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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anna and Hazaar problems


Coimbatore, a city that’s quite different from Chennai, my hometown is apparently destined to witness a student upsurge in a bid to join Anna Hazare and a dozen other talking heads on TV in their fight against corruption. I am yet to reach a consensus characterised by clarity on this issue; I am still oblivious and confused about a lot of things in pertinence to the whole saga. I have been a silent spectator of the thousands of debates that have been happening on Facebook.
The members of the civil society themselves seem to have different stances on the nature of Lokpal that should make the final cut. The opposition, as usual is busy uniting the “majority” on the issue with secessionist forces working overtime to paint the town orange. The ruling party meanwhile is craving for the support of the minorities urging them to call the movement undemocratic. The Netas meanwhile have been equivocating and contributing to the rich, old tradition of the Congress by spouting nonsense 24*7. The media is hyperactive as ever, discovering and rediscovering various angles to the protests, inventing or even creating a few occasionally. The “experts” have been quite cynical and haven’t minced words by calling it an undemocratic movement. The general public, on the other hand, are at their garrulous best: clich├ęs are omnipresent. Some call it India’s second war of independence, some are equating Anna to Gandhi or JP, and some are associating the scenario with the ones in Tunisia and Egypt. Some people sincerely believe that the inception of the Lokpal is gonna bring about a radical change and that its members possess magic wands that are likely to completely wipe out corruption. Few people understand that Anna Hazare is Anna Hazare and not Harry Potter!
I personally feel that it’s plain absurd to call it India’s second war of independence and refer to Anna as the contemporary version of Gandhi simply because the ground rules are different. Back then, we were fighting an alien imperialist force that was dictating terms and hell bent on keeping us on a lower plane; the convenience of an established system of representative governance was not available at our disposal. With a democracy in place, there is no need for us to take up an aggressive anti-establishment stance; atleast for the enlightened middle class that knows nothing about the struggles of the oppressed that are fighting a charged up capitalist class. There is no term in English to describe or abuse the comparisons of this movement to the ones in Egypt and Libya. It’s a blatant insult that’s been designed to hurt and abuse the concept of logical thinking and rationalism.
The biggest joke, however, is the belief system that the mere passing of the bill will lead to the eradication of corruption. I have my own reservations and queries about the constituent members of the Lokpal:
1.       How can we afford to select the members purely on the basis of faith and past records? What’s the guarantee that power won’t corrupt the committee after the bill is legitimised?
2.       Isn’t there a high probability that certain communities may remain unrepresented in the Lokpal and hence, feel insecure? When I talk about communities, there are infinite grounds of classification to complicate things.  Classification can be based on geographical, religious, casteist, political and ideological basis.
3.       How can there possibly be a proper system of selection wherein a team that satiates most of the people, other than a plebiscite? And in case a plebiscite is arrived upon as the method of selection, how can we even dream of a team devoid of political leanings?

I also feel that it’s unfair to bring the PM under the ambit of the Lokpal. Any minor reference or a trivial allegation by the Lokpal against the PM may initiate a nationwide upheaval which in turn will initiate a domino effect on the opposition and the media. So the PM will be forced to put all his responsibilities including that as the leader of the ministry on hold; nationwide calls for his resignation will become inevitable and a person of supreme national importance will be reduced to a position of helpless self-defence.

Calling it a totally undemocratic movement is an argument that doesn’t hold water though. 65 years post-independence, we are still being ruled by the same family that took over the reins as soon as the clock struck twelve on the 15th of August 1947 though they have been far from efficient in terms of alleviation of the various problems that plague the country. It says a lot of things: about the lack of options (a proper opposition that is), about the high-handedness and oppressive tendency of the ruling party (though that’s an issue that’s definitely not beyond debate) and the general tendency of the Indian public to constantly ignore the power of democracy and the serious issues that result when one chooses to neglect the duties of a citizen of a democratic regime. So the whole concept of democracy and its functionality in a country known for its diversities needs a re-think. I think we need to be quite liberal about its definition. The people have taken to the streets to fight corruption today simply because the popular definition of democracy seems to have failed them. Since the outcry against corruption is unanimous, peaceful and doesn’t marginalise anyone at the moment, I think it’s ok to take the liberty to call it a neo-democratic movement that places people’s views at the forefront. But the point is, if and when we dedicate one-tenth of the time and effort we have put in to make this movement a resounding success to our democratic duty, won’t the world be a much better place to live in? Do Anna and gang have the guts to take it to the next level and educate people about their responsibilities as citizens of a democracy? Do they have it in them to contest the next general elections and win it on the basis of good faith? Will the ever hypocritical middle class keep their casteist, religious preferences aside and vote for them?

Another critical point put forth by cynics with respect to middle class hypocrisy and media preferences is the constant snubbing of fasts orchestrated by Medha Patkar, Irom Sharmila and others for significant causes that demand attention. I think it’s not reasonable to expect the middle class to join the struggle against a cause that they can hardly relate to. On the hindsight, the media should take the blame for not sensationalising non-glamorous issues.  At the end of the day, I think nothing’s gonna change unless we evolve from species longing for spicy news on the arrest of a high profile minister to responsible citizens willing to contribute whole heartedly to the functioning of the democracy.


Friday, August 19, 2011

I MARCH ON

I generally abstain myself from writing personal posts because I feel no one but me will be able to relate to it. But then, a thought that struck me as I was busy attending nature's call at midnight today. One unassuming look from the third floor balcony of the hostel in which I reside was the reason behind that thought. I discovered that people are always interested in what's happening in others' life than their own. So much so that, their own actions tend to be moulded by the proceedings in the environment. Before I get a little more philosophical and hence, a little more boring, I'd like to issue a statutory warning. This isn't a post about one particular incident, this is just a random assimilation of thoughts, a collection of observations that have been wrecking havoc in my already incapacitated mind (not that I mind ,or care to repair!) And yeah, this isn't about Anna Hazare and his gang either. You're currently reading the mind of a person who is trying hard not to take things seriously and live the same on his own terms. If you are yawning already , fu** off: it's my blog and I have the right to be as authoritative and boring as my ex-girlfriend!
This is the last year of UG college life for me: the second most thought about topic ever since I set foot on this cursed piece of land. First thing, is my convocation day of course: the day they'll shove a worthless piece of paper up my a** and tell me to get the fu** out. I used to speculate a lot about how people would behave when the time to say bye-bye draws closer and closer, I used to gleefully think about it as the year when "equality and fraternity" and a world devoid of discrimination would finally materialize as nerds and free birds (like me) would unanimously hit the cricket ground with the sole ambition of having fun and leaving the field with a beaming smile in tact. I thought of it as a year free of responsibilities (it's always been like that for me though I have hated most things about my college life) for all my classmates. But as usual, my predictions turned out to be wrong.
Projects, placements, GRE, GATE, CAT, IELTS, TOEFL, passports, Visas and the list is long. Suddenly my lame a** friends who were not sure if density is the ratio of mass to volume or volume to mass are busy discussing about the prospects of getting placed in a core company, improving their vocabulary and aptitude. The guys who used to drag me to the ground to play are now busy with their projects. My friends who used to quibble loudly alongside me as we took a walk around the campus sipping a cup of coffee after dinner have chosen to restrain themselves to the four walls of their rooms and rejoice deep within at the prospect of having mugged up another word from the never ending Barron's word list. All of a sudden, the world has become a lonely place. Back home, my best friend is going to the UK in pursuit of bluer skies and another is planning to do his MBA  for reasons best known to himself and the almighty!
One emotion unanimously runs through the spine of every single person that is left with no other choice but to eat the sub-standard food that's being served at our place of residence: fear! The fear of things to come; the fear of the possibility of a neighbour knowing an extra word in the word list because you sleep for five minutes more than him; the fear of a company rejecting you, because there are ONLY 23 more core companies waiting to recruit you on campus and much more off it. The fear that has managed to confine my buddies to the company of the four walls that surround them has made me explore the hostel premises like a nomad, in search of a like-minded liberated soul that'd accompany me for a cup of coffee and a debate that comes with it.
Since I have not had much to do, I have been doing things I am usually sceptical about. Cleaning my room for example. The whole hostel came to a standstill as they didn't want to miss the opportunity of getting to watch a once in a lifetime event. After a few wide-eyed moments, the fiery-eyed monsters buried their heads into Barrons' as usual. And I sighed as usual.
If there's something more depressing than the placements, it's the dull faces and the complaint boxes that one gets to encounter after the knowledge that they haven't made the cut dawns upon the unprivileged! The level of pessimism that fills people's blood can reach dizzy heights, with medical consequences occasionally. I had the privilege of noticing two boys known for their jealousy whose faces had turned blue due to the changes in concentration of the blood elements, which in turn can be attributed to the overdose of pessimism. One boy wanted to file a police complaint against another because he suspects the latter of having frisked away a lucky pen of his deliberately, one that has brought him tremendous luck in his exams. A pessimistic dumbo who has failed in his interview is the worst person you could wish to meet. It's possible to listen to a drunk chauvinist complaining about his girlfriend's infidelity but it's impossible to listen to an industry discard.
When I talk about all this to my fellow friends, they accuse me of being incredibly carefree. Besides, they accuse god of blessing me with such an attitude and a life full of luck and totally devoid of disappointments while all that they have received is a mouth that's always ready to complain and a mind that's depressed by default! I have just one thing to tell them all. Yesterday, I faced the biggest disappointment of my life. I was dropped from my college cricket squad, the only thing I have been serious about after coming to college. It may sound trivial to the big men who are ready to lock horns with the vagaries of life. But for a person like me who still cherishes the good old ways of fun, for a person to whom the big things in life are not so big and the small streaks of happiness are the only ones that matter, whose belief system works on a minuscule span, it was quite a big blow! Still, I believe that I'll walk to the ground everyday to get my daily bit of practice, with my chin up. I am quite sure that an insignificant event like an exclusion from a college squad is not gonna hurt my love for the game which is obviously eternal. I am the same boisterous, exceedingly frank, eccentric, fun loving guy who enjoys attention and making fun of others.
I have my own plans for the future and I am quite optimistic and open about life as usual. I have been speculating about my own life, past failures in that dominion haven't stopped me from moving forth. I maybe wrong as usual and end up being the biggest failure that humanity has ever seen; but I am sure about one thing: nothing's gonna change my attitude. I am pretty sure that if and when a classmate of mine spots me sipping tea in a roadside shop ten years down the line, he'll see me doing it with the same degree of fervour with which I am doing it right now, not to forget a few friends alongside and a delicious debate for mutual company. I have learnt only one lesson in life: there's nothing bigger than momentary happiness and there is absolutely no point slogging temporarily in pursuit of greener pastures down the lane. Different things appear big at different junctures. My tenth and twelfth board exams were dubbed as events of astronomical significance, but now I know that they hardly matter. My dear friends sitting for placements and those taking the 3,4 or 5 capital lettered examinations, this moment will pass and you'll end up somewhere, irrespective of your choices and input. So cut the crap and join me. Lets hit the ground!