Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Psycho Sloganeering

Far be it from me to ever pledge my unconditional support to The Market as an agent for sweeping positive change across every socio-economic indicator in India, but the facts are the facts are The Facts.

Sloganeering on: subsidies on essential products, community and caste promotion, reservations for education and employment, non-uniform divorce and alimony rights based on religious affiliation, narrow definitions of what constitutes an individual’s right to sexual orientation, sops for the poor just before elections, employment guarantees, farmers’ rights, international relations based on defunct ideologies, and the supposed urban-rural divide in the expectations of a class-based citizenry… is not just a cruel misappropriation of the hopes and dreams of a billion people by depraved lobbyists and scheming interest groups, but the hijacking of a civil society that owes its very existence to a prayer for equal opportunity.

What has brought on this post is the latest disgraceful episode in the parallel (and constantly encroaching) universe of popular sloganeering; The opposition parties’ call for a Bharat Bandh against the government’s decision to eventually abolish the disparity between the price of fuel being brought into the country and how much it is sold for within our borders.

In 2009, India imported 2.56 million barrels of oil per day, making it one of largest buyers of crude oil in the world. It is the fourth largest consumer of petroleum products in the world after the U.S., China and Japan but is 24th in the world when it comes to petroleum production at 854,000 barrels per day. India's existent oil reserves, found only in areas around Mumbai, parts of Gujarat, Rajasthan and eastern Assam, meet only 25% of the country's domestic oil demand. India's total proven oil reserves stand at 11 billion barrels, of which the Mumbai Area is believed to hold 6.1 billion barrels and Mangala Area in Rajasthan, an additional 3.6 billion barrels.

An admission is called for here; I have in my possession a diesel car that was bought recently due to the consistently lower pricing mechanism that the heavier oil is subjected to due to its standing as the primary source of energy in the transportation of all sorts of goods – essential and otherwise – to every corner of our large country. I bought my car at a price that was 10% higher than the same model that uses petrol for fuel, because of the understanding that the price of diesel will continue to be subsidized more than petrol by the Indian Government due to the above mentioned reason and, thereby, more than make up for the difference in the cost of the car over the medium to the long term. The fact that the Government recently announced that it had no choice but to raise fuel prices because major state-owned oil retailers were bleeding the economy dry because of current subsidies, and eventually bring the price of petrol and diesel on par with what it costs to purchase it in the world’s oil markets is, therefore, a particularly brutal kick in the nuts for me.

The dilemma of the common man is what I am facing. But my dilemma means nothing to the millions of nameless and faceless subsistence farmers having to suddenly contend with a rise in prices for the fuel they need to be able to plough their fields, irrigate their lands and transport their goods, so as to provide for their immediate families.
But what the farmer and I share is the knowledge that: the certain crops he is forced to cultivate because of the Government of India’s policies, the agricultural markets that he has no access to because of the existence of a vast network of influential middlemen, the lack of access to primary health centres and schooling for his children because of a plethora of issues related to Employee Unions and a lack of infrastructure, and the migration of his relatives and friends to urban areas where they live in such close proximity to fabulous wealth while having absolutely no way to get into those towering skyscrapers and glass-walled palaces and take part in the New Economy… is all due to the evil that such Sloganeering has wrought.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Go Green, going Green, Green gone

If the most significant achievement in our common history as a species was the Industrial Revolution, then what does the very raison d'être of our present primacy in the affairs of the world leading onto what many believe is our imminent downfall and extinction, tell us about ourselves?
Will the ghosts of the great intellectuals (or thought-leaders as modern parlance would have it) of history breathe a great big silent sigh of relief?
Will the collective bequest of a history of magnificent triumph over adversity, of reason over superstition, of science over myth, of heroism over weakness mean nothing at all in the great quiet that will pervade this earth once we pass?
Will the God we praise in all His/Her forms and revelations literally cease to exist… at least to a consciousness that can recognize the everlasting value It holds?
Is our passing ever going to be disseminated and researched by chimerical beasts in an inevitable future non-human civilization?
Does the standard I bear right here right now, the cross I carry right here right now, the means I endure in a wish to serve an imagined end right here right now, even matter to the passage of the endless empty time that will suffuse the planet in an eerily vacant glow until the end of its existence?