Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The comeupance is a-coming

I imagine that contemporary popular literature such as Aravind Adiga’s, ‘The White Tiger’, or the combined cultural heritage of the auteur, Satyajit Ray’s films, would spawn a sense of curiosity amongst us about our brethren living forlorn within the inner regions of the Indian subcontinent. But it hasn’t, and if the current impotency of the reach of the Naxalite insurgency to our cities is any indication, it very well will not in the near future. It remains, for the urban mindset, an issue that belongs to the dark-lands extending from the upper reaches of the Cauvery Delta through to the Telengana Plateau and extending from the arid plains of newly carved states such as Chattisgarh and Jharkhand, into the Chota Nagpur plateau – the region of the decadent political and social horrors of states such as Bihar and West Bengal.

Even these geographical and regional terms have no meaning for those of us who get up in the morning to a cup of coffee or tea and move onto the newspaper and the bath, to eventually occupy the spaces in our offices and workplaces, smug in the knowledge of the growing balance in our savings accounts and our provident funds. Development in India hasn’t just been a mixed bag since the 1990s – it is the veritable difference of night and day, monsoon and summer, hope and utter hopelessness... divided between the places of light and the areas of darkness, determined by the economic clout of our middle and upper classes.
What of the child in the village who hasn’t been provided adequate nutrition from the ages 0 to 3, which has inevitably led to mental and physical retardation, and who is thereby condemned to never aspire to any part in the Modern Indian Success Story? What of the farmer tilling his meager half-acre plot of land which will feed the bellies of his growing family only if his hard-won produce does not succumb to another bad year in the never ending vagaries of seasons of drought or flood? What of the rural woman who delivers children year after year without a sense of there being any other reason for her existence?
‘Not my problem’, says the executive to his friend. ‘I pay my taxes… What else can I do?’ If there really is nothing else you can do, my friend, be prepared for the sun-blackened and starving zombie to enter your living room, to take a crap on your priceless rug, looking lasciviously at your wife and daughters while holding a gun to your head.

The civil war is coming to a kitchen near you, and whatever we think about the ideologies of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), and whatever Manmohan Singh says about our “greatest internal security threat”, and how many ever forces we deploy in our inner jungles and highlands, it will not stem the tide. They have been ignored for far too long. They watch us, they envy us, they want to be us. They will eventually take from us without first politely asking.

1 comment:

  1. It would of course be devastating, but an interestingly bizarre scenario if an urban population were forced by mother earth, to seek refuge in a darkland.

    "Give me a phone, now! I have to call my broker."

    "Sorry sir. No phone. But light the pooh I left for you. It'll keep you warm, alive and well."

    Eaten or served?