Friday, November 28, 2008

The bitter dose

The worst thing about the crises like Taj stand-off is the rhetoric that follows. The cliche of spirit of Mumbai, the cliche of "Enough about this spirit of Mumbai", "terrorism has no religion" (Actually true: religion has terror built into it and not vice versa) blah blah.

Then the diplomatic use of "foreign hand" (as opposed to member up our patriotic arse), "dastardly act", speeches of blood, toil, sweat and tears.

Would, tomorrow, the mama at the Traffic Junction stop on his tracks for a second before he accepts a bribe of hundred for the challan he threatens to cut?
Would the aggrieved respectable shop-keeper at CP, who always stays at the Taj when in Mumbai, start filing sales tax and declare his true income for 2009?
Would a hundred men in the crowd, tomorrow, stop a couple of men bashing an auto-wallah instead of ogling?

Two friends had solicited my opinion, gotten jarred by the fact that I have broken order by instead of fuming a choked "This time they have gone too far" I breathed a tired "We always had it coming", and then asked me what ifmy parents were there inside? How would I feel then, heh?
Sad and Angry. I still am. But the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.

remember the Olympics and the promise of 3o medals next time? Exactly how do we want to achieve it, I wonder. Cricket is back as strong as it ever was.
I am not questioning the righteousness of our national preference It is what it is and that is why we fare poorly at other sports, other than the odd unavoidable sparks of genius.

Same with our politics: it is what it is and what we have allowed it to become.
India, its corruption and its third-world afflictions, are what they are and no amount of self-congratulatory rhetoric can change that.

We have no infrastructure, water and electricity supply are still a scarce commodity, a cumbersome bureaucracy that sucks every penny out of development funds; we are usually corrupt, we would flee from a scene of accident but stop at one not involving us and then gloat at the bloodied victim slowly dies.
Why are we hankering about the necks of a couple of octogenarian politicians? What strict action do we want?
How is a strike, a war going to solve anything when the problem is with the product itself under attack?
And I am not being cynical and rhetorical when I ask these questions: seriously, you who talk of these things, sit down and let me know how any such solution would work in a five year horizon at least.

Blaming Shivraj Patil is as bad as incarcerating the Ebay CEO for the MMS. It was an intelligence failure that can only get highlighted once it fails.
Why are we assuming fool-proof systems in a system as wrecked as ours?

I am not even advocating – as some editorials-hogging fools regularly do – that we change our national character. Like it’s a bloody cap or something that you just doff off and put another instead.

In histories, dominant national characters have changed only with cataclysmic events – the revolution and terror in France, civil war in States or in the ruins of WW2 in Japan and Germany.
Perhaps, that’s what history is preparing us for: the bitter dose.

1 comment:

Sameer Sarma said...

A systemic breakdown! Wow! Have I not heard that term before? The systemic failure leading to the financial crisis seem an eon ago now. Almost forgotten. This will be forgotten too, I am sure.

Not sure what the remedy is though! Its overwhelming when there seems to be no remedy. Callousness is the only natural reaction, but callousness perpetuates this evil.

We are too large, too diverse, too factionalized to share common responsibilities. This is not an elephant that moves slowly, this is a gargantuous pile of garbage relying on the slime underneath to slowly slide to the nearest gutter, where hopefully the mass will disentangle and the lightest will flow the furthest.

Let us all enjoy the slide while we are at it.