Set Goals for the young, Not BoundariesThe madness which visited Dimapur in Nagaland last week is not unprecedented; such horrors have occurred often in our country and across the world, exploding every time people allowed hate and paranoia to supersede humanity and faith. The belief that the victim had raped a “local” and the fear that he will get away with it were only the sparks – misinformed beliefs, shallow understanding of situations, complexes and an inflated sense of entitlement provided a ready mix of easily combustible emotions which exploded with such barbarism last week. Unfortunately, the issue of influx and the slogan of local protection are painted in such broad strokes that every condemnation of the anarchy which ended in a brutal murder is being qualified with supporting arguments talking about the impact of influx and speaking of problems like illegal immigrants. The passion which was whipped into deranged fury in Dimapur recently was infected with the same arguments that one hears right wing leaders spit with practised venom at every community they see as the “other”. They remain at the task despite repeated failures, but every once in a while they succeed, and from such episodes draw the oxygen for a new round of sowing distrust and ill-will.
One needs to also highlight here that while several commentators are seeing the Dimapur incident as an expression of public frustration against rape, it was not so much about a rape as it was about inflamed passions that the rape had been committed by an illegal immigrant. The local-nonlocal conflict had been drawn into the issue to force more people into taking stronger positions and running with the mob even though they are otherwise “law-abiding” citizens. And that is the danger of playing fast and dirty with local issues, especially nowadays when too many impressionable minds are within easy access of agent provocateurs – one sees the success of social-media propaganda as much in the Dimapur incident as in the UK where teenage girls have run from home to join ISIS.
What can one possibly say to groups and leaders who are grooming entire generations on an ideology of suspicion? Will they be able to achieve anything for the constituents they claim to represent? No. All they succeed in delivering is more paranoia, more hate, more pessimism, more violence. They will fail in addressing the real issues because they are approaching the challenges faced by their people all wrong. To blame someone else for everything that is lost is the argument of the ignorant and the odious opportunism of flawed mindsets. Even though external situations can influence personal experiences and shape individual futures, issues of identity, status, culture and heritage, even opportunities, raised by cliques that surface every time insecurities come around, are more nuanced and complicated; not offering themselves easily to straightforward categorisations of victims and oppressors. These are inheritances and opportunities that are squandered away more due to ignorance and non-involvement than the projected monsters of influx or poaching by others. If these are indeed issues that worry, the people, then they should be seeking increased empowerment, not imbibing hate or marking enemies. To blame someone else for the privations, whether personal or shared, is the excuse of the weak and any ‘achievement’ secured from this plank are hand-outs, not accomplishments of the proud. The knee-jerk reaction to expressed fears is the granting of quotas, reservations and even more “protection”. These, if our country’s experience of the past more than 60 years is any indication, enfeeble communities even more and create even more creamy layers of a handful of the privileged. These are, at best, fingers in the dike, not reinforcements behind which genuine empowerment can be nurtured, confidence cultivated.
Most insular leaders, however, are trying to build constituencies held together by hate-inspired paranoia, projecting a future that aspires for the past and closing doors when more vistas should be opened. Blame infects fear and fear breeds intolerance; these are handicaps, not virtues. Returning to the question of what one can possibly say to groups and leaders keen on grooming entire generations on an ideology of suspicion, how about this? Set goals for the young instead of boundaries...