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Intolerance to anyone perceived as the ‘other’ is growing by the day in our country. Are we really a ‘fit nation’ in these terms, if our emotional and metal fitness is questionable?
The ‘Fit India’ campaign was launched by the Prime Minister of India a few days ago. We really hope that it gets all the success it deserves.
But regardless of how successful it may or may not turn out to be, it cannot gloss over the fact that we as Indians have become more mentally ‘ill’ and intolerant. What’s even worse is that many amongst us take pride in this behaviour.
Any society than not just tolerates, encourages or even justifies mob lynching, hate speeches, fake news and propaganda, casteism, communalism, racial or gender and discrimination does not have the right to call themselves fit and healthy.
We are willing to vote for politicians and governments (of any party) which actively engage in corruption, divide people, take their rights away from them, and force them to live in sub-human conditions as long as they seem to serve our narrow self-interest.
The level of indifference that we have towards our fellow citizens is astounding.
We are willing to deceive ourselves that all is well in Jammu and Kashmir because of abrogation of Article 370 when it’s clearly not. We want Kashmir to be a part of India but we don’t give a flying f**k about the Kashmiris living there.
It doesn’t bother us that Kashmiris (especially in the valley) have been forced to deal with abysmal communication and medical facilities over the last month. It doesn’t bother us that many of them have been detained by the police or the forces for frivolous reasons. It doesn’t bother us that there are allegations of serious human rights violations and extra-judicial killings in that state. All we care about is wanting to have that piece of land under our grip.
We prefix India with ‘Mother’ but turn a blind eye to injustices like rape, dowry, harassment, foeticide and subjugation to the men in their family which are being faced by the almost every member of the female gender in our country. We treat them as ‘Paraya Dhan’ ever since they are born and rarely allow them to make decisions concerning their own lives.
We deny the Scheduled Castes, Tribes, and Other Backward Classes their basic rights while forcing them to take up unhygienic, unhealthy and extremely demeaning occupations like manual scavenging. We still treat them as untouchables who can never be equal to us in stature, and use violence to justify that.
Many in this country are extremely obsessed with ‘White or light-skinned people’ and would only prefer to marry someone having that skin colour (look at the matrimonial ads).
We are clearly one of the most racist countries in the world but we will never admit it. It’s not just that we discriminate and demean anyone who has a darker skin tone than ours, we even have the shamelessness of justifying any sort of physical and psychological violence against them. Incidents of unprovoked violence against African students because of stereotypes that they are either drug traffickers, cannibals or child traffickers is very common in our country.
Our conduct towards people from the North-East of India is also not something that we can be proud of. We regularly subject them to verbal abuse because of their Mongoloid features and treat their women as someone with ‘loose morals’ just because of their dressing sense.
Communalism has become even more visible and nasty in the past few years. There is an alarming rise of ghettoisation and otherization between communities. They don’t want to live together anymore. Incidents of violence have made it difficult to trust each other.
Differences, both real and perception-based, have increased. And so have insecurities. Political parties are secretly delighted by this as it can help them secure permanent vote banks, which in turn helps them stay in power. So it is in their interest to feed into our paranoia and make it stronger. Media does not want to address this because they are either too scared or too corrupt to stop the politicians.
And let’s not forget how the LGBTQIA+ community is treated in our country. Even thought Section 377 was decriminalised a year ago, this community has still not found the acceptance it deserves. The Transgender community has been subject to a shockingly offensive amount of discrimination both in our society and in the media. Our film industry has also played it’s role in promoting the stereotypes just to make more money, without wanting to realise the damage that it has done to that community’s self-esteem.
These are just a few instances of how mentally ill we actually are as a society. And I am not even talking about mental health issues like depression. It’s time we focus on removing the prejudiced mentality that we claim to be proud of. We can’t hide it behind the ‘Fit India’ campaign anymore.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: vectorstock
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