A few days back I had posted an article on marxism and how corporates can make use of the same. Well as always a lot of people commented on the same. Some I agreed and some I disagreed which is always the case. Anyway it so happened that someone made a disaparaging comment about my city and I obviously wanted to comment. So here I got onto chat, and before I knew it, it became a personal attack, to the extent that I was not even allowed to say a word. If I said anything,it was misconstrued in the most amazing way and the point was hammered so many times, that one lost the entire reason for the conversation and it went into a different direction. Well after a couple of minutes I obviously did the next sensible thing to do and just ignored the conversation and actually had a good laugh with another friend who was online who was following the chat with me. But the entire conversation got me thinking, why is it today that debates are no longer reigned within the limits of a debate. Why are people so scared of their point of view being unaccepted that they are ready to rave, rant and go to any low heights as possible? Is winning so important? Or have we reached a stage where intolerance rules.
One of my friends in FB is a staunch communist and she often makes various postings on FB regarding how anti communist forces in West Bengal and India are destroying the country and how communism is the best philosophy to follow. Now I disagree with some of her views and agree with some. Of course when I disagree I give my reasons for the same and vice versa. But what amazes me is the way the comments from the readers flow in any of her discussions. I can accept that one is passionate about what one says and believes in, but I am amazed why people are not ready to listen to another point of view? And when one sees ones point being diluted in the barrage of comments, the comments invariably more often than not become personal. Or otherwise they start screaming and hammering away to glory so much so, that one forgets that one is in a civil society. Internet being an unmoderated medium this becomes even more easier.
If one follows debates on various television channels where one political party is pitted agains the other, the same rule follows. Firstly most debates on TV which involves the politcal class are always so divided and polarized that one rarely gets to hear the true story. Secondly with most speakers who come on TV (there are some good political orators but they generally choose to stay away) its always an extremist point of view that they carry and for them the one point agenda is not to defend their theory but to belittle one’s opponent. In that effort most of the politcal class usually catch hold of the most inane points in the opposition’s topic of conversation and misinterprets it in such a wonderful fashion, and then repeats it so many times that one forgets the real reason for the debate. And if one finds onself in the receiving end of the debate, or losing as one would say, the voices of the loser becomes shriller and louder to the extent that he / she feels that the best way to win a debate is to stop the other one from being heard – decency be damned. Logic and any form of evidence more often than not takes a back seat and all one gets in the end is a shrilly discourse where one hears nothing except some pathetic personal attacks and a loud cacophony of noises. What is worse is that the so called moderator or the anchor of the show actually encourages that cacophony, so much so that at the end of the debate the viewer not only remains uneducated about everyone’s point of view but also needs to clean his ears lest he turned deaf.
One of the most debated topics in India of late have been the Nuclear Deal. I am sure the most of us did follow the same specially on the day the parliament moved the motion of confidence against the Government. The parliament debated over the topic for over 6 hours (a record of sorts since they never work so long but thats a different topic) but tell me honestly how many of you even remember a single debate except the one Rahul Gandhi and Omar Abdullah made. I don’t. And I will tell you why I remember Rahul Gandhi’s speech. After ages I heard a politican who did not feel the need to belittle another party and rather paid respect to all saying all is equally concerned about India. He did not need to scream cause he knew his content made sense. But still no one learns.
In the last two parliamentary elections the BJP lost. Among the many reasons attributed to their loss, I feel one of the reasons they lost is that they forgot that a democracy is a fight for different schools of thought and not of different individuals. At least in urban india one would like to hear a debate on how they different. Their fight in the 2004 elections was anti Sonia and 2009 concentrated on being anti Manmohan. None of their debates had any concrete topics and solutions to the many problems India faces today but just personal attacks. Most of their debates especially if the panelists included people from the RSS was always about a personal attack. They lost the first time and yet refused to learn and fell again. Hopefully this time they wil learn. Of course I don’t mean congress is any better. They usually have a little more smarter people who come for the debate and hence their tactic more often than not, when they have nothing to say is to catch the most insignificant statement that the opposition makes and keep repeating it so many times, that one ends up discussing a topic completely different from what one started with and before you know it, the time is up. But the best of the lot I find is from TMC and certain marxist leaders. They usually start the debate with screaming and shouting and throw up insignificants points in the air, which have no relevance with the topic and hope that the chaos created by them confuses the audience enough to forget the topic of discussion. Logic and proofs be damned.
I am deliberately avoiding putting up any examples for the above as there are so many that even my debate will lose its relevance. But there is one which I have to point out and I feel its enough to drive home my point. Sometime back in NDTV there was a discussion on Mayavati’s statue building efforts. Now among the panelists was a gentleman who was speaking for Mayavati and her spend. Failing to justify it under any circumstance he came up with this bizarre explanation which flumoxxed everyone. He said that statue building of elephants was to bring in the plight of elephants being killed in India, and since India was racist they were more bothered about the diminishing number of tigers in the country than elephants, who he felt was a sign of dalits. Now in that one swift move he managed to turn the topic of discussion to something completely different and confused the entire panelists to think the discussion was on racism and saving the elephants. Much as I laughed during the debate I feel more often than not today debates are reduced to the same. Create a confusion, rave, rant and in the end ensure people don’t get to hear any opposing thoughts.
When I was a kid and I used to get angry with my people for not agreeing to something I said, I used to scream. Ma always said something, which then I did not understand but today I do. She used to say when you are right your content will do the convincing. Raising your voice only shows how hollow your viewpoints are cause you feel only by shouting you can win. More often than not, your opponent just gives in cause he/ she feels intimidated by you. I guess today we have become so intolerant across all spectrums of life, that we cannot tolerate any other school of thought which contradicts ours. Hence instead of talking sense, we end up just mud slinging each other and screamig.
I am someone who really enjoys a healthy debate, if for nothing else but to make my grey cells ticking. Hence like old times, when debates used to end with the moderator asking all in favour vote aye…i say all in favour of the old form of debate coming back please vote aye…I FOR ONE CERTAINLY VOTE AYE…