Friday, August 04, 2006
Here’s something I came upon, written 7 years ago. Some things have changed in India, making life very upbeat for some. But the situation remains much the same for all others.
A nation rooted in corruption, inefficiency and injustice, institutionalised by its predominantly decadent Hindu upper caste political rulers, through a cynical, divisive political system of living off vote-banks, in return for appeasing crumbs thrown to cruel leaders thriving on the ignorance, poverty, powerlessness and marginalisation of the masses. A colonial system of power continuing unchanged, with a centralised, authoritarian state apparatus, breeding a parasitical self-serving politico-administrative class, living off the fat of the land and the blood of the people.
Almost half of the country struggling for survival, and most others grimly trying to hold on to whatever little they have, in a 'globalising' environment that has taken economy, society and culture for a giant wheel spin. The benefits of fifty years of the republic having been appropriated in full measure by a tiny layer of elites, living in utter comfort, privilege and power, at the expense of everybody and everything else. The prevailing ethos, 'each one for himself, by hook or by crook, and the devil take the hindmost'. The nation, for the elites, if it has any meaning at all, is limited to the very limited social, cultural, linguistic, symbolic and human universe that they inhabit, and the colonial status they occupy in free India. This is a rootless world, buoyed up the blood money extracted from India by the world economic system through the middleman-ship of her own rapacious parasites.
The land, forests, rivers, water resources, hills and mountains severely ravaged in environmental terms. Institutions run to the dogs. Mediocrity and incompetence rules. Social consciousness, integration and service a rare species. Power commanded by money and brute force. Citizens ignorant, apathetic, listless, cynical. Compromised. Animal passions, ancient hatreds, prejudice, contempt, violence on the ascendant. A society riven with discontent, among its minorities, backward and formerly untouchable castes, indigenous groups and less-developed, far-flung regions. Attacks on minorities. Separatist violence and anti-insurgency operations in distant boundaries, and crime at the grassroot. A legacy of the 'communal question' of colonial times, the continuing tragic saga of Hindu-Muslim antipathy in the subcontinent, itself an outcome of the more fundamental historically unaddressed question of the structures of governance, nationhood and identity in the context of social, cultural and ethnic pluralism in South Asia, in this day and age.
Communal riots and disruptions from time to time stoked by small and big players - politicians, hoodlums, real estate promoters, feeding upon and in turn feeding communal divisions. The legacy of colonial rule and partition continuing to haunt Kashmir, a state claimed by both India and Pakistan. Separatist militancy, terrorism, mujahideen fighters, ethnic cleansing, army operations, a war-like situation, human rights violations. Kashmir, a perpetual imbroglio, bleeding the country and keeping alive the fire of Hindu-Muslim communalism.
A nation steeped in inefficiency, injustice, indecency, indignity, indiscipline. Elections, coalition government formation and functioning fuelled by the ever-growing desire, of ever-growing numbers of the most cynically corrupt politicians, to make it to the centre to share the loot of office, using money, or violent force, or communal fires to come to office. Political parties deeply compromised in corruption and incapability during office, synonymous with opportunism, distortion of the legal machinery, divisive vote-bank politics and its ping-pong repercussions, alienated from substantive engagement with different sections of the common people, ideologically bankrupt and consisting almost entirely of professional politicians lacking in any merit whatsoever, except a manic ego, a lust for power and the loaves of office to be fulfilled by any means whatsoever. The basest motives and purposes drive political activity. A political party coming to legislative significance through willfully stoking upper-caste Hindu chauvinism, and aimed against minorities, backward castes and indigenous peoples.
Villages and slums remain in darkness. Unlettered women live out the gruelling ordeal of life. Children die for lack of clean drinking water.
Painting: Grief Revisited, watercolor © Melanie Weidner 2005.