Monday, September 22, 2008

The simmering cauldron

Spread a map of India in front of you; close your eyes and place your finger anywhere on the map. Note the name of the place and look up the same on Google; eight out of ten cases the place must have been in news for some or the other violent outbreak. Such has been the increase of intolerance that it seems the diversity which drives this nation is proving a bane of her existence. What is it that afflicts India? We have forgotten to live in peace. In fact I doubt whether we ever lived in peace. These days we fight among ourselves, decades back we fought against imperialists, go back further and again you find that the princely states used to fight among themselves. Is this a vicious cycle which is waiting to repeat itself? Are we preparing, unwittingly, to enslave ourselves in another form of imperialism? This isn't a figment of my imagination because I find it hard to believe that the collective wisdom of our political leaders won't be ridden with fault lines when the same lot refuses to rise above party lines on national issues.
This myopic vision of our leaders which fails to see the strife afflicted people as an impediment to the realization of India as a modern and strong nation has been on display quite prominently in recent times. Take for example the Amarnath land row. Just how opportunistic political parties can be to score brownie points against each other is a tale in itself. This is a classic example of parties becoming victims of their regional aspirations. But what explains the behavior of national parties which preferred sitting on the issue while their sister organizations went on a rampage? That they still wear the badge of 'national party' is hypocrisy of the highest order. The State should have inspired confidence in people but here there has been a complete failure. People are brazenly demanding 'freedom' and are not hesitating to display their mutinous tendencies. Certain elements in the Valley have seized onto this moment of inactivity shown by the government, both Central and local, and have further fanned the fury of misguided and disgruntled youth. While a certain 'national' party announces nation wide 'bandhs' and supports the violence perpetrated by its party members, notorious terrorists rejoice and unabashedly announce that the party in question has served the purpose of the terrorists more than any body else!
How can a nation fulfill its aspirations of becoming a global leader when her people are not ready to mingle among themselves? Mumbai has annual floods, has plenty of potholes to discourage anyone from buying vehicles, but still certain politicians prefer spending time and effort on finding who is not upholding the Marathi cause, who does not owe allegiance to the city and dares to call some other place as his home. We choke Tasleema and Hussain from expressing themselves. We burn down Churches to prevent them from converting people while conveniently forgetting that it were the missionaries who had attended to such people in their times of need.
Sometimes I think what personalities Gandhi and Nehru must have been. They were at a time when Indians were most vulnerable to get misled by external and divisive forces. That the nation survived and grew emboldened along with its aspirations seeded by her leaders is remarkable. The overarching personalities of Gandhi and Nehru inspired generations which tried to emulate the principles these leaders stood for. But a look at the present political class makes me hang my head in shame. What is the political leader of today teaching us? The political leader cheats on his ally to stay in power in Karnataka. The political leader drives the industry out and ruins the chances of WB to progress. The political leader imprisons her rival out of personal vendetta. The political leader orchestrates a massacre and walks with his head high. The political leader barters his vote for a cabinet post on an issue which he has no knowledge of. That political leader was elected by us - a shame we have inflicted upon ourselves! A nation which traditionally has been a worshipper of heroes now suddenly finds itself staring at a lot which occupies the highest pedestals in public life but have the lowest of moral values. After all those years of struggle and strenuous efforts to build a nation if our forefathers were to visit us from heaven they would again die a second death at the decadence the polity presents today.
India has become a cauldron of emotions that simmers today. Venal chefs stir the emotions and add deadly herbs to serve their purpose. The fire below the cauldron gets fed continuously to keep the brew simmering. I fear at the thought of what's cooking.