The level of discussion among people is a good measure of the progress of that nation.
The poorer countries, like Venezuela, are riled with debates about basics like food, water and sanitation.
The wealthier countries, like Hong Kong, are engaged in a debate about extradition and sovereignty.
The weaker countries, like Syria, are battling for basic civil rights and survival.
The powerful countries, like USA, are talking about privacy and fake news.
I remember my grandmother often told me about religious riots and extremism which was common amongst large geographical pockets in India. She said that I was lucky I was growing up in a peaceful time and neighbourhood. She was right. I grew up at a time in Mumbai when I have barely ever heard a whisper of religious discrimination. Not only me but my father had friends from all religions and casts and they often visited our home on festivals while my father visited theirs as often.
When I was in college, I was privileged to be having discussions, not of religion, but those focussed around growth and economy. ‘Startups’ had become the buzzword and nobody really cared whether the cofounder or employee was of one religion or the other. Information Technology was hiring and metropolis’ were evolving. Sometimes, and very rarely, I have overheard older people speak ill of other religions and comparing them. Maybe, they have seen much worse than I have and that’s the reason for such deep seated hate. However, the fact that they talked about such things in close gatherings and whispers and not in the open made me confident that they understand that such comparisons are anti-social and there are far better and more important topics of discussion. I was also happy because I had never noticed young people my age bother themselves with such conversations. I found my grandmother’s descriptions of religion inspired hatred as a dystopian concept because India had emerged from the shadow of those discussions in to the light of its own Information Age. The graduation of these discussions represented how India had progressed as a nation.
However, in the last few years, I have noticed the hush whispers of religion based discrimination and comparisons become louder conversations. People are openly sharing their extremely biased and deep seated views on social media and attracting like minds. What makes me most afraid is people my age, in their twenties, are also engaging in such extremes conversations on Social media.
My appeal, especially to young people, is to engage in conversations that bring all people close rather than just the people of your religion or caste. I don’t care about a political party, a majority, minority, secularism or theocracy. What I do care about, is we – the young people, can stop this hate from passing on to the next generation by focussing on what is important.
We need to stop turning back the wheel of time and re-graduate our discussions to education, economy and healthcare. My most heartfelt request to every young person reading this: Let’s discuss better.