Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Caesar's Shadow

Politics seems to surround us these days in ways that never seemed possible when the world was a nicer, cleaner, generally more agreeable place to live in – I am referring, of course, to that time in most of our lives when we were younger and therefore thankfully oblivious to the workings of a multi-party and mutinous democracy. Commentators would point to the historical eclipse of the national hegemony of the political party that emerged from the spoils of the independence movement, as a cause. Other movements and more diverse persuasions have now emerged onto a stage from which they espouse their right to represent a million diverse peoples in this country. Another reason would be, of course, the emergence of the calumnious media brigade – an entity that is as divorced as possible from the ideal of one of four necessary pillars of society, and doesn’t resemble anything like that mythical vanguard of the people through which citizens might reach up and grasp a rainbow of enlightened self-rule. 
I propose, though, an alternative reason for this sudden interest in the affairs of representation. When the rate of social change itself is in geometrically multiplied freefall, misrule by government must therefore be blatantly obvious, because Government, by definition, is a behemoth institution – one that by its very nature must accommodate the needs and aspirations of a diverse electorate and adequately represent the baser fantasies of an upwardly mobile, but patently impatient following. Before I appear to be so, please let me state forthwith that I am not in favour of that famous idea marvelously referred to in the first person as the ‘Republic of One’. That was an idea of a much more conscientious human being than I who was railing at the inertia of this nation from a much broader perspective. Neither am I supportive of the basic tenets of what I know of the United States’ ‘Tea Party’ – such multitudes of human beings as we have must necessarily be guided by a strong set of laws and safeguards lest the naturally occurring impulses of a few good men at the top of the food chain drain the rest of this country of any hope of a better life. What I am stating here is a preference towards smaller self-governing regions within this dominion of ours, one that is administered much less federally in which ethnic sections of the populace have a greater say in their immediate affairs. We are constantly reminded of the travails of the Kashmiri people, so too the rights of tribals in the hinterland, not to forget the completely opaque conditions of life of our brethren in the North-East of the country. By slicing up the economic and political pieces of this great national pie, we would be giving ourselves more of a chance to return to those times of lesser strife, when everyone knew what resources they were entitled to and that they were finite, and when a junior member leaving the household was treated as an occasion of reverence and awe. The evils of constant migration, disparate understandings of rural and urban life, the blight of poor education and the standard lack of survival skills to succeed in the professional world, would at once be pondered on from a respectful distance and prepared for with less unrewarding haste… I speak of a time when a high school graduate from Himachal Pradesh views a college in Chennai as distantly as he would view one in Massachusetts, and compares the benefits of studying in either based on what he would eventually hope to achieve professionally. The world sadly is not getting smaller, that illusion persists only in our minds. Perhaps our understanding of the world should consider its real size and its concrete divisions – A world where a young student studying in Tehran is taught that a neighboring country with a military arsenal on a proven short fuse should not exist, where the only God a child soldier in the Congo knows is his commandant, where a Tamil refugee in a camp across the Palk Strait is regarded by a resident in Rameshwaram as a foreigner, where the Government of India does not offer a single paisa in aid to the countless millions of suffering flood victims in a country in which it has the largest incentive to win hearts and minds.

News Update on Aug 14th 2010 - The Indian Government finally gives birth to a conscience.

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