Another day, another blog post – brought on of course by me severely kicking my own arse to motivate it. I looked at the calendar over a month ago and started writing out something that has evolved into this post. It started out as an afterthought, turned into an angry rant, tried to be a call to arms for the youth of India and eventually has become what you see before you now.
It also made me want to read V For Vendetta all over again.
It was in a way the starting point of all this, but mostly it’s amazing how much resonance that story carries – more so in India for me right now than one would imagine.
Take this talk featuring the late, inimitable Christopher Hitchens and Shashi Tharoor on the ‘Freedoms Of Speech’ as an example – you don’t HAVE to watch it if not inclined. Neither party is against free speech and both are proponents of being verbal and questioning, but there are differences nonetheless and it is these differences that are a big crux of this whole post of mine. (contd. below the clip)
See the way I see free-speech and all is that there are the obvious types – free vs. controlled. But as anyone who truly lives in the reality we all call home, we realise that as with most everything in life, there are varying shades of grey (and no this is not a clever allusion to that sad excuse for a novel!).
In India particularly (since that is what this is about here) we have severe issues talking about things.
On the one hand we are the land of spiritual enlightenment for so many who dream of coming here to “eat, pray and love” (shudder…) and all that jazz, we are an ancient people with a rich history and culture that has been a big part of the old world and promises to be a big part of the new one coming.
On the other hand, we are a maelstrom of hypocrisy, archaic thought, misogyny and disturbing mixes of fundamentalist level mentalities that refuse to evolve beyond a dated set of ideas and in fact devolves even those lofty ideals into mangled, dark parody’s.
Remember, remember The fifth of November, The gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason Why the gunpowder treason, Should ever be forgot…
I started this post talking about the idea in Alan Moore’s now legendary tale of a single individual taking on the system without hesitation simply because he believed it was needed. But then it started to include my view on how I agreed with him – not unconditionally, but because his was a belief borne or reason and observing the world around him. Some who are familiar with the story will remember this dialogue of the protagonist – V- where he says (and I quote), “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” It is a strong statement, but tell me I’m wrong.
The world over, we are all in upheaval. America and Europe are at a severe crisis point and economically staggering more than anyone realises or is willing to admit. While people have debated the end of the world for the longest time and we all awaited it in different ways a mere week past, I have for a while now held a slightly differing view : the world did end, but not all of it, simply the world as we knew it. Things have been building and crumbling and in flux far more than would appear normal by any stretch in these past few years, reaching a stage some refer to as a “tipping point” from where no one can know for certain which way we shall fall. Whatever we were, there are questions being raised and barriers being shaken all over the world for things we would never have expected not long ago.
No nation is perfect, all have glaring flaws. But I live here. So I don’t really give a flying fuck what is wrong with anyone else.
For those that don’t know me, I’ve always been a mostly agnostic person by nature and in recent years have become more and more clearly an atheist. The reason I bring this up is so you can see where I’m coming from on certain things and because my change from a spiritually inclined person of indeterminate faith to one driven purely by intellect and reason vehemently opposed to organised religion can be blamed pretty squarely on how my fellow Indians conduct themselves and what results.
Be clear. Even as an atheist, I really don’t care if anyone is religious – my problem is with religion itself. To me even at me most religious in my younger days, religion was quite simply the stories we told, the lessons we imparted and the ideal one can strive to regardless of whether it is acheivable. Today however, this no longer holds true. Religion, the thing that should bring people together, that should provide hope in hopeless moments, that should give us peace of mind and help us be better human beings has sadly devolved into nothing but yet another means to the end of those who control it and the ratio of gentle believers to rabid sycophants who would never even dream of questioning a message passed down from on high is skewing dangerously.
Don’t worry, I’m not ranting about religion here – that was just to make another part of the point to which we (FINALLY!) arrive now.
India is a broken place.
Our so-called rich culture and heritage have failed us.
Our vacuousness is showing.
The socialist, democratic republic that we earned with blood and through a rational and peaceful fight for independence is unquestionably lost.
Our proclaimed love and respect for the “mother” has been shown to be naught but a pretentious sham we practice in our homes but fails outside.
Our history as an intelligent, progressive nation that contributed so much to history. Today we tout it gleefully while stomping it’s actual spirit and relevance in the testicles.
The world at large IS an obviously and unabashedly patriarchal place. Some more, some less, but a predominantly patriarchal planet nonetheless. Yet we in India are holding it as some kind of free-pass to explain why so many of our men are such utter schmucks and flaming crap-bags. Is it an excuse for our shameless youth? Hell no.
We take habits and ideas from the west and far too often and easily adopt some of the worst.
We coast. We don’t push for anything and we always operate on a “13th hour” principle. Always. We all know it and acknowledge it and deep inside know that until there is a gun to the head(metaphorical… mostly…) , few things ever get done. The word is “juggaad” and all hindi-speaking Indians know what I mean.
Money and power has become our common religion in some ways far more than even the developed west.
Our power elite are in some ways even more disconnected from the average person and background of most of the country then even some royals and such in other nations. And what makes it worse is that they know it. They feed it. They often are less than one generation removed from such backgrounds but choose to forget.
Money talks and bullshit walks. Period.
But I’ve ranted and meandered too long. You get the point. I leave you now with this speech. Tell me it doesn’t ring familiar.
Good evening India. I thought it time we had a little talk. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
I suppose you’re wondering why I’ve called you here this evening. Well you see, I’m not entirely satisfied with your performance lately…. I’m afraid your work’s been slipping, and…and well, I’m afraid we’ve been thinking about letting you go.
Oh, I know, I know. You’ve been with the company a long time now. Almost…Let me see. Almost ten thousand years! My word, doesn’t time fly? It seems like only yesterday… I remember the day you commenced your employment, swinging down from the trees, fresh-faced and nervous, A bone clasped in your bristling fist… “Where do I start, sir?” You asked, plaintively.
I recall my exact words: “There’s a pile of dinosaur eggs over there, youngster,” I said smiling paternally the while. “Get sucking.” Well, we’ve certainly come a long way since then, haven’t we? And yes, yes, you’re right, in all that time you haven’t missed a day. Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Also please don’t think I’ve forgotten about your out-standing service record, or about all of the invaluable contributions that you’ve made to the company… Fire, the wheel of agriculture…It’s an impressive list, old-timer. A jolly impressive list. Don’t get me wrong.
But…well, to be frank, we’ve had our problems, too. There’s no getting away from it. Do you know what I think a lot of it stems from? I’ll tell you… It’s your basic unwillingness to get on within the company. You don’t seem to want to face up to any real responsibility, or to be your own boss. Lord knows, you’ve been given plenty of opportunities…We’ve offered you promotion time and time again, and each time you’ve turned us down: “I couldn’t handle the work, Guv’nor,” you wheedled. “I know my place”
To be frank, you’re not trying, are you? You see, you’ve been standing still for far too long, and it’s starting to show in your work… And I might add, in your general standard behaviour. The constant bickering on the factory floor has not escaped my attention…Nor the recent bouts of rowdiness in the staff canteen. Then of course there’s… Hmmmm. Well, I didn’t really want to have to bring this up, but…Well, you see I’ve been hearing some disturbing rumours about your personal life.
No, never you mind who told me. No names, no pack drill… I understand that you are unable to get on with your spouse. I hear that you argue. I am told that you shout. Violence has been mentioned. I am reliably informed that you always hurt the one you love…The one you shouldn’t hurt at all.
And what about the children? It’s always the children who suffer, as you’re well aware. Poor little mites. What are they to make of it? What are they to make of your bullying, your despair, your cowardice and all your fondly nurtured bigotries? Really, it’s not good enough, is it?
And it’s no good blaming the drop in work standards upon bad management, either…
Though, to be sure, the management is very bad. In fact, let us not mince words … the management is terrible! We’ve had a string of embezzlers, frauds, liars and lunatics making a string of catastrophic decisions. This is plain fact.
But who elected them? It was you! You who appointed these people! You who gave them the power to make your decisions for you! While I’ll admit that anyone can make a mistake once, to go on making the same lethal errors century after century seems to me nothing short of deliberate.
You have encouraged these malicious incompetents, who have made your working life a shambles. You have accepted without question their senseless orders. You have allowed them to fill your workspace with dangerous and unproven machines.
All you had to say was “NO.” You have no spine. You have no pride. You are no longer an asset to the company. I will however, be generous. You will be granted two years to show me some improvement in your work. If at the end of that time you are still unwilling to make a go of it… You’re fired.
That will be all. You may return to your labors.