A country is not a one-celled animal that it can only focus or do one thing at a time. Nor is a human being so. A country needs to have an organizational ability (through its Executive, Administrative, Legislative, and Judiciary) to tackle many fronts at the same time.
Lately, we have had a horrendous incident of Rape, which has brought the issue of rape to the fore-front. Now, it seems rapes are happening everywhere and everyday and with every one. Suddenly, women in India seem to be besieged. As if India is nothing but a huge ball of testosterone run wild.
People who were talking eloquently about India’s rise as an economic power are now talking about the rapes and how India is completely “lawless”.
It is not as if rapes weren’t happening earlier. Nor were women treated with kid gloves in buses and trains. It isn’t as if gang rapes is a new phenomenon. And, it is not as if rapes weren’t reported either. Everything was there. Our focus wasn’t.
It is not as if suddenly the wild men of India have dragged our progress down. It is not as if a women executive from Goldman Sachs coming to India will be welcomed by Boardrooms full of hungry wolves. The Economic “wonder” of India is still where it was two weeks back. Our focus isn’t.
Two Jawans were beheaded recently and suddenly the barbarism of Pakistani Army is being talked about strongly. It is not as if Pakistan has suddenly become a rogue. As if suddenly a devil has descended on Pakistani Army, and the Angels in that organization have suddenly turned malafide. They were as rogue… as barbaric and as inhuman two weeks back as they are now. Everything just as it is today was there. Our focus wasn’t.
Learn to be a Nation
We have to learn that a Nation of 1.2 bn means a lot … a LOT of issues. A LOT of fronts on which LOTS of battles have to fought. Everyone in every sphere in every branch of governing and civil as well as military life has to do his/her days work honestly. Unfortunately, we have become a nation where if someone does actually do a day’s work honestly – like E. Sreedharan – becomes a hero. Why? Because the dude simply completed something that he had started. Just that. Nothing much. He didn’t go up into the sky and bring the stars down. He didn’t make the fastest railway in the world. He didn’t make the longest railway line over a raging sea or ocean. He just started putting a railway line and he completed it in such a way that he actually had proper trains running over them and on time.
Now, everyone was focusing on that, because that was the ONLY thing that bloody worked!! Nothing else works! So that is the “Pride of Delhi”! Why? Because in that God-damned city only ONE THING WORKS… and that is the Metro. This metro isn’t the best in the world.. isn’t the longest.. wasn’t the toughest to build.. wasn’t the most different. It is just a simple metro that works! And it is our PRIDE! Such is the level of our vanity!
If our Pride is associated with those few things that work; then aren’t we setting ourselves up for failure at every point?
We didn’t care about women and rapes, because the system to handle that didn’t work. So, we didn’t care as long as my own sister, daughter, mother, or wife wasn’t raped. It was someone else’s so its all good. In fact the newspapers reported rapes NOT because it was a crime that they had to report; but because Rape news was vicariously titillating one and it was almost always accompanied with some half clad women in the next column.
The truth is that Rape was cheap entertainment. It wasn’t a crime to be ashamed of as a society.
The economic wonder is also a fragile thing. It is not a permanent or a long term thing. It is going to be very short term if we keep obsessing about every small thing that works without understanding the details behind that. The economic progress will be useful if the country’s resources like Water, Air, Soil etc are being enhanced. But if we are simply earning money by bringing the whole land and other resources down – as we surely are – then one wonders if this progress can last more than a little while.
Activists are also like the Government
Arundhati Roy is a fiction writer. That is her expertise. But she is everywhere. She can talk about Kashmir. About Nukes. About Dams. About Hinduism. About Society. Whatever is the flavor of the day, she can do Activism for that. If today Pasta had become an issue in India, tomorrow you could see a 4 page article on Pasta and its criminal intent in New Yorker tomorrow.
There is no focus. She needs limelight, Activism happens to be a cool way to do that.
Medha Patkar and other are very similar also. Although to a varying degree.
Now, Dams are an issue. Nukes are an issue. Kashmir is an issue. And simply because India blasted a Nuke does NOT mean that the Dam wasn’t an issue anymore! And just because Kashmir is an issue doesn’t mean that Nukes aren’t an issue. If Nukes is your passion, cute lady, then STICK TO IT DAMN IT!! If Kashmir is your passion, then go stay in Kashmir and GIVE YOUR LIFE FOR THAT CAUSE!
Activists of today work like Prostitutes. Everyday they have a new issue in their bed, as long as it ensures the constant money supply. And, they aren’t concerned about the issue in its entirety. For example, if someone’s heart beats for the Kashmir issue, one will go into the history of it dispassionately.. and try to see where the seeds of hatred and discord were sown. Why Pakistan is where it is and why India is where it is. Why did the Kashmiri Pandits go away… what happened to them and who did what. Why are the Muslims in Kashmir where they are.
But is SOLUTION the focus of these Activists or Outrage? Is Solution the “pot of gold” that they seem to be reaching out to at the end of the rainbow or there own livelihoods?
And, how are they different from the Government? Government also gives some God-Damned Slogan… and Arundhati Roy also gives slogans. The only difference is that her “slogans” are 4 pages long!!
Solutions and not Outrage
Outrage as a start is fine. But Outrage does nothing. It has never solved anything. It will never solve anything either. It makes us feel great – as to how we took the “high road” and looked great. What encomiums we gathered on the way. But nothing more.
The Road to Peace in the country are NOT about our egos. The issues are about some ill of the society which is perpetrated by the population that INCLUDES us. Yes. Everyone of us. So we have to come up with Solutions. Comprehensive solutions. Not what looks cool today. Not what will give me enough funding as an activist. But something that will help me do something worthwhile.
Activism and Governance have to have the same character. Because they have the same ideals. Running of the society properly. If the Government screws up, the Activists – the citizens – enter that fray to set it right. But in India, Government is not doing its work… and that we know. But what we don’t realize is that even the Activists aren’t doing their work!! They are merely busy churning up Outrage. Solution is not their aim. That requires talking to, engaging with and learning things and above all devoting lifetimes. Who has that time and commitment. And, the God-damned “Engaging” business doesn’t give you funding!! So, the prostitution of Activism goes on.
We have to remember that we are a nation and we will ALWAYS have multiple fronts and multiple issues on every front. No one issue, no one virtue can be defining for such a vast nation. If it is happening then it is so because we aren’t focused on the work that each one of us is supposed to so. If I, as a policeman.. or as a clerk am doing what I am supposed to do.. then at least that front will be taken care of. Similarly it works for others. But if everyone is focused on either eulogizing the “economic wonder” or running down the “Rape Culture” – then neither will we have the Economic Wonder nor a society free of Rape!