Badri Raina

Are you into a wobbly dotage like me? Do your eyes slip off the page however you try to hold fast to a word? Does your spine not bear up beyond a brief, bold foray? Does your thought fly from you like a bird, not knowing where it may perch or disappear? Does the world seem unworthy, after all, of sustained consideration? Do you wish for the deep recess of a hollow where times now may never afflict your drum? In sum, do you feel it is time to go gentle into that good night?

If that be so, then know that now is not the time.

A seductive menace slouches towards the seat of high office, aiming not just to occupy the same but to take its stuffing out and refill its ravages with the smouldering remnants of ancient hate and slaughter. What pioneering hands and hearts weaved into a constitution of equal parts stands to be sundered into pure and polluted, legitimate and illegitimate, marauding and the marauded, triumphalist killers and their hapless victims.

Having assassinated the old man with the stick, what he left to us as legacy now threatens to be assassinated.

Thus, do not yet be in a hurry to go gentle into that good night. Where the “youth”—are you sick with hearing the metaphor?—are, we are told, of one thoughtless mind, can we abdicate our human essence? Remembering also that India’s “youth” do not reside only among its new-fangled malls, multiplexes, and automobiles, but in their vast millions upon the laboring street and toiling field, and in the dark recesses of her slums and forgotten hinterlands, none of whom have a stake in what is afoot with thunder and lightning.

Can you be told the following minute to minute, all minutes roundly paid for by the Ambanis and the Adanis, and great Indians of that ilk, and still wish to turn in:—

–that secularism means “india first,” knowing that “india first” means Ambani, Adani, Tata and sundry corporate sharks and financiers, builder mafias, land grabber and mine snatchers, gold digger and onion hoarder, men and women of great aplomb, worth and education who turn the dispossessed away in the teeth of law and justice from school, hospital, workplace, neighbourhood,or the temple of this god or that goddess? That “india first” means decrying food security, living with malnutrition, female foeticide, rampant anaemia among bharti naris, declining wages, soaring profits, calumnising right to work, right to sanitation, right to non-partisan policing and fair-minded application of laws?

That secularism means anything but what it ought to mean, namely, not “india first” but oppressed Indians of all religious denominations first without regard to what this official, that policeman, this here politician or judge, that sadhu or maulvi, this book or that scripture may hold as a commitment to whatever inherited systems of belief there be.

–that “development” means the gifting in the jiffy of a one-window-regime of land, building, bank deposits to the fat cat waiting to get fatter, reserving the rule book only for the deprived and the dissenting, or the religiously discordant? In short, making of the state and government a doormat that the obliging corporate may rub his expensive feet on in the larger “national interest” anytime and any which way he thinks fit?

–that “good governance” means never to interfere with the business of the business tycoon, except to call in the police and sundry state-apparatus when “anti-national” workers, or other nay-sayers take it upon themselves to protest the perfidies of the owning and governing conglomerates?

–that nationalism means “Hindu nationalism,” leaving the “Muslim” or “Christian” or “Sikh” or “Buddhist” nationalist to chew on their so suspect secondary status as “Indians”?

–that the slouching menace may make a politic and unfelt reference to the Constitution of India as the only  scripture (“that you can smile and smile and be a villain” wrote the Bard in Hamlet), but also in the same breath float an overture to this caste or that religious identity if any of that helps win the throne? Keeping his stridently garrulous lips sealed on one side of a communal riot in one place while going insidiously hammer and tongs in another?

–that “justice to all and appeasement to none” for a long decade in Gujarat has meant pandering to the remorseless majoritarian “sentiment” while relegating the brutalized victims of pogrom to a ghettoized non-existence in hell holes like Juhapura where little children are born not into the world but into an exiled and hate-filled oblivion; that when politic, as now in a hotting campaign for 2014, the “justice for all and appeasement of none” subterfuge places no bar on injunctions to particular communities to come attired in identifiable outfits to public rallies, so that the world may know, and on using state funds to purchase and hand out the recommended outfits, if not to their genuine users, then to others masquerading as them?

–that great campaigning comprises doing smirky, sniggering, patently less-than-truthful and cunning dirt on opponents in loudly dramatized performances,  without once letting the voter know how you may mean to do anything differently, including dealing with troublesome questions at home or neighbours across the borders?

That henceforth, the art of bragging with crude declamation may be meant to represent the leadership that India needs desperately? Example: making developmental claims for Gujarat which have in the last some months been coming apart as misrepresentations one after another, the complicity of India’s corporate channels notwithstanding.

–that the finest democratic political culture comprises cannabalising one’s own political party, reducing all rivals to redundant pigmies, howsoever sulking, and then building a cult with the shamelessly overt endorsement and aid of an exta-constitutional cabal whose leaders have no democratic legitimacy, not being a registered political formation and never having participated in electoral politics directly; a cabal who would facilitate a further division of India if they could inorder to secure a thoroughly incontestable theocracy?

And much much more that may not be listed for want of space.

Can you see all this and and sleep well?

If not, then there is work to do.

And the best of that work must be to do the noble and democratic thing to reach fact and reason to whoever will listen.

Quell the menace this once and we may all sleep with good conscience for many years to come.

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