On my art table: Desolate Hope

On my art table desolate hope

I call this: desolate hope.

It’s a painting for our times. For the strife and the hatred; the othering and the brutality; for the climate apathy and the ringing of the bells of war.

For the coming together in solidarity and love; for saying enough, no more, not in my name. For holding our leaders accountable; demanding climate action and social justice; holding out for peace and love and equality and brotherhood.

Desolate hope.

Art journal page desolate hope

It’s been over a month since protests broke out across the country over the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. While opinions are divided over the constitutionality of the Act, which is still okay, what I find disturbing is the section of the population that has either nothing to say or is actually supportive of the brutal police crackdown against students in JNU, Jamia Milia University, and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), and against Indian Muslims in UP.

The argument put forth {for the Jamia crackdown} was that students indulged in violence and burnt public property, which is unacceptable. And while there is nothing wrong with this point of view, what I find disturbing is that police brutality against students, many of whom were sitting and studying in the library and had nothing to do with the protests, was not universally condemned.

There is a way to deal with vandalism – it is to find evidence, book the concerned people, and allow the law to take its course. It is not okay to storm into a university campus, beat students in the library, chase students to their hostel rooms and even to bathrooms and beat them up, and break university furniture.

The police brutality in AMU was far worse, with one student even losing a limb in the crackdown.

The fact that this is cheered by a section of the society, and that some people can simply ignore all of it, only shows the extent to which Islamophobia and a complete disregard for the other has taken root in our collective consciousness.

Where this kind of hatred and othering will take is in anyone’s guess. For all the government’s assertions that the law isn’t against Indian Muslims, the actions of the state machinery – the police brutality, the Islamophobic comments made by ministers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party – prove otherwise.

Through all of this despair, though, is a glimmer of hope. It comes from the students, from the section of society that has risen up together to condemn the police brutality and to demand that the rights and dignity of every single resident of this country be protected. There has finally been an awakening of public consciousness against the constant othering and Islamophobia being is being rampantly spread through a dedicated machinery that is designed to sow the seeds of hatred, purely for political gains.

Where we will land is anyone’s guess. But we will not be cowed down and whimper anymore; we will put a spirited fight for all those who stand to loose the most from the passage of this act – Muslims, Dalits, tribals, adivasis, and the transgender community. And therein lies hope.

As we enter a new decade, it is my hope that we can work towards building a nation that is based on equality and empathy, which is sorely lacking these days. On truly empowering our minorities – Dalits, Muslims, adivasis, and tribals. On restoring our forests and conserving our wildlife and our rich cultural heritage.

Idealistic? Maybe. But a girl can hope.

Note: Given the sensitive nature of this post, please be respectful while leaving comments. You are free to have a differing view, but it must be respectful. And kindly avoid references to 800 year old Mughal history as justification for anything that is happening today. Insensitive and rude comments will be deleted. 

Posted in On My Art Table.

22 Comments

  1. That last paragraph is a prayer on most lips today.
    I really hope we are able to achieve it, Shinjini, and learn to respect everyone. Isn’t that the most basic humane thing we can learn to do?

  2. I truly wish and pray that such a day comes when we identify each other as human beings and not by gender, caste, Creed or religion. Let us all pray and work towards that. More power to your pen.

    • I really hope this movement helps us to achieve that. All of us, regardless of caste, gender, religion, etc are equal. This attempt to divide us on these lines needs to be thwarted at every level.

  3. I am so proud of you for writing this post. And the best part of the post is the section “And kindly avoid references to 800 year old Mughal history as justification for anything that is happening today.” Bang on Lady!!

    • Seriously, right? It’s the silliest argument ever. And what surprises me is how seemingly educated, rational people can get riled up over the atrocities of the Mughals. It’s history. It’s done. It shaped our culture and our society, and we have had 800 years to adapt. Like, get over it already!

  4. Your painting is absolutely stunning. Loved how it portrays the lost feeling that currently people are feeling in India. The videos of the attack on students is terrifying. Absolutely nothing can justify such brutality on innocence. Thank you for bravely writing your opinion.

    • Thanks, Raj. It’s been pretty traumatic, especially when you see the hate and apathy all around. How anyone can sit quietly and think everything is okay is beyond my understanding,

  5. I applaud you, Shinjini, for writing about the current situation here on your blog. Asking for protection of the rights of minorities, restoring the forests, fighting environmental issues, providing universal education should not be looked down or upon as idealism because this should be the way forward. Inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness should be the norm.

  6. Interesting post. I am glad that we are thinking in these terms after more than 70 years of independence. Here’s hoping for a better tomorrow, irrespective of the path that comes in.

    • I’m not sure what you mean, Jyothi. Are you trying to say no one spoke of these things for 70 years? You do realise that’s probably not true? With social media, a lot of this conversation is now public, with people from all walks and all places contributing to the conversation. But to think no one thought of these things or discussed them before is, well, a pretty ignorant view to take, I believe. And I’m not sure what “irrespective of the path that comes in” means. Because the current path that the country is on, well, that leads only to hatred and violence, as we are currently seeing.

  7. I just hope things get better. The sorry state of things in our country right now after all these years of independence is alarming. More power to you for this piece of art and the message that you’ve shared through this post.

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