This denial of what is reality, what is the tursh?
This is an intellectual journal, you should realise! So, we have to ask hard questions, use words that are new and also critical for our cognition and much intellectual self-doubt and also much searching for new issues and the answers that issues might call for.
Just now I have read a book (“Why We Lie” by Dorothy Rowe, Fourth Estate, 384 pages) review in the FT Weekend, the London big society journal read by the high and the mighty. Yes, why we lie? See the current Indian scene! Bhopal tragedy is everywhere it seems. But leaders don’t talk; they don’t appear in public, while other junior players talk at cross purposes!
While we must have open governance in a democracy, what we have is total silence and much secrecy! Okey, what is this government which doesn’t speak or even know how to act, respond!
While we must get clarity, what we have is an all enveloping paranoia!
The author of the book is a psychologist of repute, age 80 and she says:”I have reached an age when I no longer need to pretend that I know everything!” Here in India what we get?
While no one knows what to say, yet we see the prime minister and the party leaders pretend they know everything! Yet, they don’t know and don’t speak!
So, we need more psychological approach to the problems we confront as a democracy!
It is about the truths as we believe for what we all tell for our really gross lies! Human intelligence, our sense of morality, honesty and much else sometimes don’t prove to be those virtues but under various stress and compulsions, stress of being selfish (after all we all selfish you know, have you read Richard Dawkin’s “Selfish Genes”?) and also for the reasons of our material existence, money, power and the various illusions of existence etc, we do tell lies and move on, right?
We need some antidote to our various weaknesses, self delusion, double talk, shame, rage and guilt and various mental “illnesses” of which our world seems to be full of them. Now, I am disturbed by the sheer “absolutism, dogmatism and tribalism” to borrow the phrases from an eminent visiting microbiologist-scientist who used the very same phrases to the Indian science establishment, I want to borrow the phrases to apply to our political establishment as well!
The scientist, Richard Jefferson, says Indians are given to deny they could be wrong when they know they are plain wrong!
Can’t we say the same thing with our current crop of leaders as well?
The Prime Minister, Dr.Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, the three supposed powerful politicians remain so deadly silent over the many tragedies the country is talking about, namely, the Bhopal disaster!
They have no reactions, no views and yet they are supposed to lead us!
Now, the Bhopal disaster, the Maoist killings, the latest, the honour killing, two murders the same day in New Delhi!
What are all these developments show and what is our reaction and response? The PM is so incompetent, now can we say?
There are furious criticisms in the media at least by some of the most senior journalists like M.J.Akbar. Akbar uses more stronger and scathing language against the establishment.
Now, suddenly faced with the fury and outrage over the Bhopal gas tragedy, the government has the cheek to reverse overnight the very cunning strategies proposed by P.Chidambaram and now he has the cheek to come out in public and stand for saving the victims!
It was he and one of his colleagues proposed to let off Anderson’s extradition and also let off the Dow Chemicals accepting any liability for the cleaning up and also for paying compensation!
Now, the very same GOM, calls Akbar, the GOM is a clever device to play for the next election, time buying and making people forget the current turmoil!
Now, the Indian tax payers will pay for the cleaning up of the site and also for enhanced payment of compensation!
Yes, the Indian tax payers would pay, they would do so with a more generous heart, provided, and we say the Prime Minister and the Congress party, Sonia Gandhi come before the country and openly apologies for their failures!
They should seek an open pardon of the countrymen for the collective failures of the establishment!
Only then there can be some reconciliation, some healing of the wound. The Indian media utterly failed to live to perform its duty. Only by reading the London Financial Times I could get to know that the dead plant of the Union Carbide, the steel pipe work and cording tanks, the dead poison gas and the dead of the 26-year old day remains still remain fresh in place! There is still a warning board hanging from the control room warning what to do when an alarm bell rings!
So, we have to read foreign newspapers to know what is there in Bhopal, the once lake-side beautiful city now turned into a ghost fit to be turned into a historic memorial like the Nazi gas chamber city, Nazi concentration camps or the Hiroshima atom bomb site memorial, says a victim’s relative!
Even now, the juniors in the government talk and behave as if they have found a solution and a package of relief! They have not.
Now Rs.1, 500 crore for enhanced compensation and another Rs.350 crore for cleaning the site is not the end of the story. It is going to be a long story, a story that was lying in wait to confront the hapless UPA!
The state government under the BJP won’t oblige the Centre. The lean up would take years, it is now estimated it might take 3 years but given the track record of the past it might take more time, may be it might become another Babri Masjid around the neck of the Congress party!
There are other disturbing developments and they give rise to many more moral dilemmas!
The Maoists haven’t disappeared. They are only waiting in wait.
The Maoists need a much more active and competent management.
The other latest khap killings are another challenge for the Indian society.
Where are the women’s groups? What the National Commission for Women is doing?
What the Sonia Gandhi-focused National Advisory Council can do? The NAC should be coming out with some ideas and strategies.
Given the current mood in the national capital and in the states, it is anybody’s guess that the social and government problems can go away so easily or they can be solved by simply sitting quiet and waiting for public memory or public concern might vanish away! Or, other problems crop up to engage public attention.
This is a patently, if we can say so, an unmanly attitude.
Government leadership is all about courage, moral courage and rising up to the occasion. It is time we need a psychological war, warfare!
Push out the cowards from the government. Let democratic process throw up an elected leadership!
That would only bring out the best from the bottom of the pyramid!
Let peoples’ feelings and voices be heard.
Let there be an open season, so to say so that the country would find its equilibrium!