The fault lines are getting wider and visible. It is no secret that caste and religion have been part of the campaign strategy of political parties to mobilize voters for long. An optimist would have vouched caste and religion would subside from the political arena every passing day, the pessimist would think otherwise. As it stands, the pessimist remains vindicated. If in doubt, have a look at the U.P. election campaign and the way various political parties have allocated their coveted positions within the party. Not one political party have taken a progressive view on this. This pattern of caste and religion arithmetic is more prominent in U.P. given its significance of the state by the number of Lok Sabha seats and assembly seats (read Rajya Sabha seats).
Democracy is by far the aptest process that ensures representation of all sections of the society into the policy-making realm. Elections alone do not make a Democracy, an independent judiciary, civil society, individual rights, human rights and a host of other institutions and rights contributes to the definition of Democracy. As part of the large wide definition of Democracy, it is also the way political parties appeal to voters, the norm is and should be all political parties should appeal to all sections of the people rather than every political party trying to take a slice of the cake (read section of voters). The former will make the competition between parties a healthy one, it will bring the important issues to the forefront rather than divisive and polarising issues. The latter will continue to reinforce stereotypes, keep the most important issues like environment conservation, climate change, infrastructure out of the public policy debates.
How can it be enforced ?
Unfortunately, there is no straight forward answer and it will be hard to codify behavioural politics. However, people and political parties can come together and sign a binding agreement, keeping nation’s interests above everything and agreeing on common minimum code of conduct for electoral behaviour which can be overseen by the Election Commission and for such a change to happen, the constitution should be amended that empowers the Election commission with such powers so that it could be enforced effectively.
It up to us to stand up
We have too often seen political parties, their statements, actions and consequentially their governance reflecting their vote base, a base built on appeasement or prejudice against caste’s or religion. Good politics can work well for all, it is for the people to stand up, unite and raise their voice against the regressive and divisive politics practiced by various political parties across the political spectrum, else, the downward spiral which our Democracy is heading to could get to a point of irreversibility that will result in multiple fault lines in the society and thereby hampering social unity and economic progress.
It’s so easy to say, “Follow your heart” or “Follow your dreams” but when one actually tries to take that leap of liberty, the society reinforces its shackles. In myriad ways, the age-old traditions come to stop the dreams of the youth. This is more manifest in the case of girls and women. However, passion can’t be contained and restrained for long.
This is the story of Roshni Misbah. Breaking stereotypes, she aspires to be a professional racer. Her journey has been tough, to say the least. Consider this, a hijab-wearing woman riding a sports bike with panache on the Indian roads amid stares, taunts and jeers.
The parents at home know too that society will be unkind and hesitant to accept someone who is flouting the age-old norms. Perhaps, this is why the parents resort to worry and scoldings. However, if the fire of liberty has been lit inside an individual, then it’s only a matter of time before they will rise like a phoenix, gloriously new-born from the ashes.
Roshni has covered over 15,000 km riding more than 60 bikes. She shares, “The sight of a girl on a sports bike deeply dents egos of some men and the taunts start.” It’s not easy to follow one’s dream if there are self-proclaimed proprietors of ‘decency’ at every nook and corner. Yet, Roshni stands tall.
It’s not easy to stand up to your parents and then face the issues they warned you about from society. Is it not right to follow one’s dreams and one’s own heart? If people do not break stereotypes, then all the potential for achievement and innovation will die unfulfilled. If doing something does not break a law, then what gives the right to anyone to comment and object to it?
This is the 21st century. Till when we will allow ourselves to be controlled by the whims and desires of those whose opinions deserve no merit or consideration. If this is not the right time for talented and courageous women to take a stand, then when will that time come.
“When I will walk, you will stare. When I will lose, you will laugh at me, taunt me. But, at the speed of 234 km/h, I wouldn’t hear all this,” says an undaunted Roshni. It’s time we show our support to their leap of liberty and as a society, we come together and say #ChalBadhChal.
The Logical Indian commends the passion and spirit of Roshni Misbah and appreciates Leap 7X by Liberty Shoes for bringing up this story.