A few weeks back, I watched Bol, a Pakistani movie on women rights and religious fundamentalism. It was one of the most beautiful movie I have seen till now. Bol was the highest earner movie in Pakistan in the first week of its release. In India, unfortunately, it could not survive competition from ‘Bodyguard’-quite expected given our entertainment thrived population. For me, it was quite disappointing to see that our country is not receptive to such themes.
On further reflection, I realized that all our country ‘guards’ jump on to criticize government policies, their alleged atrocities, corruption, anything that requires correction from others. The same set chooses to be silent on issues that can potentially be influenced by our own actions. We love criticizing government for Lokpal bill, Maoists, Afzal, Commonwealth and what not. No doubt, these are all very important issues and deserve everyone’s understanding and attention but why do we selectively choose to skip issues that we ourselves could improve on?
In my view, our societal framework is the biggest constraint in our country’s development. We have become entertainment thrived youth with little drive to think of the bigger issues facing our society, of which government is only a part. Sometimes, and may be wrongly, I feel that all this drum beating about the way government functions is a form of entertainment for us as it does not require any corrective actions from our side.
To pick up an example here, consider position of women in our society (those who know me would know how obsessed I am with this topic!). Our society, be it Hindu or Muslim is so designed that the man is the facilitator of the family and a woman is the one who has to compromise, leave her family and serve her husband and his family. This goes for a well educated DSE student, a highly intellectual human rights activist, just about everyone in our country. Why doesn’t it ever cross such brilliant minds how unjust it is, how it is responsible for the gender imbalance in our society? All these people support the cause of human rights but do they ever think how they are part of a system (and in most of the cases, supporter of such system) that has snatched the right of a girl child to be even born?
By raising such a question, I am in no way demeaning those who stand for causes that deserve nation’s attention – all this is important for our democracy to be sustainable. However, we must try to bring about some important changes in our society. I understand that we are in the public goods dilemma when it comes to bringing about changes in the society, and this is precisely why it is easier to throw stones on some other entity like government to bring about the change. And isn’t it easier to condemn government for its lack of corrective policies in (say) protecting women than raising your voice amongst your relatives, friends and neighbours?
No change that is brought through parliament bills and our bureaucracy will ever be complete until we alter the way our society functions. Bills can provide us with institutions to work in but eventually we are the players in the system- until change happens within, until we aim to sensitize ourselves, our friends, family, all banging head on the government is mere cosmetic.