'Our generation got independence too easy, we take our freedom too lightly, we treat our country and environment like toilet paper and take the easy way out because we have no sense of pride or self worth except when it is an India-Pakistan match. We need to be broken more so that we may rise,' says film director Suparn Verma.
India has changed a lot over the years.
Chanakya as Chandragupta Maurya's teacher made him an emperor. Today, we have issues with a principal telling students to think.
What is wrong in a college principal telling adult students to have a researched opinion about whom they should vote for before buying into the political parties's Rs 20,000 crore+ marketing campaigns?
Day in and out, leaders, television news anchors, religious heads, parents, society keeps giving us 'informed' opinions, so why has Father Frazer Mascarenhas, principal of Mumbai's St Xavier's college, erred?
As a former Xavierite, I can state with pride it is a college that makes students think for themselves by exposing them to information and ideas.
Xavier's is a college where young adult minds are taught to question everything they see and hear and have an opinion of their own.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has been making a ruckus about Father Frazer while forgetting that its so-called godmen supporters run schools where they teach the party doctrine.
Besides, since when have education and politics stayed away from each other?
The Akhil Bharatiya Parishad is the BJP's student wing. Aditya Thackeray heads the Shiv Sena's student wing and got Rohinton Mistry's novel, Such A Long Journey, banned from Bombay University's syllabus because it said unflattering things about his party. Aditya, incidentally, is an ex-Xavierite.
Why should universities not encourage us to have political views? Are they just meant to be skill development factories?
I have been told that having an opinion and having independent thinking in our country is intellectual terrorism. So be it. Maybe I am naive, but I declare myself a terrorist!
There have been 15 Lok Sabha elections before 2014, but this one is different.
It is not my first election, but this one feels important.
Maybe I am an idealist, but there is a sense in the nation where everyone wants to participate. We no longer live in a world that separates us. Rather, it is a world united by similar aspirations, but different views and voices.
This election has divided friends openly over who they support. No one is closeted about their political choices anymore and yet I am very uneasy when the right wing gets belligerent and shouts down any voice of dissent.
In America, this blindness was symbolised by 'If you are not with us, you are against us'. Here, it is 'If you don't support us, you go to Pakistan.'
The world we live in is about clicking 'Like' to a status that could be about getting a new job, winning the lottery, liking or hating a movie or your pet dog dying. It is a world where we re-tweet statements and articles, news and quotes that we like, dislike, agree and disagree about.
We live in a world of passive engagement, but I hope we will move our butts this time to go and vote.
Maybe I am hopelessly optimistic, but something miraculous happened.
The common man has woken up. Regardless of who they support and what their politics is, they are all sitting up, and not just having their opinion heard, but taking to the streets again and again.
What our political parties haven't realised is that they have been selling us bullshit year after year for 67 years and we have been buying it. We bought everything they told us: Roti, kapda, makan, a better quality of life, improved taxation, laws that work.
What they haven't figured out is that despite many politicians looting this nation blind and having a hundred scams to their names we, the people of India, are an adamant bunch.
We still believe the dream they been repacking and selling us. You know why? Because we are Indians! We believe in miracles! We keep hoping that one day an Indian will come and save us all.
But in the years of waiting, we have gotten a little wiser, we have learnt that you don't get anything by asking. You have to scream! So for the last two years we have begun to scream.
This isn't a piece about who you should vote for, rather it is about keeping your eyes and ears open. Don't blindly believe what is sold to you, disbelieve everything and start from scratch.
A large number of people keep talking about how Narendra Modi will be great for the Indian economy, but do read all the facts about Gujarat's development. If a whole nation is capable of looking away from the 2002 carnage in the name of an economic boom, then why not privatise India?
Let the Ambanis or the Birlas or the Tatas or the Adanis bid for India.
If the idea of privatising your nation's governance seems wrong to you, then think again.
For years now, we have been told that Muslims are the enemy and we are missing out on life because of them.
Muslims are the ones unable to buy apartments in many Indian cities and forced to live in ghettos. Which job did you lose out to a Muslim? In your everyday life, have you ever suffered because of a Muslim?
Why should you care whom you vote for on the basis of her/his religion?
The Congress and the BJP have spent a whopping Rs 20,000 crore (the amount could be much more) on this election. Who on earth is funding these bizarre amounts? And more importantly, after funding these ridiculous amounts, what is the payback they expect?
And why do we need the Gandhi dynasty? Jawaharlal Nehru died 50 years ago; Indira Gandhi died 30 years ago and she was no saint. Rajiv Gandhi died over two decades ago but our dynastic DNA clamoured for more Gandhis, so we had Sonia Gandhi whose only exposure to politics was being Rajiv Gandhi's wife. We let her rule this nation via remote control.
Come May 16, I know we will be in a state of chaos, but that is necessary to pave the way for a better future because to rise again we will have to burn. Burn to the ground and then rise from the ashes.
Our generation got independence too easy, we take our freedom too lightly, we treat our country and environment like toilet paper and take the easy way out because we have no sense of pride or self worth except when it is an India-Pakistan match.
We need to be broken more so that we may rise.
Suparn Verma, a member of the founding team of journalists at Rediff.com, is now a well-known film director.
Image: Youngsters pose after voting in Mumbai. Image used for representational purposes only. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com