'Your failures are not teaching you anything.'
'Your demonetisation failure is not teaching you anything; your GST failure is not teaching you anything; your (revocation of) Article 370 failure is not teaching you anything; your NRC Assam failure is not teaching you.'
'And now you have the CAA!'
"We are in a dangerous tailspin. But if we don't fight it now, don't fight it out, the costs for future generations will be higher," Kannan Gopinathan tells Rediff.com's Prasanna D Zore in the second of a three-part must-read interview:
Could you tell us about your experience of engaging with people on contentious issues like Article 370, CAA and NRC?
I never try to preach anything; I just ask questions.
I really ask questions as to why do you think what is happening is happening and whether you think it is correct or not?
Do you think Kashmiris will be alienated by this (abolition of Article 370) or will be happy by it?
Everybody knows the answer. Everybody in this country knows the answer whether Kashmiris are going to be alienated or are going to be supportive.
And if you think Kashmiris will be alienated, will it be good for the country? The answer is automatically 'no'. And if it is bad for the country, then should we support it?
It is simple questions like these and no in depth arguments about the merits and demerits of Article 370. These are common sense questions.
It has been four-and-a-half months now (after the revocation of Article 370 in Kashmir), and the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) is saying that there are higher chances of radicalisation (of the Kashmiri youth) and more chances of terrorist attacks possible now.
These implications need not have taken four months to become evident. If they had asked me I would have alerted the government that this is going to happen in Kashmir.
This is what happens when you try to shut down the critical thinking ability of the people.
You only want bureaucrats, security officials to say 'yes' to you. When that happens, the quality of your decision making goes down drastically.
There's news today that there are murmurs in the government that there was an error of judgment with respect to the CAB (now CAA).
There was an error of judgement in everything this government (of Narendra Damodardas Modi) has done. They have to understand the basic reason is this government has been dumb beyond imagination. Add to it, that they are also very dictatorial. That is a deadly combination.
If you are just dumb, somebody can correct you. There are five people around you they can tell you and convince you about your dumbness. But when you are also dictatorial, you won't listen to anybody. Your dumbness becomes the only way through which the country will be run.
What kind of questions are you raising about CAA and NRC?
The same set of questions (I ask about Article 370).
Why does India need NRC? Why was CAA necessary?
What happened in Assam after the NRC process was completed?
The majority of people who were excluded from the NRC were Hindus. Then there were Muslims and most of these were excluded from the NRC because of lack of documents. Not because they came from here and there (from Bangladesh). They just did not have the documents that were required to get their names included into the NRC.
Who are the people who did not have documents in this country?
I don't have to answer these questions. These are people who are poor, migrants, you know, women who marry off and go to their husband's place without documents, people affected by flood; people who are homeless.
All sort of poor people and Adivasis are the sort of people who will not have documents to prove their citizenship and existence.
The next question is what does the government believe?
If I have to get pension, it is not sufficient that I go to the government office. I have to go to the government office with a life certificate saying that I am alive. It is not sufficient to go tell them you are alive; they need a certificate from a third party saying that you are alive.
The government relies only on documents and then the question comes which are the documents you will need, what kind of documents, which year's documents and then what kind of people are not having these documents.
And the next question is what will the people do (if they don't have government mandated documents)? So, when they don't have them they are unable to prove their identity and the government does not empathise with the kind of panic and anxiety such hardships cause to the poor of this country.
We are unable to even connect our economic measures and see the panic that our society is in. Economic activity is just an expression of a societal state of mind. When the society is happy, you spend and your economy is good.
If the society is tensed for whatever reason, your economy will be bad. But right now, the society is tensed not because of the economy; it is tense because of the government's policies which deliberately create tension in the society.
This becomes a loop and right now we are in a dangerous tailspin. But if we don't fight it now, don't fight it out, the costs for future generations will be higher.
We must stand up and tell that CAA and NRC are not going to be done in this country. But I think we may come back from this point. From this point, the nation will start building up from the way it has headed down.
This government itself can do a lot better once they understand that such kind of decisions will not be accepted. That is the only thing they need to understand.
You just can't go on imposing Tughlaqi decisions one after the other after the other after the other.
Your failures are not teaching you anything. Your demonetisation failure is not teaching you anything; your GST failure is not teaching you anything; your (revocation of) Article 370 failure is not teaching you anything; your NRC Assam failure is not teaching you. And now you have the CAA!
This is the dumbest and most dictatorial attitude of this government beyond any imagination. Even if you are most hateful and half as intelligent you will not do this (implement policies like these).
They just don't know what they're doing.