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Don’t fall prey to religious bigotry; come out of WhatsApp University: Ravish Kumar

Hyderabad: Love is bitter and sweet. But which is more sweet – the bitterness or the sweetness? When he penned his first book – Ishq Mein Shahar Hona, he thought there is love everywhere in India. But five years down the line, Ravish Kumar, finds the opposite to be true. “I have stopped writing about love as I find nafrat (hatred) all over. Now I am trying to bring back those who are led on the path of hatred,” says the veteran journalist cum author.

His conversation with Nilanjana Roy at the Jaipur Literary Festival (JLF), has garnered many views. And it continues to be popular on social media platforms. The celebrated journalist waxed eloquent on the present situation in the country in his inimitable style. As usual he spoke his mind, calling a spade a spade. He conveyed the message to the audience through subtle and sometimes blunt remarks. He had such a connect with the audience that he just dropped phrases like – identifying people by clothes, tukde-tukde gang, award-wapsi gang and urban naxals and everyone connected with his deep sarcasm.

The peddlers of ‘sampradyikata’ (sectarianism) are hiding behind the cover of ‘rashtravad’ (cultural nationalism). He wanted to remove this cover and expose the true face of the ‘communal people’. For this he had to dovetail all his roles into one – Nagrika ki bhoomika. He was not a ‘netawala behroopia’ (tricking politician) but a ‘nagrik’ (citizen) who sees here, there and everywhere. “The eyes of a citizen are alert like those of a soldier on the border. He sees himself, his surroundings and also the politician who lies. If we don’t take part in this movement then the storm of oppression will blow us away.

It is necessary we all join this citizenship movement since there is no higher position in a democracy than being a citizen,” remarked Ravish Kumar touching off a round of claps.

The NDTV news anchor, who is known to give voice to the voiceless, said he started writing and speaking with the sole aim that people would speak up one day and make it difficult for those who want to put restraint on free speech to utter lies. “Something appears to be happening and I hope more of it will be seen in days to come,” he said.

Has the country lived up to the promise of ensuring equality and providing social, financial and political justice? The answer is a big NO. The country failed in keeping this promise. Although in different times attempts were made by different people, we failed in giving equal opportunity to people. Not that the country has not achieved anything. It has achieved. “But we have not even reached the halfway point of the journey where we can stand up and proclaim we have achieved this much and would surely achieve the remaining,” he said.

Strangely people never had the opportunity to see the Constitution book either in school, college or in their entire life span. Today people are at least holding the Constitution and it is on their lips. But he would feel happy the day people start living the Constitution. This is essential since there are inherent contradictions in the country and choosing an honest way has become difficult. Multiple identities are coming in the way of the Indian identity. “We never took the question of citizenship seriously. We tried to make a good son and a good daughter but never thought of making them a good citizen,” he remarked.

Ravish Kumar drew loud cheers when he spoke about people accepting dowry and identifying people with their clothes. “You don’t know this,” he asked and said how the Prime Minister, Narender Modi, spoke such a ‘low thing’ occupying such a high office. Only a person whose mind is obsessed with Hindu-Muslim all the time could speak such a thing.

In fact the Prime Minister challenged the intelligence of the people. By talking about Hindu-Muslim for the last five years he reduced people to such a level that he would simply ask them to identify people with their clothes and they would do it.

Hindus and Muslims, Ravish Kumar said, shared a blood relation with the country. They are the soul of the country. And the soul has no dress. The dead body is covered with a shroud and not the soul since none has seen it. So don’t try to put clothes on the atma. The British knew Mahatma Gandhi through his suit. Therefore, Gandhi removed it and moved among the people with just a langot (loincloth). Identify Gandhi with his clothes. “For last five years the bina kapde wale fakeer is being murdered,” an emotionally charged Ravish Kumar said. In this connection he said how Shaheen Bagh has become a symbol of citizenship. “Those who sat there can’t be identified with just dress,” he said.

Ravish Kumar gave his piece of mind about the ‘godi media’ and how it has injected poison in people’s mind. They have to now just see the clothes and lynch someone as part of a crowd. This is not the order of the time. It is the proclamation of people’s madness. “Don’t do it. Else Gandhi will knock at the door of your sub-conscience and ask how long will you kill me,” the Magsaysay awardee said as people listened in stunned silence.

It is the same Mahatma Gandhi, he said, who inspired the fair sex to hit the streets. Many more women are now coming out. He asked people to develop the spirit of citizenship and stop falling prey to religious discrimination since everyone is equal as per Constitution.

He recalled the sacrifices of people who fought for a hundred years for this freedom. They did not even see the national flag. We have all digressed from the path. Time we come out of the ‘WhatsApp University’. The celebrated journalist sent everyone into peals of laughter when he asked them to love the man clad in Rs. 25 lakh dress. “I don’t want to take you away from him. Give your vote to him. But in return ask him not to give you chot (hurt),” he said.

When restrictions are being imposed and sedition cases slapped on whoever disagreed, he thought he should speak up. “Many people have gone to jail. I will also go. Come and meet me there, if they allow you,” Ravish Kumar told the audience. The country, he said, couldn’t tolerate anymore that people try to kill each other by identifying them with religion and clothes.

Ravish Kumar cautioned people about the dangerous game being played by the media and TV in spewing hatred day in and day out. This hatred would end up making youngsters murderers and killers.

He urged people to stop watching the TV as it would be a great service to the country. In this connection he recalled how the Prime Minister often remarked about not requiring any ‘madhyam’ (agency) when it was the TV channels which made up his image.