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The perils of blind obedience
In western countries, education gives one the power to question authority and think for oneself. In India, however, it only enables children to blindly parrot what their teachers and elders say. For instance, many years ago, when I told my school-going daughter that 'tigress' was the correct spelling and not 'tigeress' she fearfully told me that the teacher's version was 'tigeress' and she would be marked wrong if she spelt it my way. I told her firmly not to worry about the marks.
Once, when I was in the eighth grade of school, I innocently asked my Hindi teacher, a dour lady, the meaning of the word, 'Mehbooba'. I had become curious about the word after hearing the 'Mehbooba' song in Sholay. Her answer was to box me in the ears. Not only did she kill my curiosity - at least with regard to learning the Hindi language - she also instilled in me a lifelong aversion to figures of authority.

Today, India is going through troubled times. In the name of wiping out black money and corruption, PM Modi unleashed the tsunami of demonetisation, perhaps not fully cognizant of the kind of destruction it could cause when it strikes without warning. Millions of innocent people have been inconvenienced by his move.

People are not able to access their hard-earned money, many have died due to the stress of standing in long queues, a healthy economy has gone into a tailspin with people being afraid to spend money like before, families are starving and unable to pay for medical treatments and even foreign tourists have been affected.

All these are the consequences of an ill thought out move. It shows lack of planning and foresight because banks simply don't have enough money. Without sufficient hundred and five hundred rupee notes it is very difficult to do business in India. Digitisation cannot be achieved quickly in a country where network problems and power shortages are frequent, not to mention that many people are illiterate.

If this were not enough, the Supreme Court, in an amazing instance of judicial overreach, announced that the national anthem has to be played in movie halls and people should stand up when it is played. If Modi made us all look like hoarders and crooks, now the SC has made us look like a bunch of traitors who need to be forced to prove their patriotism. Why should we have to prove our patriotism in a movie hall? What is this symbolism meant to serve?

I don't take or give bribes, I keep my environment clean, I give to charity… doesn't all this suffice to show that I love my country? While I understand the motive behind such proclamations, I doubt their effectiveness. One occasion when we could have displayed our patriotism was during the hijacking of a flight - at Kandahar.

We could have said loud and clear that we don't want our government to negotiate with terrorists. All those who laud Modi now… would they agree to it if one of their loved ones had been on that flight? That's true patriotism. If the SC wants people to be patriotic it should first tell the politicians to clean up their act and create a country that we can feel pride in.

True, demonetisation can be one step towards this larger goal, but it should not have been done at the cost of people's lives and happiness and the well-being of the economy. Worse, it has led to a polarisation of the middle class itself. One group adoringly talks of Modi as a game changer and another sees him as a totalitarian. When I hear my educated friends make excuses for Modi and his ill-considered step without seeing the pain of those who suffer because of it, I am appalled.

A person collapses while standing in a queue and the others calmly ignore him because they don't want to give up their place in the queue. In Hitler's Germany too, people turned a blind eye to the excesses of their leader. Unfortunately, the lessons of history are quickly forgotten, and so even now, many Indians continue to be oblivious to the perils of blind obedience.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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