History and hypocrisy are the helixed hobgoblins of democracy. The first one claims to be the motherboard that rewired the circuitry of a previous dark time by turning it to an enlightened one. The other excuses acts of aggrandisement and appeasement by bestowing a cheap certificate of faux freedom—of freedoms of civilised society, like freedom of speech and expression. Freedom of imagination and the liberation of nationwide fraternity. Cornerstones of civilisation.
The hypocrisy of civilisation, however, lies in the mockery of these freedoms in their very name.
Hence Owaisi exercises his freedom of speech and expression by refusing the debt he owes to Mother India who offers him the privilege of being Indian. The pretentiousness of patriotism, the last refuge of the scoundrel, is evident in the shaming of Bharat Mata by a young political thug who has reportedly offered `1 crore for Owaisi’s tongue; after all, wasn’t a similar reward offered by a mullah from the same state for Salman Rushdie’s Satanic head?
History repeats itself and demeans principles by both defending and rejecting them.
According to 19th century British philosopher John Stuart Mill, for all philosophies to survive, “there ought to exist the fullest liberty of professing and discussing, as a matter of ethical conviction... however immoral it may be considered.” This, he argued, needs maximum freedom of expression to take all arguments to their logical limits, and not the limits of social embarrassment. Here he threw in the radical rider of the ‘harm principle’, which obligated a single curb on free expression: “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”
In these times when the dubious parentage of ideology is dependent on the percentage of parentage, and an outgoing political ethos is fighting the power of a belated nationalist surge, the essential idea of India that is Bharat is being harmed from both sides of the fence. At a time when the past and the present are being alloyed in the making of a new India, there is no room for traitors and fanatics.
Mother India is the symbol of free India, a timeless terrain that has withstood all ravages of cultural, racial and economic predators to emerge each time as a uniter of diverse elements who fight for her dignity and state of emancipation. She represented the soul of Indian civilisation during the freedom struggle. In its aftermath, the Congress and its adherents demonised her as a laminated Hindu identity. For the greater “secular” good, Durga was given a fake passport.
For Owaisi and his like, clinging to the regressive remnants of a drying mindset and rejecting Bharat Mata is a strategy of survival. For the ones who seek his bloodied tongue, she is a mascot waiting to be appropriated. The silhouette of Mother India cannot be cut to fit any size or ideology. She owns all silhouettes big and small, of mountains and rivers, cities and villages, temples, mosques and churches. Those who ignorantly use her as a credential measure do not understand the power of patriotism inherent in nationalism. Those who try to use her as an animal of faith do not realise that freedom of expression and opinion does not inversely mean intolerance of history.
There is no faith above Mother India. There is no psalm greater than Vande Mataram. She is the source of India’s knowledge, and the destroyer of medieval monologues. She is what we were, are now and will always be. Nothing more. Nothing less. And all that matters.