Oct 18, 2011

When a Nation Churns

As children, most of us were exposed to those fantastic mythological tales in which 'good' mostly triumphed over the evil and the sanctity of the Almighty was restored. One such fascinating Pauranik story involved churning (समुद्र मंथन) of the Great Ocean of Milk (क्षीर सागर). The Great Churning was meant to consolidate the Devas and extract the 'nectar of immortality' from the ocean. The churning also symbolized the periodic 'clean-up' action undertaken by the nature, under the supervision of Almighty, to get rid of all the undesired elements and enrich itself with precious new endowments.

Now, the story may seem outlandish and way too unrealistic for us to digest. But as is the case with most of the Vedic scriptures and rituals, this story too has a very real and special connect with the current times. We need not go too far to find the churning analogy, the churn has begun, right under our nose, in our own backyard. Yes, India as a nation is tantalizingly poised to set foot into a new era. No, this is neither about our superpower obsession nor about UNSC seat fixation. This is about a nation that is getting rid of all its political, bureaucratic rust and demanding a 'change'.

Its only for the second time since independence (the first instance being the JP Movement) that the collective conscience of the nation seems to be awakened. Or at least, there are some people asking questions. There are debates over laws and bill drafts, calls are being made to amend the constitution. We have taken things lying down for most of the part of the history. After the first battle for independence in 1857, it took us almost another 100 years for becoming free. I wonder if it was not for stubbornness of a semi-naked man, India would have easily consumed some more time in getting independent. 

Even after being a 60-Year old, well-functioning democracy, we have forgotten to exercise our basic right. The right to ask questions. We have accepted the system the way it is. Our actions are routine, endorsing and always subscribing to the 'majority'. It is in this regard that the current scenario in India holds immense significance. Finally, there is a nation-wide debate over passing of a law, people are getting agitated about issues and patience seems to be running out. All these developments many appear dangerous on face value but one needs to take a closer look to examine them.

Anarchy is definitely not the best gift for a democratic country but absolute order is not good either. India was way too docile, its citizens way too passive in that regard. Hardly half of us vote in the elections, we take terror attacks in our stride, cry after loosing a cricket match and get back to work the next morning (for those who work). We had lost our volatility, zeal and had forgotten the immense potential we possess, in the process. We became used to corrupt politicians, non-functional governments, roads with potholes and electricity cuts. We stopped asking questions, seeking reforms and looking at the future. Our leaders had already set the future for us: India Superpower by 2020.

But the Windfall seems to have arrived. And a part of the credit must go to the team of social activists, led by Anna Hazare, who gave a kind of shock therapy to the nation. Suddenly, we appreciate the power our sticks wield. We want debates over issues, policies and laws. There is a will to shake-up the system, to make it more efficient, transparent and public-friendly. The churning is on its way.The battle is now not just against corruption, it transcends to issues such as electoral reforms, land acquisition, Kashmir, state reorganization and many more. Lets look at some examples:
  • A so far non-political 'team' campaigns against the ruling Congress in a Haryana by-poll and contributes to the party's candidate's drubbing. Remember those Bollywood dialogues: 'Agar system to badalna hai toh isi system mein reh ke kaam karna hoga'. The team is enthused. And I am sure this is not going to be their last political engagement.
  • For the first time in more than a decade, the country is debating over its future Prime Minister. Their seems to be a dislike for anything 'old'. Advani is being ridiculed in most quarters, praised in some for his undying energy. There seems to be a race for the 7 Race Course Road, a healthy one. Rahul Gandhi is the pin-up boy whose bottom we love to pinch. Not to forget other challengers like Narendra Modi and dark horses like Nitish Kumar. Every politician suddenly knows that politicking is no more about fooling people. They are watching their steps, tongue and all other body parts. The electorate is suddenly at the higher pedestal.
  • Over last one year, a series of corruption cases have been exposed. While the magnitude of these scams is troubling, the exposure has shocked the political class and rocked the boats of the corporates. Heavyweights are being sent to jail, this is the season of resignations. All these developments set a great precedent and will act as deterrents for those who like to play with gray shades.
  • There is intense debate over 'Right to Reject'. The Chief Election Commissioner of India has brought out some valid points against the proposed move. Those who are demanding this clause in citizen's Right to Vote will definitely respond. This is the essence of a functioning democracy. As free and aware citizens, we must know how to ask and engage. 

    It is this environment of engagement, involvement and debate that Indian democracy always needed. It needed activism on part of its citizens, concern on part of its politicians. All of this churning will keep the government on its toes and the opposition on its mark. Change, Reform and other such loaded words are not so loaded after all. All we need is a bit of urgency and sensibility. India awaits its transformation from a sluggish, promising, developing country into a brisk, developed and awakened nation.

    Each one must do his/her bit. Know more, ask more, do more. Are you in?


    1. Hmm. The frustration in you is highly visible in this post. The thoughts have been put in a very apt manner depicting the sad thought process of our generation. Nice!

    2. Thank You Lebnox :) But this is hope not frustration ;)

    3. :P Told you, I'm actually not good in grasping these kinda things. But being your follower, I had to read it. ;)

    4. I am very glad and obliged that you read it. These are the posts I want people to read and comment. These are the posts that are close to my heart :) Thank You :)

    5. BTW, I m coming with a harsh, ruthless post on those who are seemingly agitated by Ra.One making the right noises. I expect your full cooperation in making it viral till Diwali. We can at least contribute a tiny portion toward the film's eventual mammoth collections :D

    6. :) My pleasure.

      And ohh yes, go ahead! I will support it! My word for that!

      And this dhanteras I begin promoting Ra.One as well. MY WAY!

    7. powerful and responsible..

      After reading the note, i went through its entire length and smiled.. i was so intrigued by the content of the note that i act. dint remem when i started and when it got finished.. provoking one !!