Back in 2005, long before social media trends ruled our lives, forcing likes and dislikes down our queasy throats, nobel laureate Amartya Sen, came up with the seminal book--The Argumentative Indian--a collection of essays focusing on the importance of public debate.
We Indians love adda (a legacy of yore that has spread like a viral disease from the tea stalls of Kolkata to the college canteens of Delhi), peppered with politics, cricket and sometimes discussing on the length of the skirts of our top Bollywood actresses.
In the "golden" old days of adda too, discussions had its own ups and downs, at times turning violent where gentlemen were seen holding each other's collars and ladies pulling their opponent's free flowing mane.
Luckily, most of these bitter experiences hardly ended up in firing of gun shots and remained restricted within the walls of a tea stall or a college canteen. Those roadside brawls were innocent, compared to today's malicious discourses powered by internet, and hardly had the mastery to spread like a wildfire razing down the entire nation.
The elderly leisurely ruminate about days when two (or many) opposing individuals/groups of any adda after a dose of verbal duel could be seen next day sitting together in the same wooden creaky bench, drinking the same syrupy-sweet milk tea and again discussing the same old subjects.
Those civilised interactions on even the most controversial topics upheld the secular, democratic and plural ethos of the country. It is not that we are no more secular or democratic in nature, we very much are. Otherwise we too risk becoming another Pakistan, where majority rules and minority lives in fear (most often they die).
Imagine now, someone taking a contrarian view and posting on Twitter or Facebook something like-- "I love eating beef" or "I support Kashmiri stone pelters" or "I don't support Prime Minister Narendra Modi"...
All hell will break loose. Right? First the gangs of internet trolls would virtually lynch the person on his/her timeline. Then, television studios would pick up the rage and whip it further. The person might even invite FIR and arrest against him/her for hurting tradition and culture. After a few days, the drama will end a slow death, like all spectacles that originate on social media.
Then again, one more new episode of outrage and debate--topic could be anything--Kashmir, farmers' protests or beef--one thing that joins all these contests--is chaos and more chaos as if one is standing in the middle of a road and vehicles are honking at you to get out from the sight.
Let us observe a minute of silence over the slow death of "peace".