Lest We Forget!!!

In his seminal work of 2005 – “The Argumentative Indian” Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, “argued” that the understanding and use of the argumentative tradition of Indians are critically important for the success of India’s democracy and its other ethos. However between 2005 and now, the argumentative Indian has matured into “The Outrageous Indian” I guess.  In India presently, the economy is under tremendous strain permeating pain all over. Ergo, the GDP has fallen off the cliff and not sure how low it will get by the time this fiscal year gets over. However no such problems for GDO – “Gross Domestic Outrage”!! In the last few years there has been no paucity for outrage in this country. Many opportunities have been presented to us in meticulous frequency and we have all faithfully shown our outrage whether it is on the streets, on Twitter, on Facebook or on WordPress.

Lest we forget, I wanted to do a reality check on if things have got any better post the pouring of outrage.  Here we go:

Lokpal bill: In the August of 2011, a frail Gandhian by name Anna Hazare and a group of argumentative Indians bandied as Team Anna by the media brought thousands of middle class Indians to the streets.  The cause was to get a “Lokpal bill” passed in parliament. At the peak of its movement Team Anna moved the country and was inexorable. Today, Anna has been pushed to avail VRS (voluntary retirement scheme), Team Anna on losing steam got dismantled and Lokpal bill is in cold storage.  Once again.

Delhi Gang Rape: The heinous act by a few thugs in the capital city in the Dec of 2012 ushered in Outrage 2.0. India’s political class made all the right noises (political noise i.e.) in the aftermath, Nirbhaya became omnipresent, Justice Verma was commissioned to suggest suitable amendments to the Crime Laws, he rose to the occasion and submitted his recommendations in record time, the Govt. passed a law with supposedly stiff provisions to prevent rape,… ,…So far so good.  7 long months on – the guilty have not been punished yet. If this is the situation on one of the most visible crimes in the country, I shudder to imagine what would be the state of affairs on lesser known crimes!!  Justice Verma in the meantime passed away and to me, the cause which he furthered all his life (Justice System) failed once again. And for the Govt. closure was achieved when in the Budget it set up a “Nirbhaya fund”!!! Did we hear anything on that post March???

Coalgate: Till then CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) in India was just another “babu” whose department did audits of Govt. departments and released reports, mostly harmless. But this time the then CAG Vinod Rai decided to do a “Seshan” and released a draft report which accused the Govt. of a scam of epic proportions in allotment of coal blocks to public and private enterprises arbitrarily thereby causing loss of ( I forgot ) so many lakh crores!!! The opposition duly disrupted parliament for a whole session. And where are we today? There is a power shortage in most parts of the country. Power plants need coal. Mining has been stopped in most of the states. A Congress MP and a young scion Navin Jindal has been accused to be in the thick of action in the scam. A minister does “proof reading” of the status report prepared by the CBI (He ceases to be a minister now). And frankly I’ve lost track on what’s happening in this front!!! At the end, are there now clear guidelines on allotment of coal blocks or for that matter any natural resource??

Pakistan’s dastardly act in LOC: 2 Indian soldiers were captured, killed, beheaded and their body mutilated allegedly by Pakistan army in the LOC. The outrage here in this part of LOC was spontaneous. I’m not privy to the steps our Govt. took subsequently. We hope some steps have indeed been taken to ensure this doesn’t repeat.

Blasts in Hyderabad: Yesterday, 13th July marked the 2nd Anniversary of the serial blasts that shook Mumbai. Few months from now, it will be the 1st Anniversary of the twin blasts that rocked Dlisukhnagar in Hyderabad in February. Anniversaries such as this come and go and Candles do brisk business on these days. We are yet to figure out the cause, the perpetrators of the crime or any mechanism/process to prevent such acts in the future. In fact last Sunday the Bodhi temple in Bihar was the centre of another blast!!! That Buddha in his time was considered an apostle of peace completes the tale of irony.

Match fixing: For long Indians were supposedly good at match fixing. The only way Indians got married was when their parents “fixed the match”. As things changed in that space, we turned to a different Match fixing it seems. It emerged that in IPL (Indian Premier League) cricket, players were involved in betting and fixing the outcomes. It turned out later that even owners were also in the ring. Another rage. From everyday dose of investigative revelations few months back to complete peace in that front, we find that the whole saga has been fixed and buried with no outcome!

Uttarakhand flooding: This is the recent one. We don’t know if the floods have actually receded there but the nation’s attention and mindshare already have, already. Actually now starts the act of reconstruction. If done with vision, here’s an opportunity to create a new “Chardham” experience. Will it happen? Ground evidence doesn’t provide any play for hope.

So as can be seen, for the aam admi it’s been just OSOT – Outrage Se Outrage Tak (From one outrage to another) and they have not yielded any tangible result.  In a democracy as ours, our opportunity to “materially” intervene comes once in 5 years. Post that intervention, we have no choice but just to show outrage.  At the same time is there a way by which while we keep moving on, get the attention focused on the earlier issue and obtain closure? Can the leading news channels/newspapers devote a weekly slot on re-visiting “Open issues”?  Is it too much to expect of the opposition to demand action on older issues?  Can we have constitutional amendments paving way for the President to intervene on outstanding issues? Gurcharan Das in his piece in TOI today goads us to spend 1 hour a week in the neighbourhood as an answer to our increasing political disenchantment.

This is my small attempt to keep the fire on, lest we forget.

Outrage

Tailpiece : When he was “outraged”, Bharathiyar said:

thani oru manithanukku unavu illai enil jagathinai erithiduvom” (if there is no food for a single person we will destroy the whole universe)

Today’s Govt. says:

thani oru manithanukku unavu illai enil Food Security Bill kondu varuvom” ( If there is no food for a single person we will bring the Food Security bill)!!!

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20 thoughts on “Lest We Forget!!!

  1. A passionate piece but what is the aim? To remind people that there are so many things that were unresolved? People don’t forget, people overlook.

    I am sorry if I sound overly critical. The post is well written but I feel it lacks a lesson or even a resolution. The post is simply asking for further outrage on things that have already died out. As much as you and me can hate it, the elephant that is India will not be moved by this.

    Gurcharan Das’ article talks about taking actions in your locality where you stand a chance instead of outpouring about events too big for us to challenge. If you are following his advice may I suggest researching on a more local issue and generating awareness about that?

    Once again I know this sounds overly critical but I give honest feedback and I would expect no less from you in return.

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    • Prabhakar says:

      Hi Pkeday, I think you are missing the point. The author is saying, we have moved from Gandhian way of Ahimsa, to, today’s method of demand response, argue and show outrage. The showing outrage is to the so called responsible authorities/law makers (corrupt politicians mostly) to institute closure/change laws/punish the perpetrators so that these issues ultimately reduce going forward. Definitely not use for political gain.

      So, summing it up, he states even this outrage attitude today had not helped in yielding tangible results. The conclusion was a question to all of us. i.e., Do you think this outrage attitude should continue? And he also adds that the Media / communication channels (TV, newspapers) should continue to maintain a past issues list and continue to focus on past issues along with new issues.

      My answer to the author is, it is absolutely a great idea that journalists should not forget the past issues and should allocate time to talk about them weekly outside of the new breaking news they bring up. Thanks Anand Kumar RS.

      So, Pkeday, I politely disagree with you statements that there needs to be a lesson and that these national issues need to be tackled regionally. These issues (regional ones usually when it starts) when seen in a developed country, gets immense attention through out the country as a national headline. In our country India, it starts as a national headline news but almost everything gets left unfinished. Forget about proactive / preventive steps, this dies. There are reasons for this which i don’t deny, like needing capital to drive it to completion, ruling politicians thinking “what’s in it for my advantage”, or, the contrary, a non-ruling party thinking “what’s in it for me to stomp the ruling party” etc. The people need to realize these and as a suggestion, Indians should not elect a run of the mill politicians. We need someone young with a new blood and good education to realize that the issues need to conclude with tangible results.

      Just my 2 cents.

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      • Hi Prabhakar, thanks for reading and for your views. I can see the passion and the pain at the same time in the lines you have written. Once again thanks for stepping in.

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    • Hi your views are most welcome. I’m seeking answers to see how we can have a force multiplier effect in this country ? How do we ensure that issues are not forgotten. Of course media can play a role if they wish to. The other way is pressure groups among us who can keep putting pressure using all fora / tools available. It is a long haul I admit. Feel free to continue to express. Thanks

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  2. Really enjoyed reading this. I particularly like the point about a transition from an argumentative culture to an outrage culture in India. In fact, that is true. The culture of debate, discussion, and argument is almost over in India. Many of our current day problems could have been sorted out through those methods. Keep writing!

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  3. You have covered almost everything that has made news recently. Should outrage be the outcome? Can we be more constructive and move a step forward and do something? That is the question.

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    • Hi, thanks for your views. As I mentioned, we have the chance to intervene only once in 5 years. Outside of that we must use all the fora available to express our concern. But I feel that media, opinion leaders,.. Can do a more active role in ensuring that all open issues are repeatedly re- visited till a logical conclusion is reached. Thanks once again.

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      • This once in five year bogey does not impress me. Political parties react to the society. We have to make a difference. If we stand up for what is right they will have no option but to go along. They are products of society. Shock and awe tactics to ‘wake up’ society won’t work. Productive change will.

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  4. Nithya says:

    Really good writing. Yes most of the issues remain unresolved and in many cases there are 2 sides to the issues..If the law is too rigorous chances of framing innocents arise..if the focus is on development, ecology suffers and if the focus is too much on the policies..the implementation or decision suffers (coal allotment). I hope we find ways to achieve balance. In such a vast country as India, unless we all contribute towards the social issues, there cannot be any solutions..

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  5. Vijay Venkatachalam says:

    Need of the hour – Courage to handle this Outrage… – a short time memory loss patient (i forget every 5 yrs)…

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