Thursday, June 23, 2011

the world out there

This is what an overdose of P.Sainath can do to you; it can have you questioning your right to everything you eat, wear and drive around in. Two days, Noam Chomsky and P.Sainath, I wouldn't say I'm completely transformed, I've been hearing this all the time, but if I don't acknowledge them even now, when will I. And my acknowledging this will not change anything. The more important part is to act in anyway I can. 80% of the population of this country goes to bed every night hungry. I don't give a shit about it. I'm far too busy watching the Indian Cricket Team, the Tamasha on 24x7 news channels or counting the number of lip locks in Emraan Hashmi's new film. I'm not angry, I'm just supremely disgusted with myself that despite knowing all that I know, even now, I don't really seem to care. Being not able to do anything about farmer suicides or hungry children or sexual abuse or anything of that sort is hurting me; Paradoxically it is my callousness, my ignorance, my inability to feel offended by all this is what is hurting me. Not just me, a lot of people like me do not understand hunger, or poverty, or injustice, or marginalization, or illiteracy, or the hardship of living because We've never been in those places, ever. It's not that we're not in contact with that. We are. Every morning I walk out of my house, I see a street kid not going to school, I see a poor Brahmin begging for money, I see women carrying children begging at traffic signals, and occasionally, when I don't change channels at the sight of them, I see reports of farmer suicides or rape victims. But it's just that that cannot afford space in my mind. I'm far too busy planning the next party, or bribing the Police constable, or buying a shampoo or ptch-ing at the state of this country.

I was once somebody who thought I didn't have to do anything to anybody because I wasn't doing them any harm and sad that they were unlucky but they had to get on with it. But since, I've realised something very important, very fundamental to the structure of human existence, human civilization. That like any other society of animals, we can survive only when we acknowledge our mutual interests and work towards them. But the problem with our World getting smaller and closer is that we are creating a bubble where entry is restricted and all of you who cannot scramble into that bubble, sorry guys, it's just for us elite. Nobody gives a fuck about how many people die everyday or the kind of lives they live. Everybody is busy being happy, turning our heads away from the filthy sight that presents at us at every juncture. The media's done it's job, its told us people are dying, its given us the reason, its blamed the FAO, the ITO and other big players who sit in Geneva or Paris and decide what farmers should do; all that is correct, Well done. Now what? The policies are realigned in accordance with the interests of the poor, that's been done too. Brilliant. The ideas, the policies, the solutions, the intellectual brainstorming, good. But the biggest question is, will it be applied, and how long will it take for all those policies to come into action with the kind of bureaucracy we have and by the time we get that done, there's going to be a new government, a new set of policies because inevitably a government which has given the foremost importance to the ideas of equality and basic amenities is not going to last long enough.

The problem as I see it is that the middle class doesn't care because they are too busy paying taxes and fees, buying groceries and sweating out every month to pay the loans. The poor are uninformed and have no idea as to what they should be doing because they are illiterate and listen to their local heads. Now, it is upto the rich to do as to their liking. Now that word, Rich, is a very relative one. When you start at the bottom of the rung, the richest man in the village wants what best suits his business needs, so he has somebody elected as a Sarpanch who would do things for him. At the next level, a few businessmen in a district want to fare well over others, so they elect an MLA who is their man. And so on and so forth until the whole Government is elected that way. Capitalism feeds capitalism. We all know this but we don't care. Because let the Big people be the Big people, not interfere with their decisions and policies and hope they wouldn't snatch away your car and your house. Or like Noam Chomsky put in, we are busy being consumers where our whole idea of existence revolves around the superficial ideas of commodities, trading them, watching their advertisements, stacking them up and showing them off. I'm not saying we are bad people, we acknowledge those who fight for the downtrodden, Binayak Sen, Satinath Sarangi, Arundhati Roy, Medha Patkar, P.Sainath etc. We honour them with awards and convocation speeches. But we don't want to be them. We're happy being the anonymous supporters, we don't want to be dragged into the fight. And this is what the majority is like. Almost all of us. This is the pathetic kind of a world we live in; where we don't have the balls to do what is right and tell people to do what is. You don't carry your driving license with you because you can buy the Police with a hundred bucks. You buy tickets in the black because you are far too busy to be waiting in lines. You drive away little beggars from your car windows because you don't want to give them money and have them live beggars forever but have you ever spared a moment and asked why is this kid begging.

It is impossible to live in this world and stay atomic. And we can see the consequences now. Every morning you wake up, the milk for your coffee travels half the country before it reaches you, employing thousands of people. The newspaper you read brings with it articles and advertisements, giving food to millions of them who spend half their lives trying for the best way to sell goods people don't want. Capitalism is not a bad thing, its given millions of people jobs, food and a better lifestyle. But at what cost. What does it feel like when you're driving your brand new McLaren next to a slum or when you don't want a power cut in your city because you can't be deprived of your facebook hours, but don't care even if villages are consumed in darkness. Now, Capitalism is a tricky thing. I once read that Capitalism makes people unequally rich but Socialism makes everybody equally poor. But in this country, the chasm between Rich and Poor is so huge that 2% of the country's richest pay more taxes than the rest 98%. What happened to the 3% Hindu growth rate that Manmohan Singh so wanted to change it all on one March 31? And why is it that despite knowing all the stats, despite all these NGOs working towards the cause, despite the relentless working hours of Journalists and Social Activists, don't we do something about it?

I had abandoned this piece earlier in the afternoon here and here I'm back but the rhythm's gone. I'll get straight down to the point here. The changes, that all of us want to see will happen only when there's an inherent change in the way people see this world. This is not the work of policies or rules but of ethics, morals and a clean conscience. It is about understanding, of staying open to people, and if all of us someday realise how important it is for us to live together beyond all differences, we might someday be eligible to be called humanity.

Nero's Guests, which inspired me into this frenzy.


Bhargavi said...

You know what you MUST DO Adits....Read Rashmi Bansals- I have a will give u the power to do something about it....talking about issues or fighting for issues wont take u far....when you fight, all u do is spare a couple of hours to show people u care by means of campaings, slogans etc....what you can do to make some difference to this part of the society is to MAKE URSELF USEFUL BY GIVING THESE DOWNTRODDEN PEOPLE AN OPPORTUNITY TO EARN THEIR DINNER...

Give a man a few fishes, he will eat it and be hungry again....but teach a man to fish...he will never be hungry....

Anusha Mannava said...

P.Sainath comes up with these pieces ever so often that put us in a position of great discomfort and introspection. He does not give denial a chance.

What we choose to practice is compartmentalization. We will pity, give alms, pay taxes but also flaunt, indulge and consume unabashedly. Maybe change starts with acknowledging the problem.

You captured the sentiment.