Disclaimer: The following is simply a statement of news and facts as best as I have seen them and not to be taken as an absolute gospel of the way things are – I cannot and do not know everything, just make observations on what I do know and try my best to stay informed before expressing anything. Take it as you will but thanks in advance to everyone who takes it in the spirit of discussion in which it is intended.
I’ve avoided staying out of debates about Indian politics for the most part, because these days more than ever before, the discussion is veering away from civil and rational to utterly rhetorical and painfully pointless.
A huge part of that has to do with the ascension of our current P.M, Mr. Narendra Modi.
Personally, I actually didn’t have the kind of outright angst about him winning as many – I even held out some hope that the man might actually do the intelligent thing and use the opportunity to actually help India improve and to make things better. Of course the slightly cynical side of me assumed this would be with the intent of building up his reputation and burgeoning cult-of-personality in greater numbers and to pull the fence-sitters over to his side – this would have been a brilliant tactic because if he had focussed purely on hard-work, anti-corruption and developmental work for his initial couple of years, there would have been no chance of stopping him having a return term of P.M and that in turn would be THE perfect opportunity to then shift focus to the agenda’s of promoting “Indian values”/Hindutva/whatever you want to call it (I don’t care) that is undeniably the cornerstone desire of the people behind Mr. Modi, his fellow party members and political benificiaries.
But time and again I’m sad to find that though he started off motivating and energised and actually seemed to be living up to being the guy who would rein in the hard-right-wingers amongst his people and actually try and do good for the country – this was a painfully brief period and before we knew it, we were all once again shaking our heads at the failings of the leadership we have in India.
Someone recently pointed out that while our illustrious leader has been travelling the world at speeds that would make Phineas Fogg quiver and doing it seemingly non-stop (some might say, too much..), it feels like he is trying to convince the world to come play in the Indian playground, only to have them all drop in and find that this playground is not even complete or functional or in fact, safe to play.
What however made me want to write this post however, was not the larger problems, there are enough people dissecting that on all sides and shouting about it on TV.
I actually find myself more concerned and more dumb-founded time and again by the smaller issues, the announcements and statements that come out, like this recent article that essentially reported:
Organising a festival at which people can thread needles by the light of the full moon will help combat global warming, says the prime minister.
While this is just a gist, broadly he talks about how India has always been recycling and always been an Earth-friendly country and it’s because of the “foreign devils” (of course) that we lost our way and were so terribly embarrassed by our love for mother Earth that we actually stopped and suddenly became this nation of trash-spewing and messy people with no regard or interest in ecological welfare. Because all those foreign countries are covered in litter and have no regard for their environment.
Yes, I’m aware many MNC’s and such trash the environment in other nations, but that is Capitalist greed. They wouldn’t dare do it in their home nations and if they did, they would be CIA and Mossad level slick (or try to be…) about it because if it got out, they would have several shit-storms to deal with.
BUT let me ask you this: If we became careless litter-bugs because we were embarrassed by foreign folk judging us, why does most every Indian who travels abroad suddenly become a neat and non-littering person when they are in an England or the US? Shouldn’t we be able to freely trash the place, because clearly they think that’s ok since we are ashamed to not do it at home. Which is why I find it equally funny that we come back from these foreign junkets where everything goes in the trash-bin, but here goes straight out the window or on the ground.
In the article I linked above: “I know all the English-speaking people will make fun of this for the next 24 hours but that’s because they think the wrong way,” he declared in a pre-emptive salvo at this critics.
…actually it has nothing to do with the english-speaking people thinking the wrong way – and the fact that you club all English-speaking and by implication a huge bulk of the more educated Indians into one group, you are doing nothing but adding yet ANOTHER layer of discrimination, dissent and division to a nation already overwhelmed with divisions. You are trying to pander to the villagers and the people from smaller towns and lower economic strata and make them think the “English-speakers” don’t understand them and inevitably will lead them to resent those of us who fall in that category.
This is offensive and honestly reprehensible behavior for a world leader, for the leader of the biggest democracy and one of the most varied and vibrant nations on Earth. He should be bringing the people of his country together and helping us work as a united nation toward a better tomorrow – instead we seem to be going the other way.
As example of the kind of things that leave me dumbfounded are speeches proclaiming that we had plastic surgery and anti-gravity in ancient India and somehow the truth is in the veda’s we have now, which sounds more like the premise for a comic or scifi story I would write and if it was indeed proof in the veda’s, why in the name of all the Gods do we not just pull all that knowledge out and use it to solve the worlds current problems? There’s also a recent report of a desire to rename Delhi to “The Imperial City of Delhi” – because Delhi is so dying to become an empire again, being part of one has worked so well in the past.
Then of course there are affiliate activities like this report in Indian Express just yesterday:
Rajasthan schoolgoers are set to learn more about “local and national” heroes, while lengthy chapters on “foreign rulers and personalities” like Akbar the Great, Pythagoras and Issac Newton would be nudged out, thanks to primary and secondary education minister Vasudev Devnani.
“Why should our children only learn about Akbar, the Great? Why not Maharana Pratap, the Great?,” he asked. “Our children are constantly learning about foreign rulers, mathematicians, scientists et al,” he added.
Firstly, yes we should learn about local/indigenous people – which I distinctly remember doing and in fact I remember that until Class 9 or 10, I used to be frustrated by how the vast majority of what we learnt was in fact some part of Indian history or another with so little focus on “foreign” history that I learnt more through library books than I did in classes on this matter, and this was before the internet so I had to look to find a lot of it or ask people.
Secondly, if you go the way these people are going with regards to education and make it even MORE inward looking, then we are headed on our way to taking on one of the worst traits of the modern American: being utterly ignorant about the world. Today the guy from the lowest to the highest economic level in India knows or has some idea about other countries, has a degree of curiosity and by virtue of some minor knowledge is able to glean more over time if the interest is there. With this over-Indianisation of education, you cross over the line after which you are going to create people with so little working knowledge of the world beyond the Indian borders – this gives you a who are ignorant of so very much and who will lose out on the greatest gift that reading more and more history gives humanity: learning from the past. But I suppose when one is looking to rewrite the past, this is irrelevant as you will teach the lessons you want to thereafter.
Huh… What do you know, this just made me think of that line from Orwells legendary book that I read because I was not discouraged from exploring ideas and made to read only “Indian” books and history:
He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.
Kind of makes you wonder doesn’t it.
In closing, all of the things I expressed concern about, feel like they are going to continue regardless and the proponents of him as a leader will continue to either exist in their unique self-delusion or due to ego, refuse to back down and admit they may have been wrong. Both of these being fairly common the world over sadly. All the while they continue to try and rewrite history with some of the strangest versions of events and more than any sane persons share of outright fabrications that anyone with internet access and even passing interest would be able to assess for the works of strange fiction that they are in fact.
For my part, I intend to continue to look at him as our very own home-grown version of George W. Bush who was a source of much amusement – a not-all-that-effective leader, driven by hidden agenda’s and controllers behind his throne and the source of periodical speeches, statements and events such as the one in the article. Where we will end up, who can say? In the meantime, (to partially quote the late, great Jim Morisson) I’ll take my chuckles where I can get them, before this whole shit-house goes up in flames.