The other day I got stuck in Ambience Mall waiting for a friend to join me for lunch. Since our luncheon appointment had got postponed by a couple of hours, I decided to while away my time at the movie theatre. Much against my own wishes, I walked into the ‘Pathaan’ matinee show. Phew! Non stop action it was. But what caught my fancy was that so many of the protagonists were wearing torn jeans. Something that I have never fathomed over the last few years. But I guess it is fashionable nowadays to wear ripped and frayed clothes.
A youngster tells me condescendingly, “Uncle they are not torn, they are distressed!” Now where did that come from? The British punk movement inducted this development which was further adapted by the American youth as a mark of rebellion. And today it is a world-wide style statement to tear off and damage perfectly serviceable garments. Upsetting indeed it is for the antiquated, but then the new-gen majority wins.
Well last couple of days have been distressing in some other ways as well. The images coming out of the Delhi MCD House and the Ajnala Police station in Punjab could not have better embodied the torn social fabric of our great nation. Not quite like the earlier Sputnik moments of the Babri-Masjid fiasco, the Operation Bluestar and the Godhra riots. But nevertheless events which portend the times we are entering.
Why do I strangely feel that we have moved two steps forward and probably ten in the reverse direction? Toffler and many other futurologists saw it coming decades ago. Must compliment them for that. ‘Lower-level affiliations’ with ‘never-ending aspirations’ will always challenge the status quo. As long as the higher polity exploits the internal inadequacies for temporal and parochial gains, this is bound to happen. There is a sense of latent inevitability to these occurrences.
The over-arching roadmap laid out in any national constitution must be captured in accordance with universal principles of ‘the larger good of humanity’. Affinities of religion, caste, creed and race are not to be discarded like in classic secularity but rather subsumed instead. The driving philosophy needs to be to bind and not to divide society. If it is the least biased in any form, the resultant imbalances are bound to raise their ugly head sooner or later.
To be fair to our founding fathers, they attempted to do a decent job. But unfortunately it was not a perfect job. Instead of adopting utmost ‘equality of opportunity’ and ‘legal uniformity’, they created newer differentials in a world already reeling under previous ones.
Social engineering is always a see-saw battle. Privileges once granted can never be taken back easily. Some of the impoverished may benefit but it will always be at the cost of putting someone else at a disadvantage. Our happiness and satisfaction perspectives are always based on relative terms. I don’t want to be rich, I just want to be richer. I am okay to suffer as along as my suffering is lesser.
Trodden and enslaved, ridden with fault lines over centuries, we had the chance of a lifetime to set our house in order. That opportunity came our way at the stroke of a midnight in 1947. It lasted till the time we adopted our constitution in 1950 to declare ourselves a federal republic. Sadly, we missed the bus and continue to do so with no signs of a mid-course correction.
Many years back, I happened to visit Singapore on a week’s holiday. Like India, their population also hails from varied ethnicities. They have the Chinese, the Malay and the Indians apart from a small spattering of some other backgrounds. Wherever I went across in the small island nation, I used to ask people about their ethnicity.
To my surprise, a very common type of response that I received was, “I am of Chinese/ Malay/ Indian descent but I am Singaporean first”. Even a primary school kid gave me the same answer. At that moment, I realized where lay the roots of blending affiliations and the resultant social harmony.
Of course, it pains to see elected councillors shamefully assaulting each other in full public view of the media. This was but a trailer. The graver act played out in Punjab where a large-scale act of separatism and violence was so meekly condoned. The state looked helpless, impotent and under siege.
The arsonists got away without a whimper much like it happened at the Red Fort a few months back. The underlying credo being that if justice can be meted out by bulldozers, it surely can be sought by swords and guns.The two events truly represent what Indian politics has progressively but surely come about. Criminality, corruption, polarisation and power (C2P2).
Fantastic advertisement of democratic beliefs in a country hosting the G-20 summit! If this is progress, I certainly don’t want a trillion dollar economy. My old-fashioned jeans cost much lesser then the distressed ones but they make me comfortable under my skin. I call myself a pragmatic optimist. But I do not see too much of light at the end of the tunnel. Normally, I tend to blame my lenses. Unfortunately today I had wiped them clean.
In a Westphalian world, the state must be virtuous and it must prevail. If it does not, beware that it will be prevailed upon. We need to be extremely careful regarding what we pass on to Gen-next, lest they blame it on their genes.
What we see my friends is not called radical activism.
In vintage days, it was termed as anarchy and treated as such.
First published at seekmdiation.com on 26/02/28
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