Its always an arduous task to essay a look back with consummate fairness and unemotional detachment at the year gone by and arrive at an analysed version, which appears as an exemplification of serious thought wedded with a positive stance. .despite the foreseen dangers of ugly repetition of situations that defy redemption.
However for some, the above comes with ease and skill. One such is Tarun Tejpal whose recent article in ‘Tehelka’ had me re-reading and in consonnance, wholeheartedly.
This is the lot of India, to be forever up for condemnation and applause. Great democracy; cruel democracy. Brilliant entrepreneurs; terrible philanthropists. Wonderfully tolerant; endlessly bigoted. Feisty, free media; co-opted, commercialised media. Humane; inhumane. Peace-loving; violent. Wise; ignorant. Sublime; grubby. Glorious superpower in the making; iniquitous society heading for collapse. .
It has never failed to fascinate me this facet of Indian life and which Tarun has brought out focussedly.
Given the differences of opinion, given the disparities and deprivations suffered by hundreds of millions of Indians, it may seem unwise to talk of hope. It can easily have the ring of new age psychobabble. Think positive and the universe will find a way to support you. To talk of hope can sound like the shrewd, self-validating line of the well-heeled, for whom hope has never ceased to deliver.
Now thats progressive and statesman like. Its always refreshing to have intellectuals who blabber the right quantum of words on an incident and then divert their minds and hearts to areas where ‘Hope’ plays a pre-dominant role in altering metaphors, so far been ‘hopelessly’ bludgeoned to death .
If the hand reaches for optimism, it is not because our problems have suddenly been solved, but because the public air — even the middle class air, notoriously insular — is suddenly thick with their articulation. Education, healthcare, the growing agrarian crisis, the rural-urban divide — forums, seminars, advocacy groups are forcing these issues into everyone’s consciousness. Even the banalities of Hindi cinema are making space for the exploration of contentious issues, and viewers are making a box-office success of films that demand selfless action from them. People’s muscle is even coming to bear on the conduct of courts. The cases of Jessica Lall and Priyadarshini Mattoo are a leap — of engagement and action by a hitherto apathetic urban citizenry. The recent convictions of ministers and mps and stars are a much-needed affirmation that we may yet be able to break through the two-laws theory.
Applauding the resurgency in areas of expanded democratic speech is plausible on its own merit. here is one journalist not threatened by the ” Power of the Keyboard” and in fact welcomes it. Bravo!
Of course much is still wrong. Inequity, poverty, injustice abound. You cannot look through the binocular at India with only one eye. If you do, you will see only success and prosperity, or just degradation and despair. You keep both eyes open, and the true complexity of the picture emerges. Much good, much bad, and hopefully headed in the right direction, prodded by a people slowly beginning to realise that they need to now watch out for more than just themselves.
A big ‘Yes’ to civic activism, and citizen participation, on a larger more determined scale. If anything, the leaps of the year gone by should not be marginalised. It has been an unprecedented year..from here on the graph can only rise!