Friday, May 15, 2009

Grin & bear it

Long time ago, a certain someone with a highly romanticized view of the agrarian life proposed that the Indian National Congress be dissolved with the coming of Independence, and that free India be composed of self-contained colonies of people who keep to themselves and farm their way through life. Such philosophical anarchy was dubbed impractical by the realists who wanted to make sure they guide their motherland through the initial turbulent phase of freedom.

These realists, though, were themselves split down the middle - some were pally with the industrialists, while others believed that the only way forward for everyone was a state-controlled economy. The internal tug-of-war of what was independent India's defacto party made sure that certain things got completely overlooked - the North-East, north-south divide, aspirations of the religious majority, etc. Over sixty years later, and while Kashmir is atleast acknowledged internationally as a troubled hotspot, the problem with the North-East remains - it never gets to bask in the reflected glory of its turmoil. Southern India is in the vice-like grip of half-a-dozen regional parties; western India is similarly possessed by regionalism. And the strict practitioners of the majority faith have a clutch of saffron-coloured outfits to choose from, all of whom descended from the supposed perpetrators of that certain someone's assassination. The policies for tackling socio-economic inequalities were never enough for the Congress's oldest detractors, who in spite of having always lived in the national shadows, have taken a stranglehold over 3 states; elsewhere, such disparities have been taken advantage of by the various caste and religious based fragments, most notably the elephant which seems to be continuing its slow march towards a steadily increasing national vote-share.

Of course, none of these things directly affects me. Or at least they should not, but they do - and they anger me. I see a couple of my peers proud to call themselves Marxists - one, because he wants to be a part of the political system, and the other who, while shunning romanticism, indulges in the same. And when this "other" is being real, he is a victim of knowing small amounts about a lot of things while having not lived through any of those. This is the problem of 2 classes of people - the youth, and the pseudo-intellectual middle-class Marxist. And the intersection of these two classes has meant nothing but trouble since 60s Calcutta. For one, being a middle-class Marxist has meant that one hasn't seen abject poverty and most if not all of one's knowledge is theoretical hence ideal and impractical; secondly, being young means one just hasn't lived through enough or had enough experiences to fall back on, and as in the first case, most of one's knowledge is limited to books.

It is still understandable when a bunch of rural youngsters give up on democracy and take to arms to get rid of the tyranny of the landlords themselves. In an ideal world, all such oppressors will be wiped out and the available resources shall be distributed equally amongst all who deserve. However, as with all revolutions, somewhere down the line some chink is developed in its armour, mostly the leaders' lust for power - so, what started out as a noble albeit violent alternative to a failing democracy is now a pure insurgency which is spreading like a menace, sparing no one, not even the lumpenproletariat who, again I use the word ideally, should be the beneficiaries.

Karat's party was formed as a result of a split between the revisionists and the hardliners; of course, by now everyone who's sane has realized that either way, the goals were too idealistic, so of course, everyone's revising, so much so that the Left's main opposition in Bengal is doing almost exactly what the Left themselves did when they sought to gain power three decades back. It might be true that they're the only ones with any semblance of ideology, but it is truer that their ideology is totally confused, or worse, warped - all the so-called Bengal Leftists did was to create a mafia to secure their immediate interests while fooling a state full of people in the name of social good. So it's easy for those who have nothing to do with Bengal or those who are in power there to walk the Red line - since they are the very same people who don't deserve to talk.

At the other end of the spectrum are a bunch that, again, angers me when in fact it doesn't have anything against me. By birth, I'm a Hindu and that too, a Brahmin. So what am I worried about? If I think about it from my own selfish position, I'm worried about the fact that if these people are allowed to wreak havoc, there'll come a time when there won't be a single good place to have authentic, delicious biryanis and kebabs or a single good darzi left; if I look at it from a less narrow-minded perspective, I'm scared that my great nation's glorious and colourful (even if the darkest shade is the red of people's blood) history will be stained by its (possibly) even bloodier present. A bunch of thugs who slaughter people on the basis of religion, who bring down historical structures and who come to power by taking advantage of the naivety of the faithful do not deserve to run this country.

And in any case, who do they run it for? A select bunch of already filthy rich people who don't care about the welfare of the people as long as their coffers are overflowing. And with whom do they run it? All possible divisive forces, be it in Assam, northern Bengal, Punjab, Haryana or possibly Andhra. And of course, their friends in the western part of the country, who are exemplary of xenophobia at a micro-level. Such groups are multiplying, whereas they should've been outlawed right at the outset - a failure of the nation's Grand Old Party. Neglect by the Congress in the thirty years starting from independence has over the next thirty years culminated into the current mess. The solution? I would like to think anarchy, not necessarily philosophical, but it would require revolution, and aside from the fact that it's not just going to happen without some major push (clearly, terrorist attacks are not), revolutions start off as idealistic, somewhere down the line become impractical and frustrating and finally end up being the profit-making machines of its powerful few, which is not majorly different from our democratic parties.

There we go - the full circle from anarchy to democracy and back is complete. The only plausible solution is a whole gamut:
* to introduce election by absolute majority at all levels, be it civil, legislative or parliamentary, which would require a French-style Round 2.
* anyone with a proven criminal charge or any case pending in a criminal court should be debarred from contesting
* the model code of conduct should ensure that the use of caste, religion, gender or economic status during campaigning should result in immediate disqualification of that party from contesting that seat
* a certain number, preferably half the seats in both legislatures and parliament should be according to vote-shares. The candidates should be allotted according to a precedence list declared prior to the elections (of course, for this the no. of constituencies have to be halved)

Of course, the above measures will never be put into place, primarily because it will be detrimental to both the national as well as the regional parties. So there we have it - right, left or center, nothing works, and anarchy is for the poets. So what do I do, but do what the title says?

2 comments:

  1. Sir, that was wonderful.

    Ideologically, Leftists always won on the rostrum. But in pursuit of vested interests, all are shrinking.

    It can be added that with all forms of Govt being tried, secular(a Pseudo), communists etc.. I fear someone,someday would pop up with an ideal of forming a party with all Pagans??

    With all permutations, sitting here all I can say is that, you've got the right 'title'

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