The Lazy Non-Analysis You Will Read Today (Because One Is Tired Of Nuance)
BJP government in Karnataka, in this day and age, may have frightening ramifications on the daily life Bangalore takes for granted.
“Who then is a Bangalorean?” asked a friend once.
The lazy response was simple. Anyone who has lived in Bangalore for a considerable amount of time can very aggressively claim she is a Bangalorean. She can also claim that no language, religion, ethnicity, or family history makes one a Bangalorean. And the beauty of Bangalore is that the city effortlessly absorbs the person, while quietly empowering them to hold on to their proud notion of being a Bangalorean, sans questions.
Yes, of course, there are pockets where caste, class, religion, and gender permeate and shape life. Areas where identity and economics define or limit one’s privilege, and how much agnosticism one can afford towards multiple social and political issues. But overall, one can take it for granted that there is a cosmopolitan facet to the city, which has allowed a liberal, tolerant, and a pleasant way of life, despite the madding traffic jams on Silk Board junction and Marathahalli. That as a city, Bangalore does not impose a language, a culture, or an identity on the people (including Amits, bhayyas, and those who did not study Science after 10th standard) who live in it and know it as their only home.
The elections this Saturday have serious implication for the state and the city. Like every election, the issues that will be impacted include serious and esoteric ones like infrastructure, investments, business development, agriculture reforms, welfare schemes, law and order, and corruption… Over the last four years, we have seen initiatives and reforms attempting to make the country a vibrant and bold nation that it has emerged today. Even if the outcomes have been misguided, the attempts have been noble.
The “Soldiers are dying and you can’t stand in ATM lines?” brand of economics used to justify bold policy decisions – which only cost the sacrifice of a few, not at the border but while attempting to withdraw their own money. Law and Order, which reached its efficient best when the State did not discriminate and arrested even the victims for not possessing papers for cattle transport (even though a man was lynched in recorded daylight). When the state did not politicise or hype national security over the rape and bludgeoning of a child based on her identity, or the death of a victim’s father in police custody. One can go on and on about the struggles and the successes of governing this complex country. (And since one is tired of nuance and technical intricacies, one is only dabbling in headline type lazy examples.)
Now, let’s ignore policy, economics, and the esoteric topics that seldom affect the common citizens, and instead concentrate on aspects of ordinary life that many Bangaloreans take for granted. Things which may be under threat, as evident (lazy headline evidence, because one is tired of nuance) in BJP governed states across the country.
Bangaloreans often celebrate their lack of an imposed sense of ethnicity, the pubs and microbreweries where women and men hang while wearing what they want (afterwards going home with who they want), an official language which is everywhere but seldom imposed, and meat recipes not censored on the menu…
The public life in Bangalore has seldom been defined by intolerance or narrow views of what or how one should live their life. But a lazy analysis of headlines (because one is tired of nuance) reveals that these are issues which are significantly threatened in any BJP ruled State. Agreed, the State and its instruments have never formally done anything about these things. But sometimes, one doesn’t need to explicitly encourage but just allow things (like the fringe on your forehead) to grow.
A dear friend, who works in a private firm, and considers himself apolitical and thoroughly disgusted by partisan politics, recently explained why the BJP, the Congress, and all other alternatives are terrible for Karnataka. That he disagrees with all of their ideologies and offerings and is annoyed by their historical trajectories to power and hypocrisies as they conveniently ignore it all. He also laments about the lack of a credible alternative in the country. His point does make sense through the lens of unbiased analysis of partisan politics. However, when one participates in politics, one cannot afford to be ‘unbiased’ or ‘apolitical’.
But then, my friend would argue that he is not participating in active politics. That he is a private citizen going about his day, doing his non-political activities. That he is not contesting for any electoral office, working for a political party, or is affiliated to a political or an activist organisation. He is not a “political creature” in his professional or personal life. But what he and many well-meaning people like him often forget is that their very existence as an adult Indian citizen is indeed a radical political act because of the nature of the Indian democracy. That they have the power to vote and the freedom to elect their leader on election day. That while they may feel non-partisan or apolitical, even the choice to not vote for a listed option, is indeed partisan, because it signifies what does not represents them and their endorsed way of life on a particular election day.
The reason elections run in a cycle is because citizens have the power to regularly change their leaders and representatives. No party or person is perfect, and often the choice may seem between a rock and a hard place. But elections are all about choosing the better from all the available options. Lazy headline evidence and even lazier analysis (because one is tired of nuance) have revealed that a BJP government in Karnataka, in this day and age, may have frightening ramifications on the daily life Bangalore takes for granted. It may change the nature of the city and who knows, even the temperate and pleasant weather it is world famous for.
Sarah Farooqui is an independent writer. She tweets at @sarahfarooqui20