By Ananya S Guha
There are adversaries in this country. One is poverty, allied to this are education and development. The other is politicization of religion and also divisive and fractious elements. Again, we have the question of safety; especially that of women, suddenly now the box is open, and we hear of rape cases at regular intervals; scams closely follow; the association of money with politics and its cohorts. Plutocrats rule the roost like never before. Many feel at governance is at its lowest ebb, some people are projected as Prime Ministers, as if the elections are over! The way one person is singularly projected as a Prime Minister, one would think the inevitable is already over. The media is at its animated best projecting this person with an eye of a hawk, an astrologer or prophetic doom. Long live the electronic media, with its raucous repartee, and histrionics which would put a Richard Burton or an Elizabeth Taylor to shame, including their tempestuous love life.
The adversaries are within, not without. They are not so much the machinations of Pakistan, or a clever ISI. They are sadly, forces from within, embattled political powers and parties- they are the rich oppressing, the poor. They are the powers who formulate education policies; and their grandiose elements without applying them. They are the people who select teachers in state and central universities at the behest of power mongers. The appointment of Vice Chancellors is a political ploy and such people mostly capitulate to the whims of politicians. The ubiquitous presence of drop outs and street children; is looked askance at with insensitiveness. Then we have an education policy which focuses on free meals, and we know what they look like or taste. Corruption should be taught as an elective subject in colleges; then only will the intelligentsia understand how heinous it is, or its ramifications. The poor are despised the rich are adulated with admiring eyes. Long live the country.
In the midst of all this we are told that the economy is progressing with rapid alacrity- lies, damned lies and statistics are the order of the day! Order, order, we don’t need the jurisprudence to deem such appalling facts. In the midst of this is the behemoth- cricket. Tons and tons of money are poured into this game, with its architects asking for more and more, like the proverbial Dickensian character. So we have betting and vetting and of course whetting the appetite for money.
We have rightist and leftist forces, each professing radical and extreme ideologies. The middle path is no better. We have also uproar in the form of extremism, terrorism and militancy. In some regions it is militancy, in some it is terrorism, and in some it is extremism. Nomenclatures vary according to taste, but their basic causes are hardly analyzed. So we have a sorry picture of an internationally known doctor, put behind the bars, and had it not been for a dispassionate Supreme Court to intervene, he would have languished there forever…
The youth who are supposed to be the pride of the country, with every leader touting their case as the future of the country, seem to spend a lot of time in a virtual world, of course they protest, as in the case of the Delhi rape in December 2012, but this seems to be more in the form of hysteria, coming and going in a transitory phase. They of course seem to have a predilection for writing the novel ( in English) with publishers wanting to make hay while the sun shines. Fair enough, but very few are metamorphosed into a vociferous Arundhati Ray! Well, we better not complain, otherwise it will be a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black. Literary festivals are a handle for asserting dichotomies between reservation, and non reservation, with passing decrees on who are more corrupt, also to read out excerpts from proscribed books, and then signing joint memoranda. This is good, but all in the comforts of a pleasant opulence.
Coming back to education it is opium of the masses. Everyone talks about it, its rights, but precious little is done to follow up a concerted policy. Civil Rights societies dabble in everything from politics to education, to developmental agenda, but the results are not fructuous- if it had been so, we would have witnessed cataclysmic changes. The only cataclysms worth the name are violent uprisings, bomb blasts and unleashing terrorist forces. So, we have a leader talk about a Hindu Nationalism, but none talking about a salutary nationalism. We have generic discussions of how bad a particular community is, or how good both in ethnic or religious terms. In between we have; ‘ Big Fights’ on TV shows to titillate our desiccated imaginative powers, and the powers that be are silent watchmen.
Dickens’ prophecy is partially true, it is ‘’ the worst of times’’. The ‘’ best of times ‘’ does not arise. The use of technology is glamour not an effective tool for classrooms and education. The easiest use of the internet that is emails can very profitably be used for education.
Prophets of doom of course spell disaster, saying the country will be split, that will or will not happen not happen, but this painful schizophrenia will continue, with the poor and middle class left to fend an uncertain life. Only historical determinism will sway the meandering course of this country.