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Hollow Activism


Great was the outrage around the country when a former Uttarakhand Chief Minister disapproved of girls wearing ripped jeans. Entire treatises were written in the newspapers, debates held on TV, and commentary on Twitter about women’s fundamental rights. In Afghanistan, however, these rights are ‘alien values out of sync with local culture’ that should not be imposed on the populace. The same goes for democracy. All the ‘liberal feminists’ are maintaining deathly silence on the issue, when they should have been on the streets in outrage against the Taliban. Instead, the rare tweet informs the world that the RSS and Taliban are ‘same to same’.

So, if the women of Afghanistan are expecting that they have allies among India’s ‘activists’, they are bound to be disappointed. It may be a cliché, but it is largely true – the activism here is generally conducted from five star environs. The purpose of too many Trusts, Foundations and Societies is to obtain foreign funds in the name of various causes. Every now and then, how these funds are actually used is revealed, but owing to the ramshackle judicial system and the speedily activated ‘crowd defence mechanisms’, they continue unscathed with their activities. One can be involved in all kinds of shady dealings, but the activist tag serves as an exculpatory free pass. It has been revealed lately that China has been buying into various sectors to exercise influence in India – many among this section will have been obvious beneficiaries.

Even so, they could have easily paid lip-service to the women’s cause from the comfort of their air-conditioned offices (another cliché). Unfortunately, they accept the Taliban as true representatives of Islam and, God forbid, by opposing them they should emit even the slightest hint of Islamophobia. That would destroy the entire façade of ‘tolerance’ and ‘secularism’. It is greatly discomfiting when someone like Naseeruddin Shah should mention an Indian Islam, but the confusion is quickly dispelled when Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq Abdullah remind the Taliban to follow the ‘true Shariya’.

It is important for young people, nowadays, not to be taken in by such activism, because it leads only to conflict, negativity and anti-social behaviour. It is nothing more than a bid to attract attention by those who lack real ability. This is the age of renewal, not of conformism. Crucial years of life should not be wasted in the service of political cults that have nothing to offer in terms of life skills and genuine achievement.