RAMYA KRISHNAMURTHY writes from Bangalore: I was watching the tug-of-war, sparked by Narendra Modi‘s latest disgrace, on different TV channels last night, when I was struck dumb by one simple fact: our politicians, be they pseudo-secularists or pseudo-nationalists, are the only humans proudly defying the most basic tenets of the human spirit.
A school child wants to score more marks than her best friend. A mother wants to bring up her children better than her neighbour. A father wants to excel in the assignments at his work place. An athlete wants to get stronger than other athletes. An engineer wants to build taller buildings. An industrialist wants to set up a bigger facility.
A singer wants to shine in a concert. An Udupi waiter wants to serve faster. A doctor wants to earn a good name. A shopkeeper wants to serve his customers better and earn more. A sweeper wants to keep his street cleaner and earn the compliments. A journalist wants to do different stories to catch reader’s attention.
More. Better. Stronger. Taller. Faster. Bigger. Excel. Shine. Different.
When was the last time you heard those nine words, in any combination, from the mouths of your politician?
As I watched the smug, supercilious lawyers of the BJP and the Congress masquerading as spokesmen splitting hairs deftly last night, I was left with the uncomfortable feeling that our politicians are the only humans who are not aspiring for something better, something different.
They are the only humans in our midst who are trying not to excel or shine. The only brand-managers trying not to put out a better product in the electoral marketplace.
This may seem like a cynical outpouring. It is not. It shows what we are fast losing as a democracy in the midst of the finger-waving and name-calling. Our politicians seem completely contented being what they are. It’s as if they have reached the apogee of achievement; nothing higher, nothing larger, nothing nobler guides them any longer.
# If the shameless Congress guy points a finger at Gujarat 2002, the shameless BJP guy won’t cringe in shame or embarrassment. What about 1984, he says. And what about Nandigram.
# If the shameless Communist guy says, “Modi said for every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction,” the shameless BJP won’t express regret. “Didn’t Buddhadeb say, ‘Our boys were paying back with the same coin’. Didn’t Rajiv say, ‘When a big tree falls, the earth shakes’?”
# And if the shameless Congress and Communist guys say, “Minorities have never felt more vulnerable in Gujarat,” the shameless BJP guy won’t seek to reassure. “Where were your feelings for the thousands of Pandits who were driven out of Kashmir?”
Be it corruption, communalism, casteism, criminalisation or coalition, our parties have achieved a neat balance of terror. They are proud of it. They are unapologetic about it. And they give a damn to what “We, the People” think of it.
There is no grand, democratic, inclusive, optimistic vision about India i.e. Bharat. It’s all about the here and now. They are everything we try not to be, and they seem very happy about it.
Looking at them, you might almost be led to wonder: are they human?