I was born the year the Babri mosque was brought down. Consequently, I have no memory of the event, neither the movement that preceded it nor the riots that ensued.
All that I know is from what I have heard or read as part of contemporary history, same as many who were born during or after the movement.
My only understanding of the issue was that a religious structure was brought down by the fanatics of another religion which seemed unfair. The feeling would have been the same if it were a temple brought down by Muslim fanatics. To me, what happened was illegal and therefore, wrong. Period.
As far as I can recall, neither Babri Masjid nor Ram Mandir was ever an issue while growing up. Neither in school nor in college. I can safely presume that most of the kids who studied with me in my school in Delhi did not have much idea about the issue until the run-up to the parliamentary elections of 2014.
What is surprising to the extent of disturbing is that kids these days seem to be aware about it. Simply awareness would not have raised as much of a red flag if their knowledge came from History books but unfortunately, it comes from the popular narrative being built around the Ram Janmbhumi through media and social media. The fact that our kids are being fed fewer facts and more rhetoric is extremely concerning for me.
My concern doesn’t stem from fear that it might lead them towards extremism, but because it will divert them from the real issues this country is facing today.
With this in mind, I look back on what were the social and political issues that we used to discuss during our senior school and college years. The first thing that comes to my mind is the economic growth followed by job market which were the popular issues back then. We also discussed about the sectors which were on the rise and decline. Our discussion also ranged from globalization, internal security to climate change. Being an arts student, I remember discussing the naxal problem at length in college.
For the young women studying in the university, gender equality and sexual harassment were passionate issues. We discussed LGBT rights. Of course, there were disagreements but we were, nonetheless, talking about it.
We were a generation that saw itself as the most liberal of the lot. We all had issues which were close to our hearts. There was so much going on in the country and in the world!
And then 2014 happened. Love Jihad happened. Ghar Vaapsi happened. JNU and FTII happened. Cow politics happened. Moral policing happened. And of course, Ram Mandir happened all over again.
The conflict that took place before we were born was back. An issue that hardly mattered to us all these years growing up has now become a pivot point of social and political discourse.
Now, we are a scattered lot. Divided on the issue. For. Against. Neutral. But divided. And involved. Consciously or subconsciously. And where have our other issues gone? The economy is going down, but who cares! Inequality is increasing, so what? Media has lost its credibility. Like it matters! Global Terrorism has found a new face and strength in the form of ISIS. But that’s not our problem yet.
The job market is crashing. Space for personal freedoms decreasing. The population growth is unsustainable. Global temperatures are rising each year. But none of it is as important as it used to be anymore. Whether a Ram Temple is built in place of the demolished mosque is what matters.
Is everybody singing the national anthem and national song? Is everybody blindly supporting all actions of the security forces? How do we make sure that cows are safe in the country? These are the real issues. They need to be dealt with first. After all, GDP, Development Index and Sex Ratio are simply numbers.
We are the post-Babri generation. And we are confused. And disillusioned. We have lost track. And something that has nothing to do with us has, all of a sudden, become a matter of pride. It is now a matter of identity. We are the post-Babri generation. And we are failing not just ourselves but our country.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NEWSD and NEWSD does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.