Monday, July 8, 2013

History in The Year 2094

Wonder how they will talk about us when the pages of history will be turned back.

Time:   Year 2094
Place:  A classroom

History teacher: Children, in the last lecture I told you about our freedom struggle. Now we will skip what happened after Indira Gandh’s death and talk about what happened after the year 2057. Our nation saw a great revolution. The youth came out to protest against the system and demanded change. And so the change came...

While the teacher was just to enter the modern History section of the syllabus, a student named Sonu interrupted.

Sonu: Ma’am wait a minute. You skipped the part that led to the revolution.

Teacher: Its complicated and you will know about that part of the History in your undergraduate courses.

Sonu:    Give us some idea at least.

The whole class echoed. Ma’am please, we want to know why our fathers hated our grand fathers.

Teacher: Okay, but promise me you wont tell your parents that I talked about that part of our History to you which we want to forget as if it was never there.

The teacher begins.

Teacher: Children, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. Is short it was a hell.

The whole class listened in dumb struck silence as the teacher came forward and almost whispered as she said:

Teacher: Those were the days when a girl of 23 years age was raped in a moving bus buy six men and thrown on the side of the road. She later died.

A girl sitting besides a boy shifted a little away from him and with a shirking voice asked
in some village?

Teacher: O’ no. in a city. And yet better in the capital city!

The whole class echoes: shame ... shame  ... shame
The teacher got a little closer to the students and looked outside the window to confirm that no one else was listening. Then she said: There riots in Ayaodhya and Godhra. Hindus and Muslims fought and killed each other.

Sonu: I don’t believe you.

Teacher: I can show a clipping of a news paper that tell how a Muslim family was trying to escape the riots of Godhra in early morning in a Tata Sumo were stopped and their car was wound by a metal wire and burnt.

Sonu: With people in it?

Teacher: Yes!

The children were frightened and shuddered.

An otherwise docile student of the classroom stood up and asked the teacher, then how come we talk about India being a secular country?

Teacher: Yes we are secular but we learnt the lesson hard. We fought and only after enough blood was shed we realized that the blood was same and peace cannot be brought on the foundations of violence. Now the words like rape and riots are not in use.

The teacher continued. The whole classroom was converted into a small circle as if the players of a football match huddled together with the caption sitting in the centre.

Teacher: there were good things also. In our Bollywood the greatest actors were Muslims. IN cricket the best pace bowler was a Muslim. In fields of science and technology too Muslims gained respect and honour. In fact, outside the political arena the idea of religion faded away more quickly than expected. Competence became more important.

The children relaxed to hear this. The teacher continued.

Teacher: The situation was not that grave as you might have imagined. In Katra many Muslims took the Hindu pilgrims to Vaishnav Devi shrine on their ponnies. In many localities Maszids and Temple were nearby and every morning the morning walkers used to listen the Aazaan and arti in the same air.

Monty: Just like these days.

Teacher: Yes.

Monty: But why did the revolution take place, because of religious strife?

Teacher: No no. Religion took a backseat in 2057. The reason of corruption and large scale unemployment of the youth.

The class asked: What is corruption?

Teacher: We do not teach this section of History to skip talking about the idea of corruption. It is at the heart of all complexity. I still make an attempt to talk about it.

The teacher stood up went back to the blackboard and drew a figure. It was a pyramid with a broad base and a pinnacle with small line separating it from the rest of the figure. The teacher continued to explain.

Teacher: See kids. Here at the top rested the bureaucratic, political, capitalist and landed elite members of the society. You can think of then as big balls tided together by one thread. This thread can be called as selfish-interest.

Sonal: You mean self-interest.

Teacher: No. I mean selfish-interest.

Sonal: But in the last lecture you told us about the self-interest of the peasants and military sepoyies who fought against the British empire in 1857.

Teacher: They had self-interest of making the country free so that the peasant can live withour famines and sepoyies can live without humiliation of external empire ruling them. No one fight with self-interest.

Sonal: Then what is selfish-interest?
Teacher: Great question Sonal! See when men mix their greed with their motives their efforts become selfish. They become corrupt and start to gain more than they need.

Sonal: But Gandhi ji said there is enough for everybody’s need not for everybody’s greed!
Teacher: Lovely Sonal! Connect the two idea and what you get?

Sonal: Corrupt society!

Teacher: Yes. This is what happened.

Sonu: Ma’am Sonal comes first in class she has read everything before this lecture. Teache us from beginning. I am not following.

Sonal proudly smiled. And said, you guys never study that is why women rule this country now.And see how well 
they do that.

Teacher smiled and said: Yes. Am I not the best teacher?

Yes maa’am( laughed the class)

Teacher: See Sonu. Plato said a philosopher leader, who was disenchanted by worldly desire, was the best person to rule. But in a society that gave importance to success and wealth, the philosopher tendencies of men and women were silenced. The environment was such that these men and women skid into oblivion and truth became silent in the land of Gandhi. The society valued wealth, name and fame rather than personal qualities.

Sonu: Is it why Kejriwal failed?

Teacher: Yes. He was a great man. He could not get public support. Those who supported him were those sections of the society who never voted. But his struggle did not go in vain. Corruption was routed from our country in the years to come. You gave the right example here. He was self-less and not greedy. He was brave and never compromised from his ideals. He failed because he could not understand what he was fighting against. Those were the days when everyone said he was against corruption, female infanticide, rape etc. But still all this happened. Nobody knew who to fight against. That was the real complexity.

The teacher pointed to the pyramid.

Teacher: The landed elites were agriculturists and there selfish interest was earning maximum profits. So they used to bribe the members of the committee that the government used to nominate to set the Minimum support price of crops. The price at which the government would procure from farmers in the seasons to come. The MSPs were set in favor of highest bribe givers. This made the farmers of few states very prosperous and left the rest poor, who could not bribe were left to suffer. The soil of our country is different in different states and each state supports the cultivation of separate crop. Such practices went unnoticed as the bureaucrats were happy to take bribes and build big banglows and send their kids in foreign institutes for higher education so that they can later come back and occupy seats in the top part of this pyramid.

Monty: Ma’am what happened to other states?

Teachers: they grew weaker and darker. The farmers committed suicides. Those who rose in opposition as leaders, were silenced as everyone had a price and a love for money. Landed elites were important to the political class as they gave money during election campaigns. The landed elites also commanded strong muscle powers and could help the political class win elections in their constituencies.

Sonal: Ma’am is was nexus then.

Teacher: Yes. How could a Kejriwal break it! Nobody wanted it to break.

 I would have broken it by winning the elections and becoming the prime minister.
Teacher: The prime ministers were not bad men in those days. They were great people of immense intelligence and competence.

Sonu: Why didn’t they break it then?

Teacher: There was a fundamental problem with corruption. To command power, you had to win either election or be landed elite or a business tycoon or a top class bureaucrat. But once you reached there you were faced with a challenge of staying there to do something. This involved complex trading and compromising. Without which one could not survive. It was mess.

Sonal: See, everything started with elections. In elections money was used to win votes to come to power. This was black money. Money taken from business tycoons, landed elites ect. The parties who won had to do favours to those from whom they took money at the same time work for the greater good. The benefits of the several governmental schemes trickled down to the poor and many a times with rising inflation on one side and great population on the other, it was not possible to solve all problems even by those men who wanted to.
Teacher: Excellent Sonal. This was the case which made a great thinker of those days Rajni Kothari move ahead of what John Maynards Keyenes and say: “the problem is not so much that in the long run we all are dead, but rather that in the short run not much can be done.”

Children chuckled.

Monty: Man’am we were so populous, why were we not doing anything about this. For inaction is gravest sin as per Bhagwad Geeta. How come people did not come forward to fight such a sorry state of affairs.
Teacher: Ignorance. They did not know. They did not understand much. They opposed FDI in retail but they did not know what it meant? They bought too much Gold for weddings and dowry and did not know how badly gold import made us weak. We lost so much money because of such wasteful buying. They bought cars and never pooled while going to office and burnt enough fuel. They wasted water. Every thing was corrupt and they did not know that they were a part of it.

Sonu: Were they not very educated and were there not about 500 news channels to educate them.

Teacher: News channels were naive in their coverage as they knew their audience was not well educated. These men and women went to college and saw their courses as professional courses and thought that earning money is the primary goal of life. Which we all know is the second important thing. First is?

The classroom roared: freedom from ignorance so that we may know what we desire.

Teacher: perfect! If you do not know that you want a good society to live in and make your aim just earning money and spending it for selfish desires you will find yourself in a society which you will not like. Then you will enter a society which is either not of your liking or not a society in true sense: example: Facebook.

Monty: I saw the profile of my grand paa. He seemed to have lived a very prosperous life. He earned well and bought whatever her desired he was a free man.

Teacher: Was he a free man in true sense?

Sonal: No ma’am he was a mere consumer in the market made my the business tycoons and companies like Reliance, Samsung, Apple etc. People used to buy products that used to get outdated sooner than they became old enough to exchange for new ones’.

Teacher: Exactly. That is the first thing a good business man aims at. Make a product and then make it outdated. So that the market keeps going. The market always aims at higher liquidity, that is money should flow as fast as possible.

Monty: But he seemed quite happy in all his Facebook photography. He wore good dresses and nice glasses. We got a great life because our grandfathers could send our fathers to nice schools and now we are here in the best school of our locality!

Teacher: Certainly. He worked hard and enjoyed life. But he enjoyed what was presented to him not what he actually wanted. Remember how Steve Jobs kept surprising the people with products they never used to dream of? When the product is not there you cannot enjoy it. Higher the degree of freedom, higher must be the choices to choose from. Few people in the society enjoyed maximum freedom and a majority of the population lived in abject poverty. It was an age of great inequality which kept growing as those who were educated became professional and started patronizing capitalist ideology that competence gives them the licence to live a better life than those who are not that competent as per the set standards of competence.

Teacher: What is an ideology?

Sonal: Any set of beliefs that a group holds as true without any reasoning.

Teacher: Yes. There came about a group of professional IT and other sector employees who started believing that the poor suffers because it is his parents fault of giving birth to children when they were so poor!

Sonu: Why didn’t they delete the word equality form the preamble of our Constitution?
Teacher: weren’t they ignorant and not aware about the historical factors. They did not know why farmers of Western India became prosperous during green revolution and those of eastern India remained poor. They could not see that they were competent because their parent were rich and belonged to higher rungs of this pyramid. Those who were below had to struggle a lot to come up even after the reservations given to them. Mainly because the government could not do anything about distributing the property held by people equitably. People of higher castes held big properties and those of lower castes were property-less and dependent on them.

Sonal: The level playing field was not there.

Teacher: Never there!

Monty: I do not agree, those who work hard go up the pyramid by their sheer competence. A PJ Abdul Kalam used to sell news papers, I also watched that movie I am Kalam.

Teacher: I do not deny that. There was a mixed picture. But the poor were living in great pain and did not see many choices and solutions. They found relief in religion thus. In 21st century too the people used to take dips in holy Ganges in huge numbers. Had they been very happy with life and very well aware about the way the things were, they would think twice before taking dip in polluted waters of Prayag.

Sonal: Ma’am I read Adam Smith’s book and he holds that: “The difference of natural talents in different men is, in reality, much less than we are aware of; and the very different genius which appears to distinguish men of different professions, when grown up to maturity, is not upon many occasions so much the cause, as the effect of the division of labor”. IS it not also true that most of the work at the IT companies was done by lowly paid programmers while the sons and daughters of the company owners used to buy BMWs on their birthdays? Whose money was that? And who was the real talent behind their free lives?

Monty: I accept that by birth there are some divisions but a competent man will always find his way out.

Teacher: That is true and that happened in India as well. India was by far much better than the neighbouring countries. People enjoyed more freedoms here. But with globalization came the problem of a new kind. People started to compare their, nation with the Western countries and became restless about all they could not do here. They copied a lot from the West. They developed a taste for their music and dressing sense, thinking that by coping them they became more sophisticated and advanced. They started watching the games played in western countries, and could never know why our players failed so miserably at international games. Because they were ignorant about the basic idea of a nation. A nation is made by its people. If the educated and prosperous keeps looking towards the west then behind their back the nation withers.

Sunny: But what at all could they have done? They had no choice. But to watch and be the audience.

Teacher: Exactly. And therefore they were not free men but slaves of the situation. They were slaves because they could not understand what to do about the situation. They kept waiting for something to change and meanwhile spent their precious lives of facebook for no other reason but because there was not much to do in life outside. They were indirectly made to understand that they do not have to play any role in nation making in they are not in the top of this pyramid. In the top meanwhile, the selfish game kept going on and self-aggrandizing into bigger and bigger scams. There used to be protests. But they all were short lived and ineffective. The people did not know their rights and did not know the law. They could not understand several things as they were not directly affected by them. They felt that by being the tax payers they have the rights which the Constitution provides them. But those were the rights that could be enjoyed by the nation that the people pledged to make and not a nation that was already there. People gave themselves the Constitution and pledged to make a country on those principles.

Sonal: How can a population of able men sticking to capitalist ideology make a nation that calls itself socialist?

Teacher: Now you can see the paradox. Those who had to make the nation, were busy enjoying live and posting every small thing on Facebook and those who suffered grw more and more angry till the revolution of 2057 took place.
Rest in the next class.....

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