THE CUMULATIVE BRUTALISATION OF A NATION
In any political dispensation, an ideology based on religious discrimination and majoritarianism is an abomination. When such an ideology is sought to be implemented through legitimate means by enactment of laws, it atleast can be resisted through the same constitutional means. The real danger arises when this ideology is sought to be enforced through subversion of government agencies and dog whistles to non- state actors, with the poison ultimately seeping into the very fabric of society. This is the brutalisation of a nation, the point of no-return.
Is India now in danger of having reached this tipping point?
Avay Shukla graduated with Honours in English from St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta and did his Masters ( English) from Hindu College, Delhi in 1973. He taught for two years in Delhi University before joining the IAS in 1975. He has served in Delhi and Himachal Pradesh in various capacities. He superannuated in December 2010 as Additional Chief Secretary of Himachal Pradesh.
He developed an abiding interest in the natural environment early in his career and has travelled to the remotest regions of Himachal on foot, chronicling the lifestyles of the hardy villagers who live there, the local myths, legends and anecdotal trivia available in abundance. He is President of the HP Trekking Association and is one of the founding members of the Eco-Tourism Society of India. He has been an avid high-altitude trekker for twenty years.
Shukla combines in himself traits of three distinct persona- civil servant, environmentalist and writer- and gives expression to all of them in his writings. He writes extensively on subjects as varied as our country’s canvas itself: current affairs, the environment and conservation, the bureaucracy and governance, legal matters, social issues, societal peccadilloes and anything else he can lampoon. His pieces have been published in the Indian Express, Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Tribune, The Morning Standard, National Herald, digital portals such as THE WIRE and THE CITIZEN, and on websites such as Sify.com and Hillpost.com. He is a prolific blogger and blogs at < avayshukla,blogspot.com>. He has also published four books : THE TRAILS LESS TRAVELLED: TREKKING THE HIMACHAL HIMALAYAS ( 2015 ): an account of ten major high-altitude treks, in which he weaves together the tapestry of nature, myth, mountain lifestyles and cultures to produce a rewarding chronicle of what life in these mountains is like; THE SPECTRE OF CHOOR DHAR ( 2019 ), a collection of short stories set in the mountains ; POLYTICKS, DEMOCKRAZY AND MUMBO- JUMBO ( 2020 ), a satirical and humorous look at our political and social peccadillos, and THE WASTED YEARS ( 2021), an account of missed opportunities since 2014.
Shukla, true to his nature, is settled in a small village, Puranikoti, above Shimla. He is a passable bridge player and a bad golfer. He divides his time between Puranikoti and Delhi. His wife of forty years, Neerja, is a special educator and manages her own NGO, working with children with mental and physical disabilities. He has two sons: Sidharth is a digital media executive with a multi-national and Saurabh is a finance and investment consultant.