Friday, April 10, 2009

Down with revolution


It was late in 2006 when I finally got a chance to see "Rang De Basanti" the movie which 'awakened a generation'. I was being universally scorned by the members of this awakened generation (my generation) for not watching it yet and it was the fear of being a social outcast that prompted me to catch the movie on TV. But as it turns out, I am likely to be one anyway because I found myself in major disagreement with the movie!

Violent revolution is so passé. Look at Cuba, look at the USSR, look at modern day Africa and learn! A revolution is exactly what the word means literally means, it means that we'd be back at the same point where we had started from. One power-crazed despot is to be replaced by another power-crazed despot or a group of power-crazed despots. Power will change hands from the oppressor to the oppressed for a brief while promoting utopian visions of peace and equality, before the masks come off and the former revolutionaries become a carbon copy of what they had been fighting against. Lining up all the corrupt politicians and shooting them dead is a surefire way to disaster and hellish anarchy, considering also the possibility that we might not have a single politician left! There is no alternative to democracy and civilized society, any other violent means of  retribution not only immature but woefully insane.

"Uneducated fools are voting criminal minds into power", we say as most of us don't even move our lazy a**es to cast a vote. Well, it is this mass of 'uneducated fools' that keep us a living, breathing democracy. For it is to them that the flimsy promises of the party manifesto matter. Whether that metalled road will finally make it to their village, will they have a school ('Government schools! Huh!' say we Mr. Snooties) so their children don't have to walk 10 kilometres each way and will the village hospital finally get it's allocated funds : all questions that haunt their minds when they pack into the grounds by the thousands listening to the likes of Narendra Modi and Raj Thackeray. For them, each promise is a golden fruit whose very glimpse is a minor feast for their half-fed stomachs. And they are no fools! They are the ones who kicked Indira Gandhi in the behind with aplomb when the horrors of the Emergency were over and who slapped BJP hard on the face after they were so confident of winning the 2002 elections with their high-on-Hindutva and low-on-achievements agenda. Not to say that they cannot be swayed by rhetoric but they are a much smarter bunch than we the average 'educated' class would care to acknowledge. They are an equal player in the wonder that is India as much we the self-proclaimed elite of the nation are.

True, our Westernized (Yes, at least I am definitely a lil' guilty of that, Shri Ram Sena!) perception of what is cool clouds our perspective. We see images of crowded buses and trains filled with sweaty villagers on TV (while sipping cold coffee in our neighbourhood CCDs and discussing the latest episode of "The Family Guy" or "Lost" yours truly being amongst the frequent offenders) and a deep sigh "When will India develop?" The truth is India has been developing: right up from every little village to the biggest city step by step proceeding with sometimes unnecessary caution under the tremendous effort of unsung conscious citizens, sarpanches, councillors, DMs and Mayors. 

It is my sincere belief that every bureaucrat, businessman, policeman and politician were irredeemably corrupt, this nation would have long gone to the dogs. Someone somewhere is always fighting an exceedingly lonely battle for what is right and often dying a terrifying middle page death like Satyendra Dubey and  S. Manjunath (Don't know who they are but know the names of the next 3 Aamir Khan social issue raising movies? Somehow I am not really surprised :\) It is so easy to kill a man or to incite another person to violence also drawing attention to yourself by your "Watch me! I am the hero" antics but to hold on your convictions in the middle of temptations or threats seems not so news-worthy at all.

Politicians like Laloo are being hero-worshipped for their "He allegedly stole money but look at the magic he has done on the Indian Railways!" Wow! What about all that embezzled money which is siphoned off potentially life changing projects for development, education and empowerment? No one really cares for the criminals and cancerous corruption that it brews as long as it can be laughed off with a completely out of context earthy joke. On the other end of the nauseous spectrum is the Moditva brand which goes "Communal yes but look how efficient we are!". It's like choosing between an AK-47 or an Uzi to be shot with. Not much of a choice, is it?

But then who are we to complain about this lack of choice. I can name numerous friends of who have memorized dialogues from RDB by heart but don't blink for a second before submitting false 'book bills' to their employer's accounts department for reimbursement. Doctored receipts for income tax savings? Subb chalta hai (Everything goes). Somehow 'their' (the politicians') corruption is different from 'our' corruption. They are stealing from poor people you see and we are from a faceless company or government. A worser case of having their head in cloud cuckoo land I am yet to see. Everytime a bribe is given to a government official, there is a smile of accomplishment at 'apna kaam toh ho gayaa naa'(My job got done) instead of the guilt or outrage that should accompany every one of these transactions. And then there is the infuriating hand wringing lot going "What could we do? There was no other way!". Phftt! Have you even tried the honest way, you ask? "No. But it was my brother's best friend's fourth removed cousin who tried to do it the legal way and this was what he got. [Smirk...smirk]" Now if that story were true, you'd definitely not be laughing!

Yet "Apni toh pathshaala... Masti ki paathshaala... BE A REBEL!" plays loud at every party as the beer pours down like the height of monsoon. Don't make me laugh or rather puke in disgust by claiming to be a rebel (which you aren't any which way). It is time to evolve and realize that is our double standards that are doing us in. Revolution is so disorienting and purpose-defeating. Evolution is the way to go, truth and peace being our flags (Bear in mind, FLAGs not swords or trishuls). Enjoy the party like I do but let the thoughts of a conventional revolution end at the final bottle of beer. There is no greater test for a hero than to stand his ground and change the world that he inhabits instead of trying to destroy the old system to be replaced by a theoretically 'perfect' but eventually dysfunctional system. 

There is hope yet as there always will be. It takes infinitely more courage to accept your own flaws than to preach about others'. In the inimitable words of the little man  from Porbandar "You must be the change you want to see in the world."
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3 comments:

R I T I said...

Hmmm ... the post was nice but it was a movie! meant for entertainment. That it was,I'm sure you will agree. Masti ki paathshala was one of my favorite songs in that movie. Depends on what kind of lessons we take from it- revolution or protest or acting well in a play or being better at India's history than a firang. Those guys were 'the change' they wanted to see. Its upto us what we want to change ... the movie had a point, thats what was good.

prateek said...

Somehow for the first time in my life I am coming across people who are incredibly conscious of the power of the vote. The first phase of elections begin tomorrow and AP is going to vote. The entire office was abuzz with the V word and right from the 50 year old peon to the GM, everyone is kind of excited. They have talked, argued, discussed, brainstormed and done everything to get that one decision right. Probably, tomorrow they are going to put all those considerations of caste, class, money etc at bay and vote for their hope.

There was a scene in RDB, when Madhavan, confronted by Siddharth and Kunal Kapoor - they ask him who is going to change India and why should they stay back - replies," hum karenge..police me jayenge, politics me jayenge, IAS banenge..par desh ko zaroor badlenge". I think that justifies the movie. The lager debate is of course regarding the ends and the means to reach the ends.

Roy said...

My point exactly, "The means is as important as the end." and that being a rebel is not simply by abolishing and murdering all authority. Rather it's about becoming conscious of the power of the individual and handle that infinite power with appropriate responsibility.