Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Extremism of Moderation

I am a proud Hindu.
Ah! What was that? A declaration of self-confessed Hindu pride! I must definitely be communal. For when does a right-thinking person (with no reference to the political definition which can send the media lambasting everyone under its ambit) even a Hindu, declare so outrightly his love for his religion?
No sir! I must definitely be communal.

In a world charged with religious overtones where religion is no longer a merely personal pursuit which instead dominates world politics, terrorism, film-making, book-literature, facebook updates, election issues, it is still all right to declare yourself a proud Muslim or a Christian or a Jew, but a Hindu declaration must indeed be the right-wingedness of politics or at least an overt display of a newly-branded word: Extremist.

It is ironical and yet in many ways it isn’t, for after all, aren’t we in India – the land of contradictions, that calling yourself a proud Hindu and wearing the obvious badges of the religion on sleeve in an overwhelmingly Hindu population is publicly looked upon most disapprovingly and most suspiciously. You utter the ‘H’ word and the media, the people, the peers will point guns at you. Sarcasm and comments labeling you as a right-winger or as a Hindu extremist or as a communalist or as a BJPiite, will be thrown at your mercilessly.

It is another matter that this declaration is only an expression of one’s preference, with no intention to insult, invoke or slander any other religion, sect or community. Also, more often than not, statements to do with one’s religion are bereft of any purported signaling to any other.
However, that is exactly the meaning attributed to a harmless statement.

Nevertheless, my problem is much more latitudinous than the expression of one’s religiosity. It is the overt, repressive pressure to be all-conforming to the public-media-asserted holy line of “Moderation”. Political correctness has reached a never-before docile and obsequious standard.

And hence, I admit publicly that I am afraid. Afraid of the expansive and unsuppressed nature of this political correctness pervading our homes, our workplaces, media, discussion forums, facebook, and the worst of all - inter-personal relationships.
Somehow it is not right to express your opinions clearly if they go against the holy line of moderation. It is not right to say that you “hate” something or you “love” something. No sir! We all must dilute it to express our conformism to a ‘Moderate’ ‘like’. Worse still, eliminate the preference. Express the neutrality: This way or that way, I am ok, you are ok.

Riots break out for no explicit reason whatsoever if a word, a phrase or a declaration enrages someone. Calling a spade a spade is a thing left for English storybooks or literature from colonial era.  I remember this conversation where I was telling someone that I love Sachin Tendulkar. Within a few minutes while talking about cities and lives, I said that I hate Delhi because of the insecurity it offers to girls. Having ably supported my preferences with some reasons, irrespective of someone else’s agreement with them, I did not hesitate while saying them aloud. In no time, I was an extremist with strong opinions. Strong opinions, apparently, are to be frowned upon, as long as they do not toe the line of moderation.

The worst of all is the penetration of this attitude in small sections of society and personal relationships. Wearing a saffron kurta to work will invite at least one joke about ‘being RSS-wadi”. The same is not true for a green garment.
Expressing political opinions frequently, especially by a girl, will invite the ire and the frown of the moderation-practicing populace. Saying things as they are, as they should be, factually pointing out anomalies is the symbol of an active mind, not of a demented one. That in no way dents the humaneness of a person.

Conformism suits the present world of traders and organizations. Euphemism is the new mantra. I shudder to think what would have been the outcome of our freedom struggle if our leaders were afraid and every non-approved, non-moderate sentence would be opposed using reductio ad absurdum.

And so, it is with being Hindu.

So for the left-leaning media and the majority of those conscientious Hindus who are afraid of being labeled extremists; criticizing kar sevaks for demolishing Babri masjid is justified, so much so that we can play the same record year after year, openly castigating the people involved but to talk of Muslim-led genocide against Kashmiri Pandits in one of world’s largest cases of ethnic cleansing is being - you are right – Hindu Extremist.

No normal, right-minded Hindu will support any of these two activities, least of all any riots. However, when any of them expresses a preference of voting for BJP, he is automatically labeled in a derogatory tone as a ‘RSS wadi”.  Why can’t someone vote for BJP without being called so, simply because he or she is disgusted with the corruption of the Congress or with their flawed sense of economics or their misplaced idea of appeasement or the worst of all – their conniving sops to public, permanently damaging the exchequer without any effective ‘build money to spend money’ program.

A religion should be gauged by the way it treats its minorities when it is itself in majority. And India should be proud because despite being majorly Hindu, she has welcomed all religions with open arms. All communities, sects which were persecuted in the world found a refuge in this motherland. And that should make us delightfully proud of being Hindu. Pride as defined by dictionary also means “self-esteem” without any negative overtones. Why should that offend anyone?
“I am proud to belong to that Hinduism which is all inclusive and which stands for tolerance.” – Gandhi proclaimed a long time ago. He never went down in history as being communal. His love for other religions was so much that a real Hindu Extremist assassinated him.

Our democracy and its constitution gives the “Right to Free Speech” to each and every individual, limited only by its potential to invoke incendiary feelings in a community enough to cause destructive rampage or fuel insurgent emotions.
Apart from that, we are free to express. Unfortunately, what the constitution blesses us with; the society takes away – the Right to be an Individual.

A new thought emanates from a conflict of ideas. For conflict of ideas, there should be opposing opinions and the right to express so. Toeing the middle line has never revolutionized anything, neither any political nor any social or industrial change. The Moderates never got us freedom, so didn’t the Extremists. The conflict between them produced Gandhi - a new political awakening.
Moderation should not be an excuse for tolerance of the bad and the ugly – specks of terrorism, acts of vandalism, conformism to mediocrity, snubbing of free opinions, preferences and a societal snobbery for euphemisms. Continued practice of this has made us a soft and weak nation, which will tolerate just about anything: rapes, appeasement, terrorism, hijacking, naxalism, corruption and blatant misuse of power because as a community we are afraid of being labeled as “Extremists”.
Moderation is good, albeit in moderation.

In Sanskrit, there is a saying: “Ati Sarvatra Varjayet” , i.e. ‘Anything in excess is bad”.  Even ‘Moderation’.

Aparajita Tripathi
PGDM, IIM Kozhikode

Saturday, December 31, 2011


Each time you gave some of you
You took some more of me,
Each time you closed your eyes to sleep
You stole some dreams of me,
Each time the sun set on your dreamy days
You shadowed the light in me,
Each time you looked at your reflection
You mirrored a lot of me,
Each time you stared at my frank eyes,
You entered the skin of me.

And now, when you are some of I
And some of I is you,
Difficult our lives have become
In removing all of you;

When I try to shed some of you,
I shed a lot of me,
With each layer that I skin off
You disappear with some more of me,
So deep was the intrusion of you in my life
That you are the majority in me;

Little by little, bit by bit,
Your rays had entered me,
And now erasing the thought of you
Is like dimming the light in me.

And with a new view, I look at you
Searching for the lost me
And all I find is a void sublime
Where darkness was traded for me,
The larks have stopped singing
The tales of love,
Now that, there's no more of me in thee!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wherefore Shall One Find?

Oft at times, one should find
A mind engaged
In warring contradictions
In a place like this
Where exists a knowledge abyss!

Alas! Bereft of Convictions,
Thoughts often aged
Swarm without Friction.
In a place like this
A questioning soul is amiss!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stay Away My Dear!

An overcast sky,
Clouded with darkness
A spring of colour
Spreads nevertheless.

Yet he Forbids
Happiness to come near
A tale spun so sordid
That Quoth he
“Stay Away My Dear”

What shalt she say
Grown weary with neglect.
Their Conversations abound
Erratic and Forlorn
Emphatic with words
And Absence of Sound

O’ she wonders!
How at fault was she?
And so she Wonders
As Time Flies Nigh
Is her Love someday To Be?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Aapke jawaab mein

छोटी छोटी रंजिशों में प्यार ढूंढ लें तो जाने
कोसों दूर रहने वाले की भावना को समझ पाएं तो जाने
ठहाके मारने के दिन तो उसी क्षण लद गए
जब बिलखती आँखों के मायने आपके लिए हो गए बेमाने

स्व-जड़ित कैदों से विचार मुक्त हो पाएं तो जाने
किसी की यादों से खुद को विमुख कर पाएं तो जाने
गनीमत सिलवतें ही थी, क्या आप भूल गए,
अपने हाथों के उस स्पर्श को हमसे छीन पाएं तो जाने

किसी की उल्फतों को नज़र-अंदाज़ कर पाए तो जाने

सोचते हैं की कभी तो दर्द बयान कर पाएं
उस काली कलम से शब्द छीन पाएं तो जाने
जिन सवालों के जवाब से आप खुद रहे बेखबर
वो छोड़ हमें, खुद से पूछें तो जाने

हमारे इकरार को मुक़र्रर कर पाएं तो जाने

क्या खूब-ऐ-किस्मत हमारा मजाक उड़ाया करती है
हमारी की गयी प्रशंसा को दरकिनार करिए तो जाने
आपकी खामोशी हमसे हमको ही छीन कर ले गयी
वो हंसी, वो नाटक, वो वो नाराजगी लौटा पाएं तो जाने

कभी अपने शालीन-ऐ-अंदाज़ में "मेरे साथ चलोगी" सुना पाएं तो जाने

गिरफ्त प्यार की न होती तो हम भी अहंकार-ऐ-सराबोर थे
हमारी हालत को समझ कर खुद पास आयें तो जाने
शिद्दत से बटोरा है हमने हर उस लम्हे को
उन लम्हों से खुद को छुड़ा पाएं तो जाने

रंजिशों को छोड़ हमें अपना पाएं तो जाने

Saturday, September 25, 2010

221st Page of A 300 Page Autobiography

And I broke into an effervescent laughter.
Wasn’t he right? Life was going to come around full circle. At 43, I had achieved milestones I had never dreamt about. The youngest Global Head in the Food&Beverages Industry was a brilliant title to possess at this juncture of my life.
A career spawning over a period of 17 years starting from my first job at XYZ International has been a completely intoxicating experience. The rapturous excitement on getting placed in Pepsi straight out of IIM makes me wonder about the valuation of happiness at various junctures of one’s life. At 24, it was about getting placed. At 30, it was about playing with my little daughter who was growing up. At 38, it was about appreciating the progressive social context that India was encapsulated in.
At 43 today, it holds a very different meaning for me. Today, happiness means feeling worthy, responsible for having a job done, and done well at that, for having achieved more than I had aimed, for having made a difference to the lives of people around me.
What more does one want out of life? An IAS husband who while reciting poetry is passionate about reforming bureaucracy and robbing it of its stigma and a daughter who doesn’t want to follow the herd into the 17th IIM inaugurated in the country but wants to start a school
Despite all this, there is something missing. A gap I need to fill in. Having changed the fortunes of the companies I worked with, I am hardly excited by the rise and fall of the share price.
I guess, it’s time to turn around. That’s why my husband laughs and calls me eccentric for now at 43 I am filling in a form yet again, like the night of 20th Sept 2010 I filled one for a company, and this time it is to get into University of Columbia to study Public Administration. Maybe we can….

Sunday, July 4, 2010


क्या यह वो जगह है , जिस पर मेरी निगाह थी ?
क्या यह वो जगह है, जिस पर मैं निसार थी?
गए दिनों की सोच कर मायूसी आये इधर मेरे
आज को देखकर नयी उम्मीद भी गयी कुचल !