30 October, 2008

Interesting times

It is amazing how everything has an angle without which nothing happens. Raj is out to do what uncleji did long ago and the congress is OK with it as it weakens uncle and splits the vote. Who cares what this means and whether it might have repercussions in a country where the dialect changes every 100 kilometers and the local script changes at every 500 kilometers. Why will the government not act? It stands to lose more votes in Maharasthra than gain a few in Mumbai.

India is almost as alien to exist as a country as the United States of Europe - only with 600 million more people packed in an area which is a third of Europe. Europe has had such a colourful existence up until 1945 and it took about 70 million deaths for Europeans to shed their expansionist ambitions, appreciate the value of peaceful coexistence and learn to behave themselves.

India was luckier.
In spite of the chaos which existed - the brits leaving, partition, princely states, hindu kings with muslim kingdoms and vice versa, 300 million people, famine, floods - we were able to pull through. It took at likes of Sardar Patel, Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi and the sheer force of their ideals and their power over our collective imagination which held this country together.

We are not so lucky today.
Today, we are a country which is so short of political charisma and excitement. A good example was when  we were at the mercy of the good sense of Ms. Gandhi to turn down the prime ministership of this country which had been handed to her on a platter. Every person in power has a base derived by his identity. Identity has always been important to Indians - probably because there are so many identities one carries. For example, I am a Hindu, Srivastava, From Chapra, Upper caste, Bihari, North Indian. Each one of them is something I was born into and not something which I have any control on.
I am also an engineer and an MBA. But does anyone care if any one of these MPs are even literate? Do we even know? Had I been in politics, my identities would subsume my capabilities.

I wonder if universal suffrage is a such a good thing. How would this country be if only graduates could vote (due credit to SS for talking to me about this) ? Should we have tried out "each one, teach one" before universal suffrage?

"May you live in interesting times" is apparently a Chinese curse. I did now know that till quite recently. In fact, I have included it in greeting cards. Looking at India today, I understand this chinese nugget better.