Choosing to remain deaf to the ongoing political revolutions in the country doesn’t make you apolitical but in turn puts you on the side of the oppressor rather. In this modern world, where every decision that’s made has a political conottation, pretending to be serene by unjust laws being passed in the country counts as nothing but political gaslighting, especially when the affected has shared most of the existence with you.
“It was shocking and to a great extent, hurtful to see my friends uploading stories of their meals, birthdays and other things while my varsity was vandalized”
“I spent a night in terror. They didn’t even call me to ask me how I was, instead argued with me offline and online.”
“My friends who belong to majoritarian identity are silent. Its as if they don’t care.”
Many of us may find ourselves relating to these personal anecdotes. Undoubtedly, the youth led movement against the draconian law has paved its way into the personal lives of youngsters all over the country, causing fall outs and conflicts in friendships due to ideological differences and a difference in political opinions. While the majority of the youth is out on the streets expressing their dissent over the regressive law, there is a huge section of youth following the ‘ostrich-burying-their-head’ approach, choosing not to comment on the happenings around them, even if it affects their friends from marginalized sections of society.
It is not new for the urban middle and upper class to follow the trend of being apolitical, a term which literally means ‘having no interest or involvement in political affairs’, or ‘having an aversion to politics or political affairs’. However, it’s a luxury few can afford. Those who choose to look away have the privilege to do so, because their existence isn’t ‘politicised’ for them-their socioeconomic backgrounds, gender or race allows them to live a life in which they will most likely not be a target of bigotry, systemic oppression, bullying, attacks or deportation. However, not everyone can afford to be this lackadaisical and disengaged- the recent JNU fee hikes that retracts the opportunity for education from weaker sections of society, the police brutality on the students of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University and the regressive anti-muslim law have caused many that are directly affected by these to pour out on the streets to express their dissent over destruction of the secular fabric of the nation and the essence of the Preamble, which provides “Equality of Opportunity” to all.
For the indian youth, seeing politics as a topic of ‘interest’ or ‘non-interest’, saying “indian politics is a mess and I don’t want to be a part of it” is a privilege reveal in itself, stemming from the benefits they reap by simply sitting high up on the pyramid of entitlement. Those who choose to go about their lives ignoring these struggles are the ones who have largely benefited from class structures in society and more often than not, it’s their ‘apathy’ rather that political neutrality. Its the choice to remain ignorant except for the exceptional cases where people choose to create an echo chamber simply because it is triggering or affects their mental health. They decidedly or unconsciously become desensitized and uninterested, sitting high up on the hierarchical pyramid, all the while being enraged when the protests led by the disenfranchised disrupts their everyday life.
A chunk of the cafe-going, retail therapy loving generation stays silent around people that say things that are sexist, homophobic, casteist, classist or xenophobic, simply because it’s ‘not their business’. They fear isolation and the possibility of being attacked online or lose a portion of their social media following. In turn, they actively perpetuate these bigoted ideas and cultures by not calling them out. The other chunk calls them out to break out of the fool’s paradise of apoliticism and understand that every choice they make is political. The ongoing civil resistance has seen youngsters call out their peers, classmates and friends who are so much out of the realm of reality that they cannot empathise with peers who have their lives at stake.
We all have heard of the famous quote by Desmond Tutu that goes, “if you are neutral in times of injustice, you have already chosen the side of the oppressor.” Every single decision that we make is political. We are never as neutral as we wish to be- politics follows all of us, regardless of our earnest desire to look the other way. With the universities and its youngsters remaining as the last line of resistance to the complete fascist takeover of the country, choosing to stay apolitical is a political stance that only supports and encourages the state’s assault and the injustice unleashed on its citizens.
Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia