It`s a bad
time to be a whiter shade of pale. Or lavender, mauve, mint, teal, chartreuse….
a bad time to be subtle. To fall back on irony and expect the
listener/viewer/observer to get just what you mean.
brought home sharply vis-à-vis a recent post I shared on a social networking
site. It was an interview with a renowned historian, a pithy piece studded with
pertinent nuggets. The passage I had cut and pasted above the link was one
where the historian had said that Jawaharlal Nehru was being held accountable for
anything and everything bad that had happened to the country in the past 70
years. The sardonic tone was clear even in the excerpt…except, quite a few
people just didn’t get it. And faithful to their stand, these people hastened
to express their satisfaction at two things: one, the historian seeing the
light at last, and two, this heretic,
namely me, obviously following suit by posting the interview. Welcome to the
fold, they said volubly, exuberantly.
read-through of the interview would have revealed just what the gentleman
meant. He was ruing the great tarring game going on. So okay, expecting people
to read the whole article may have been ambitious but here`s the thing: a
read-through, quick or otherwise, of the excerpted passage alone should have
made things pretty clear.
rephrase that: it should have made things pretty clear, once upon a time. No longer, alas. Now, it`s all about making
statements in black and white. Now, espousing one position means repudiating every single
facet of the other position. The rules
are clear: if you stand up to be counted, please make sure you are on the right
side, or prepare to be skewered. And please stick to the KISS principle; don’t
confuse matters by parsing the issue at hand. As Herr Hitler would have said:
it`s Aryan or vermin. As George W did say: it`s for us or against us.
The word nuance
is defined thusly: a subtle difference
in or shade of meaning, expression, or sound. But what price that difference
when subtlety itself has acquired distinct persona non grata status? Even as
history is being rewritten to suit what the newspapers called `vested
interests,` a certain kind of
aggression, totally absent of any cerebral mooring, walks abroad, flexing its
biceps and stretching its many-centimetered chest.
Those who do not see or acknowledge
nuance actually have it easy. The path is clear to denounce, to harass, to spew
invective (presstitutes, libtards, anyone? How genteel `pseudo-secular` sounds,
now!), to barge into people`s homes, check the contents of their fridge and
then, bludgeon them to death. To accost young couples and ask them which caste
or community they belong to; to stage protests when two consenting adults
decide to marry outside their respective castes; to harass women they consider
are dressed inappropriately; to burn books they would in any case, never read;
to turn into a lumpen mob with the flick of a calibrated switch.
The no-nuancewallas just don`t get it. Put
in KISS terms, the fact that condemnation of the 2002 riots does not, in any
way, mean acceptance or justification of the 1984 riots. That recognising (unbearable)
braggadocio in one individual does not mean excusing the (abject) lack of
leadership skills in another. That subjecting so-called sacred space to
incisive scrutiny does not mean disrespect therein. That the young man who
courageously stands up to intimidation on a college campus is not a messiah,
just a brave man who may or may not stand the test of time. That applauding the
government for its attempts at good governance does not mean buying into its
ideological rhetoric. That the purview of art and literature has to soar above governmental
shackles to really work. That, in fact, life itself has to be examined and
questioned frequently, for it to really work, be meaningful.
A melting pot culture necessarily implies
the peaceful coexistence of nuanced people leading nuanced lives. Those who are
seeking to banish nuance are doing our future generations a grave disservice. The
no-nuancewallas also need to see, realise and acknowledge the idea of India. Hello,
India is a great country. It does not need endorsement or verification by
anyone. Hopefully, she will rise above today`s unintelligent goons with their
knee-jerk responses, their proclivity to offend and take offence, their innate
belief that their vision of India can be hammered into shape, both mentally and
However, in the interim, the scarring of India`s
psyche continues. Today`s slogans,
indeed, have the potential to become
tomorrow`s precepts. And that is precisely what scares me. Will someone bring
nuance back, please?
Labels: abuse, art, caste, coexistence, community, Feature, historian, Hitler, irony, Jawaharlal Nehru, literature, Man`s World magazine, nuance, Sheila Kumar, subtle, the lack of nuance in society, trolls