whether he has become more like Mr. Narendra Modi in his leadership style, “Market today, prove day after day after tomorrow”! Anyway, so this recent apathy of this social media platform made me unfollow it and that is where the problem lies on the liberal front. If the conservatives are mighty strong today, it is because a majority population doubts the intentions of the liberals. Being silent about your own flaws won’t help the liberals remove those doubts.
Many are concerned about what happened in America but many more are concerned with what happened afterwards. Violent protests only look good in commercial movies like V for Vendetta but honestly many of us are weak hearted, peace loving humans who would rather talk than pick up guns. My sister lives in America and she was petrified and also angry on what was happening around her. Shops robbed, public property vandalised and people forcefully locked up in their houses and not being able to earn their livelihood. Many conservatives have used this to garner support and this is where Mr. Donald Trump has found a second lease of life in this election. Why wouldn’t he use it? Not many western media houses are vehemently denouncing such violent protests. In fact many are saying that if we oppose these acts then the protests might lose steam. It can be a good strategy but it will alienate many neutrals and conservatives who are not getting directly or indirectly affected by this episode as they would doubt the intentions of the liberals again. I, being an Asian, face some sort of mild racism on every trip to Europe (Baring my recent trip to Iceland). It always is in the form of rude/impolite behaviour and I don’t think it will ever go away but even in the fight against racism, our race is marginalised as the slogan of the recent protest is “Black Lives Matter”. The slogan itself is accepting population division on the basis of color. I find it extremely disturbing. Many celebrities still call the so called “Black” Americans as “Afro Americans or Blacks”, do they call the so called “White” Americans as “Euro Americans”? as all of them migrated from Europe like “Blacks” migrated from America. They are providing the polarisation ecosystem that the conservatives thrive in, “Division”! It’s “Blacks” vs “Whites”. Similarly back home, there was a furore over a fee hike in Jawahar Lal Nehru University which saw huge support from mainstream media and political parties. I as a common man was hardly affected by it as JNU like many other centrally funded university has extremely low fee and none of the debates did a deep dive into the current financial viability of the university and why the fee hike is warranted or unwarranted (It was amusing to see a student of the university protesting the fee hike as he claimed he comes from a humble background yet he was using a Mac Book, dilutes the argument, doesn’t it?) Any debate is won by factual arguments and logical conclusions. Our Central Govt. has reduced the %GDP spent on Education from 3.4% to 2.7% in 5 years which is way below the world average hence makes it even tougher for India to increase its Gross Enrolment Ratio in Higher Education as part of Sustainable Development Goals . If someone would have used this as a base to denounce the fee hike, it would have made the arguments more strong but only a select few care about data in this world.
In the end, no matter how much hue and cry we raise against polarisation, the fact is that the world is now on 2 sides with no middle ground. I can’t be saddened by the death of an American or Indian or any other person due to oppression and also voice my concern and anger on violent protests to fight the oppression. It has to be either one of them. The centre/neutral side is dying in this “Great Polarization”, hope we can survive for just a little long to be able to declutter information from noise.