Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Option of Choice

Sorry, if I seem to be repetitive. Apparently the heading does seem to be so with option and choice being synonyms of each other as far as their applicability goes. But given the context of the text to follow, I couldn’t come up with any other but this.

In the next 72 hours the electioneering would be over and in the subsequent 72 hours the whole nation, err, the whole world shall know of the outcome. Though the world will not be waiting with as much bated breath, as we shall be, being the direct guinea pigs of our rulers.

In keeping with my earlier blogs, I again reiterate, that we have many leaders but very few who can truly lead the nation. Ruling and leading are different aspects of different coins, contrary to regular belief that they constitute two faces of the same coin. We couldn’t have had a better demonstration of the proverb, “too many cook spoil the broth”.

I think the nation never faced such a dilemma called the right to vote. I call this a dilemma, because we have too many options. And in most of the constituencies, the candidates don’t suffer from a stirring soul, egging them to serve the people and the nation. So whom do we vote for? Truly “national” leaders are so sparse in number that we are made to suffer the “ tragedy of excess of bad options”. But since the “democracy” has to be honoured(!) we cannot abstain. If we abstain, we shall be deemed irresponsible, indifferent and ungrateful to the honour levied on us of choosing and forming the Government thus indirectly.

That leaves us with only one option, to vote and to vote for the “lesser evil”; because it is not the question of choosing the best candidate but preferring the bad to the worse. This implies that the foundation of the election is based on enforcing a decision on the citizens, which is purely based on “compromise”. And if this was not enough, the parties boasting their superior ideologies over their, pre-poll “rival” parties, shall definitely shun their differences and forge an alliance which will put us to further shame. The parties will play martyr stating that they are burying their differences at the cost of “sacrificing” their ideologies all for the sake of us: “We, the people”.

To sum it up, the democracy will be made to survive by serving on a platter option of choice which leaves us with no option but to choose not the best person, always, but generally, the bad from the worse.

Sushmita Mukherjee,
10th May, 2009

With Whom the Accountability Rests

Having taken ample time to regroup and articulate my thoughts, I am ready now with the answer, to a gentle question posed to me by a person with respect to my blog, “Independence”. The question was, are we ourselves not responsible for the situation we are in? Because it is “We, the people”, who send the people to represent us in the Parliament.
Well, this statement is only partially correct, as I perceive it. So it is not necessary that my views represent those of my fellow human beings. I on my part shall try to explain the cause of this view of mine. Being a teacher has this serious pitfall: trying to explain everything, considering this whole Universe to be a huge classroom with all fellow mates as students! I am sorry for that.

First thing that drew me towards this perception is the fact that nature has a way of creating opposites for everything. Each event has its positives and negatives. Even, whether science is a boon or a bane has been an issue of a raging debate from time immemorial.
It is true for democracy in its classical format as well. The electorate, i.e., the mass, is empowered to choose who will run the country for five years. But, whether the persons or the party that is elected will “run the country” or “rule the people”, is not known to the largely unenlightened electorate. Even in this age, our country has a high illiteracy. Though shamelessly, the people concerned boast of an improved literacy rate. I ask, is it sufficiently high and in direct variance to the rate of increment in population? Unfortunately, no. So basically a vastly uneducated electorate has been given the job of electing the parliamentarians. This I say not to demean my fellow nationals, but one cannot deny the truth. Since these people don’t understand what politics is (anyway it is a difficult proposition for educated people as well!), the parameters that they have for deciding in favour of a particular candidate is not in keeping with his/her worthiness. To them high profile campaigners from the glamour world or good looking people suffice. If a candidate can pull off a coup, in the form of getting such campaigners having a mass appeal, they are through to the “hot seat” of the parliament. Though this is not true for all, but is so for a very high percentage of our leaders. So with the inflating population and inadequate literacy rate, the “servants of the nation” are reaping the harvest of power from this “Demographic dividend”! And thus craving for absolute power. Greed is self-perpetuating.

Then I take of the second class of people, those who have been fortunate to get a formal education. I think that includes me too! Please don’t feel that this is a divisive approach of mine: creating “we” and “they”. It is not. The valid question then is, are we totally powerless? What are we doing then? Why can’t we change the outcome?
We can, only if we could know what runs inside the brain of these “servants of the nation”. Every time the performance of a “ruling party/parties is/are found inadequate enough to bring a change, those party/parties is/are voted out of power. In lieu of them we select some others. But alas, the outcome turns out to be the same. We keep continuing in the same boat. Their policies might differ but their agenda doesn’t, which is to rule. So rule shall they, while having managed to get the “mandate”. So where are we going wrong? We try to bring about the improvement by opting for change, keeping the credentials of the person/s we choose, in mind. But our perceptions are made to look wrong. But each time we can’t be wrong. It is too frequent an occurrence not to generalize that power corrupts a person powerfully. It has been rightly said, “absolute power corrupts a person, absolutely”. There is no conformity between what the political parties preach and practice. What they promise before the elections, forget them quite conveniently afterwards. And we falter, going by their promises while taking the decision, to choose or reject a particular person to represent us.
Blame cannot be placed on us, thus, entirely.

The third factor is the way the elections are conducted. Though I totally agree that technology has only and only improved the whole process of electioneering with the introduction of the EVM’s (Electronic Voting Machines) and issuing of voter identity cards, still, even the Election Commission wouldn’t deny the still continuing unfair means. With the onset of a new disease, medicines are discovered for its cure, so is with the advent of the new means of voting methods; ways to defy it and tamper with it have too been scripted. Our nation is a treasure trove of talent, but alas, they are being misused.

These are the reasons working in tandem to lead to the prevailing sorry sate of affairs, a very negative example of “unity in diversity”. Parameters are all diverse in nature but when integrated, generate a “Democracy”, which is nothing but basically a slap on the face of Democracy.

Then who is/are to be held actually accountable for the ongoing system?

None can bring in the winds of change alone. Just as this statement is true so is the fact that we as individuals can’t wash our hands completely from the issue. We can at least give the issue a tweak. So I being a person like most of fellow nationals, who loves the country dearly, can put forth some suggestions in my minuscule capacity.

To counter the first factor of the inadequately educated electorate and thus armed with improper acumen, to carry out the responsibility of electing the correct person, there can be two ways:
(i) Educate them in the right sense of education. Mere literacy with respect to knowledge of the Roman or Devnagri scripts is insufficient for the purpose.
(ii) If that is not possible then bring in the required changes in the Constitution wherein “age” shall not be the sole criterion for exercising the voting rights.

I am daring to ask for an amendment in the Constitution. Because if (i) is not possible, then (ii) has to be executed to honour the words, “We, the People” that have been so proudly scripted in the Preamble to the Constitution, to proclaim the intellectual caliber of the citizens. Instead of considering a burgeoning populace, educated or not, as a source of “Demographic dividend”, we need to respect them and their right to be properly educated and claim for good, if not great, governance.

As to the second and third factors, we need divine intervention!
The third factor, recognizing the unfair means and unfair persons, prays to the Almighty for outnumbering such people with persons of integrity.
The second factor asks specifically for divine vision to penetrate through the illusions that are created by the parties prior to the elections. We crave to see what we are not made to see, hear what is not said. Only then can we take the right decision.
For once “ being disillusioned” shall become a positive word! I look forward to the day when the citizens of the country will get their due. When truly their needs will be given a serious look-in and the country will be loved as much by “all” the “servants of the nation” as is done by “We, the People of this Nation”.

Sushmita Mukherjee
4th May, 2009


Who is an independent person? Rather what is meant by independence?

Well, the dictionary meaning enumerates the following conditions for being independent:
i) free from outside control or influence,
ii) self-governing,
iii) having enough money to support oneself,
iv) not connected, separate.

The meaning, the exact one I know is known to all. It is true that it was not required by me to enlist them. But I did that on purpose. Anyway, we as human beings need reasons for doing even simple things. And however the simple the job might be, the reason needs to be forcefully compelling to gather momentum and urge and provide thus, the required driving force. Because irrespective of the level of difficulty of the job, one thing that needs to be overcome is the word and phenomenon described by Newton. That is inertia!
In my case also, these opening lines served as the launching pad for what I intend to write. It gave the required time to regroup my thoughts; otherwise it is too easy to fall prey to deviation via digression from the actual topic of concern.

After thinking quite a bit about what should I write in my second blog, I stopped at this thought. I could have chosen from any of my quotable quotes (yes, I do have as this was my initial hobby), but given the mood I am in right now, this was the most appropriate. Also I had to take into consideration the intellectual gentry who frequent this site.

So quite clearly my decision-making depended upon a few things, however pertinent they might be to the situation. The fact remains that the final decision was not an instantaneous one. It was not self alone, who took the decision. The various aspects that go on inside one’s brain were the influential aspect. I am sure all of you will be in contradiction to my views as the various thinking modes and aspects of an individual’s are generally taken to be mutually inclusive giving in totality the person his/her personality. But herein I tend to differ. To me they are mutually exclusive. Every fibre of one’s being is just like a “dx” which when integrated gives the final picture of that person, physical as well as intellectual.
In that context, it was not an independent decision, though this view is in direct contradiction to the parameter (i) and more in line with parameter (iv). Can’t be helped. It is my own and indigenously independent!

Incidentally, this blog is not being written in defiance to the dictionary. I am too small a person to even think of that. What I intend to do is, write what I “feel” about the word. The ethos of the word. The hidden implications that tugged at my heart where it was relayed by my various hyperactive nerves.
I beg to be forgiven for the physiological inaccuracy.

Now to come straight to the point, are we independent in the strictest of senses? The question we keep asking ourselves is how much independent are we? Given the situations around us we are bound to introspect in that line. There is nothing wrong with that. Rather very natural. Though this question means we are trying to quantify independence. Is it a measurable quality? Once we try to do so, which we are inadvertently doing, we undermine independence.

But independence has been subject to abject stampede.
Prove me wrong. None of us is independent. 15th of August, 1947 has been our theoretical independence. Independence from merely the British rule. This I say with all regards to our leaders. But isn’t it true that “this” independence doesn’t even spare a moment of gracious remembrance to all who laid down their lives to free our nation from the British rule. Those days were and are considered days of oppression. I don’t deny that, but then in lieu of that, what have we got? Proxy independence. Foreigners ruled us then and now we are being ruled by the selfish designs of some people. Our freedom fighters, fought for a better India, but I am saddened to state that it is God’s grace that they didn’t live to see this independent India, which I am sure they didn’t envisage. Had it been so not only they would have been disillusioned, there is every likelihood of them falling prey to the bullets of a fellow countryman. If not that, then by an external perpetrator who could be active only because of the help from insiders. Those insiders, I am not stating that they help by their own volition. True, they are at times forced to do so, with otherwise promised dire consequences. But, frighteningly and shamefully this help comes generally in lieu of money. Greed, people prefer to patriotism. They rebuff the term, ‘traitor’, both in terms of its existence and ethos. And quite disgracefully, there is not dearth of such people.

The fallout of this increasing number of unethical people is the turbulent times we are in. Isn’t it true that everyday we are thankful to the God for saving us from unnatural fate? Don’t we move from our house with quite an amount of apprehension as to what awaits us around the corner? Bombs or bullets? The friendly neighbourhood seems to be camouflaging innumerable unseen disasters. Is it independence? It hurts because we are “supposedly” a sovereign democratic republic, as mentioned in the constitution. This is hypocrisy to the infinity.
Why? Simply because, the prevailing environment that has been forced upon us. How “Sovereign” are we then? It has become so easy for handful of evildoers to pump into our country, God knows, how many hundreds of negative elements which are one of our principal ailments.
The less we talk of the term “Democracy”, the better. It was meant to “for the people, by the people and of the people”. By “the people”, it was meant the common people, in the form of their chosen representative. Yes, people are ruling but only those who are in a powerful position by virtue of, lesser virtues. “Netas” have become more powerful than the cause they represent. This is not democracy. Rather a form of “collective autocracy”.
To come to the last but not the least, “Republic”, I shan’t go to the depths of it. Too much of complications involved and likelihood of many ruffled feathers. Though I too being a part of the common public, don’t feel much flutter would be created. Who cares about the views of “general” citizen? But still, since I am it I have to air my views on “republic”. In one word, there couldn’t be a bigger sham.

Thus we are not what we claim to be. We are presenting to others an illusory idea. Who is to be held responsible for depriving us of the various fundamental rights mentioned in the constitution? Who is responsible for this insecure security of the nation? We are truly hostages of hypocrisy, greed, dishonesty and non-integrity
To me it is not the glory of our “Independence” but the ignominy of a “Life In Dependence”

Sushmita Mukherjee
28th April, 2009

The First Step

Hi!I've been blogging on the indiatimes' blogsite since April,2009. And as everybody else, the reason behind my blogging is the urge to be heard. Also in doing so try to bring about changes, even if to the slightest of extents.

These wishes can't be fulfilled: more so with the "being heard" part, otherwise, even though we are citizens of an independent and democratic nation. This can be only done through posting views as blogs: newspapers too first look for very heavy credentials of the writer and then use their discretionary powers as to allow or forbid the publishing of thoughts of "normal citizens".

Thus began my journey on the blog path.

Now as I am on the verge of my first anniversary on this path, the urge to reach out to a larger cross-section of readers and reformists as also the recommendation of my blog friends made me to join the blogspot family as well. The more the merrier!

So herein I shall be posting my blogs that are already there on the other site, in addition to the fresh additions which would follow subsequently. The dates they were actually written I won't be editing because they bear testimony to the time the thoughts were chronicled first.

Hope to be useful through my blogs, even if in a minuscule way.

I look forward to having a great time in this family and hope you too enjoy my entry in to the family of blogspot.

With best wishes and warm regards to all,

Sushmita Mukherjee