Saturday, June 24, 2017

Things Fall Apart; the Centre Cannot Hold!

My daughter would dub me Captain Obvious!

ISRO has done it again! Their latest satellite has gone up with appropriate fanfare, well deserved, as it travels along its pre-determined path with precision. This satellite will boost the capability of the Indian Armed Forces to keep a hawk’s eye on hostile territory. It will also give a fillip to vital areas of urban management and planning, crop maintenance, and provide high-resolution images of a world that persists in growing smaller, if not friendlier! This is ISRO’s sixth eye, as our scientists grow more professional and precise with every launch, creating moments of immense pride and honour for every Indian.
So, my daughter would dub me ‘Captain Obvious’. Why do I wax eloquent on a topic that is so in the public eye, one that needs no introduction? Of course, we puff out our chests and laud ourselves for the diligence and the dedication of our scientists.
Unfortunately, we tend to puff up our chests and vent our emotions on many other occasions as well, when things go up, and how!
Like the crime rate, which has been skyrocketing over the years in a society that prides itself on its ancient culture. And that is what our culture is – ancient! There seems very little evidence of that culture today, as basic instincts seem to override the basic tenets of decency.
Why else would we see myriad cases of crimes against women, the weak, the aged, children, even babies? If Delhi is known as the rape capital, shouldn’t it make us hang our heads in shame? If gang rapes occur with impunity across the country, even after a few rapists are given capital punishment, if babies are thrown out of moving vehicles, young girls are kidnapped and murdered and acid is thrown openly on girls’ faces by suitors spurned in love, what does that say about us as a society?
Road rage and unpleasantness are rampant on the streets, as vehicle drivers careen around crazily, causing a ripple effect as autos zigzag their way, competing with two wheelers that assume they could fit themselves in the eye of a needle. Invectives are heard everywhere, as drivers shake their fists at all and sundry, blowing their horns stridently especially if they are themselves in the wrong, offence being the best defence, after all. If one could draw a cartoon of a traffic jam, waves of intense rage and frustration could be seen hovering over every vehicle, as stress levels go ballistic. Is it any wonder that incidences of high blood pressure and stress levels have also gone up, like the aforesaid satellite, creating a country of ailing individuals, living on pills?
One topic that always causes tempers to rise meteorically is a most hallowed one – religion! As the goddess of dawn makes her gentle presence felt, her ears, and the ears of startled sleepers, are rudely assailed by loud, raucous music, blaring through loudspeakers placed where they can do the most harm. These are the handiwork of the over-zealous Good Samaritans who feel that it is their religious duty to cleanse the world of all other faiths. So bhajans, hymns and the azaan vie with one another, each trying to create a monopoly, as the moderate believers wish they could either go deaf or go abroad to escape this noise, much akin to the ancient Tower of Babel.
Today’s parents pull their hair out in handfuls at the exorbitant rise of fees in educational institutions. After they have paid up the tuition fees, there is a whole vista of departments that hold out their hands to loosen their purse strings further – lab fees, sports fees, maintenance funds, field trip expenses and the ubiquitous ‘miscellaneous’ charge when they have no worldly reason up their sleeves. No finishing school could finish their students off better!
Sadly, our children grow up watching all these anomalies, and their little mindsets which are like clean slates, get scribbled over with ideas that erase their innocence. Hence, we find youngsters out on the streets, pelting stones as they raise slogans at the tops of their voices, driving under the influence of liquor at speeds that go beyond their control, raging young Romeos who take the law into their own hands to punish and to brutalize, and monstrous juveniles who escape the clutches of the law by a mere whisker.
The common man is most affected by the escalating price rise of items of daily use. When onions get expensive, he makes do without them, and when chicken and mutton grow unaffordable, he does not dare to turn to beef, because the very mention of it could cause him to be lynched. The poor man has much to beef about, even otherwise.  
The Indian cricket team has to be on its toes constantly. If they lose a match, especially against a hostile neighbour, they are in danger of their homes being vandalized by groups of intruders who have done nothing in their lives, but watch cricket and violent movies. No wonder then that the latter consider themselves the keepers of the dignity of the nation, and rush in where decent folks fear to tread.
However, the unkindest cut of all comes when a man in uniform in the prime of his life is stoned to death by a mindless mob, for doing his duty, for providing security to those very elements who raise their voices against the fabric of our nation. Edgar Allen Poe talked sense when he said, “The nose of a mob is its imagination. By this, at any time, it can be quietly led.”
The unfairly slain, of whom there is a long, poignant list, are hailed as martyrs and brave hearts, but these hollow words do nothing to dry the tears or appease the anguish in the hearts of those who love them. They end up as talking points on strident television news channels, with political parties milking their deaths for all they are worth. Babe Ruth it was who said, “Heroes get remembered but legends never die.”  
And finally, politicians are not good or bad; it is their thinking that makes them so. A section of them talk, long and loud, before elections, offering high-pitched promises and material sops to the blessed voter. But as a rather quirky proverb goes in Kerala, “As long as one is on the bridge, one is called Narayana; the moment one crosses it, he turns into Koorayana.” Likewise, once the elections are over and done with, the promises fly away in the wind in many a case, at least till the next elections come by.
I do wish and hope that the decibel levels will go down along with the intolerance, the bigotry, the racism, the injustice, the violence, the molestation, the mob fury and the corruption that exists today. Our forefathers warned us about Kali Yuga, when crime would rise and walk the streets, and I think we have reached its very abyss today. Now it is time that we started climbing back, surely and steadily, on to the high moral ground that beckons to us. It will be a steep ascent, but it is not impossible. This is possibly the most pessimistic article that I have ever written, and I do so with an ache in my heart, but I believe that we can reform, we can improve and we can regain the morality that we have allowed to slip away.
As the man with the beautiful soul, Dr. APJ Kalam eloquently said,
"If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher."
He went on to add, "Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. Where there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home. Where there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation. Where there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world."
May we have the strength of character to follow his wisdom and apply it in our lives and bring back harmony and order in our great country. This is the time to gird our loins so that we may have a safer tomorrow for generations to follow.

Let's all make the effort now!


  1. Thanks for this realistic article. Much needed and very sensible! Great job as always Deepti!

    1. Thank you so much, Ayan. This has been on my mind for some time now!


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