Monday, March 27, 2006

Paint the Autumn Colors

The spirit of renaissance rises again from its own ashes. A spirit which started diminishing soon after 1947 and hollowed gradually over time. Until what remained is a vacuum, an aberration called nationalism, patriotism, desh-bhakti in its different avatars, filled only with traces (sometimes abundance) of self comforting conceit, and complacency, that we are a proud nation. What more than vacuum would u call the patriotism which makes its call only during a world cup final (cricket of course), or an Indo-Pak match.

Though I confess it is a hyperbole to associate all patriotism with cricket and only cricket, we aren’t very far from it. Yes, we do feel indignant as a nation when the general from across the border sends his troops camouflaged as jehadi’s, or when someone attacks the parliament, or when Steve Bucknor unconvincingly declares yet another time, Tendulkar out LBW. The depressing part is, its only limited to these few occasion, and that the indignation failing to transform into any constructive energy form, yet bound by joules law, gets transformed to indignation against our own people, against our own selves leading to whirlpools of self destructive antagonism which suck into them any constructive individuals or energy that might be left.

As I wonder about the inanity of my weird metaphor, u must be wondering the same about my opening line. Where do I see the spirit rising again? I am talking about “Rang De Basanti” (what else does the title of the post mean??) & not in isolation though. As I imply, the fact that our generation hasn’t seen any of the struggles that went into bringing about the magnificent reform to freedom and republic has always, and is constantly acting against us. From my childhood, I remember one very favorite exam topic for essay’s in my Hindi Essay books. Few of us who went through the Hindi curriculum in school might recollect. “Swatantrata Swachchhandata nahin hai”. It meant “Independence is not free will”. Elaborated it means, democracy has its rules, and constitution which needs to be followed. Every right comes with a duty and blah blah. This was pretty much the message of our constitution too. But somehow these messages have lost there noise below other messages which are repeatedly (un)heard in the pandemonium within that dome which forms the soul (only symbolically) of the Indian republic. Sad part is that it is most often the upholders of constitution involved in this mockery. Anyways, today we look only at rights, rights, rights, and cribbing about everything else including our only duty which is paying of some taxes which for better or for worse is an absolute necessity to sustain the government of the country and will forever be.

The movie brings out the struggle which we were deprived (yes!!) of, and unlike scores of other movies which have addressed the freedom struggle, it draws a parallel in the need of awakening the mindset of the people today, to the pre independence struggle. May not have been the main intention of the writer, but certainly a spark in his thoughts, that there is a need to awaken ourselves, and it’s high time. If not done today, tomorrow we are not going to remain as free as we are. Or as we think we are. I constantly feel a thought and felt at home when I found it echoed in the movie again and again that “in the name of democracy & secularism, we have come to form a culture of extreme tolerance”. Tolerance to new religions, communities, people, and thoughts is praiseworthy. But somehow this tolerance got stretched into tolerance to traffic violations, tolerance to corrupt officials, tolerance to shit on the roads, tolerance to animals driving the highways, and just about everything. In short we have become a “Sab Chalta hai” culture. And we are facing the wrath!! A hawaldaar raping an innocent justice seeker…chalta hai!! Pistol-Wielding, Scotch-Imbued sons of heavyweight politicians shooting bullets at innocent victims and walking free on the road…chalta hai!! I could go on and on. And even if refrain from mentioning such news making controversial issues, we can’t evade that in our own, rather unassuming lives, we also feel the repercussions of this attitude. Cable TV is gone just before India-Pak series…chalta hai. There is only a 10 meter stretch that has been serving the traffic of a million people daily to Whitefield and back since 3 years now….Chalta hai..!! The bloody $@#$ing autowallahs (sorry this is really a very heartfelt grudge) asking for 50 bucks for a 10 bucks ride.. chalta hai. Oh come on..!!

How long will we keep tolerating, giving into each such nuisance? And how long will we be silent? Not that we need to stand up and shoot the politicians. Cos that is not going to solve things!! The problem is rooted into each and every one of us, and we have to remove it there. We have to learn to become intolerant to everything that is wrong, unlawful, or just simply doesn’t make sense. By this I imply above all, that we ourselves have to ensure we do not become practitioners of one of these intolerable habits. I AM not supposed to jump the signal, I AM not supposed to litter the road. I AM supposed to give way on a free left turn. At the same time, I AM also supposed to lash out against everybody who does wrong to me, take to task the rickshaw walla, and stop giving them just about any kind money they ask for (try the good ole buses at times, they are really efficient). And take to task the law breakers. I understand that for the latter it’s difficult to reform some entities, even if you have an arsenal of arguments, abuses etc. lined up besides you. You have to become instrumental and influential enough to make you heard.

One very important role we thus need to assume is of responsible politicians, responsible leaders. There was a time when I was convinced by the standard arguments that the colossal expanse of the country cannot be fixed by one government in one term but needs years and years. But as I grow, I feel it’s a myth, or rather an excuse. Once Broken up into constituencies, districts, panchayats, etc. we have leaders at each level who are responsible not for the whole nation, but there own territories, for which they should have a single point of agenda for there full terms (5 full years generally). And that should be of course to bring prosperity to there people, fix everything that’s broken. But the only thing that is being fixed 24*7 is the government, and its precarious balance. Few from us (or more) have to rise to take these roles, and in the process give up some temporary material pleasures. Otherwise ….”chalta hai”.

As disappointed as I was with the director of “Rang De Basanti” for killing everybody in the end, I later argued with myself about the directors’ thoughtfulness in giving it the end that was. While his real intention of drawing parallels with freedom struggle did necessitate, that the heroes kill someone, he did his best perhaps to ensure, that he did not send out a wrong message. He did it I guess almost at the cost of the movies fate. Because nobody I met thought the end should have been that way. Just that the rest of the movie was so wonderful. But what he ensured was to deter any fools who might be misleaded into thinking that the only road to atonement from the present is to kill a corrupt politician. He made sure that the message went out clear, and wide, that constitutional killers would deserve only one fate and that is merciless death. This is my guess of his reasoning, and if true, I regard him highly for his thoughtfulness.

How do i conclude it? There is none. All i can think of is, that as i write and as u read, we are all busy painting our own corner of the world blindly with colors of autumn, but we forget to notice, that the canvas is pitch black, and however hard we try, the shades of black will always cast there shadows. Its time we change the canvas first, and then think about the colors.

And to end in the tritest (is that a word?? not in oxford maybe) manner possible, I quote one from the father of this crumbling nation – You must be the change you wish to see in the world

1 comment:

Bagchi said...

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world"
Excellent comment. We should start changing ourselves first realising the gravity of the situation & not wait for a messiah to pull ourselves out of the grave.