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UNCOMMON WEALTH GAMES - Smoke Signals From the Edge

UNCOMMON WEALTH GAMES - Smoke Signals From the Edge

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Published by Subroto Mukerji
India has come far since 1947, but the British masters have been replaced by worse men--cynical, corrupt traitors who instigate the squandering of Rs. 260,000,000,000 of public money just to line their own pockets while millions starve, tarnishing the country's image in the eyes of the whole world !
India has come far since 1947, but the British masters have been replaced by worse men--cynical, corrupt traitors who instigate the squandering of Rs. 260,000,000,000 of public money just to line their own pockets while millions starve, tarnishing the country's image in the eyes of the whole world !

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Published by: Subroto Mukerji on Sep 03, 2010
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12/14/2010

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 Smoke Signals from the Edge
UNCOMMON WEALTH GAMES
Subversion of democracy and the Constitutionis pushing India to the brink of anarchy 
 The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, vigilance not simply against externalaggression but against internal disintegration. But many a nation is suffering
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from the same set of life-threatening diseases; India is just one such country.What has gone wrong?Warning smoke signals are rising right now all over India. They are indicatorsof an overall decline in moral standards, violence in all spheres of life, generalmeltdown in ethical standards, rampant materialism at the cost of scruples,abandoning all sense of decency, justice and fair play, blatant selfishness,general disrespect for elders and women, contempt for law, administrativeimpotence to confront forces of disorder, cynicism and self-service in public life. The indiscriminate infusion of western value systems has given rise to ayouth culture of hedonistic materialism and unbridled consumerism, organizedcrime, violence and religious intolerance. While we can see all these at work inIndia today, the single most important factor,
 prima facie
, for the decline of oursociety is the failure to implement the provisions of the Constitution (as well asthose of The Directive Principles of State Policy) in both letter and spirit,especially in the spheres of individual freedom and communal harmony. Oncethe demon of demagoguery has unleashed the forces of unbridled communalviolence, corruption, nepotism and casteism, it is very hard to rein them in. The tragic events in Gujarat are a case in point. What has brought things tosuch a sorry pass? Looking back at the whole sorry mess, it’s possible that wemay be able to identify the factors that have precipitated this madness if onewere to intellectually distance oneself from events and examine them from ahistorical perspective. That’s resorting to hindsight, true...but isn’t hindsightsupposed to make us alive to the possibility of exercising a little foresight in thefuture? Oughtn’t we to have learnt
something
about the art of governance afterfifty-four years of independence? Chanakya would have torn his hair out at theroots in vexation. Even Machiavelli—much reviled yet much revered—wouldhave winced. Let’s do a quick recap of what has transpired south of the Indusover the last ten millennia. The history of the sub-continent has been a turbulent one for about athousand years, especially since the first Arab invasions of Sind. It was a time—not uncommon in human history—when one civilization clashed with and finallysucceeded in subjugating the other one. It helped that this was a civilizationsteeped in religious lore, spiritually inclined, intent on living and letting live,pursuing happiness at the cist of neglecting the common defence. Under thecircumstances, conquest by a warlike, materialistic invader that swore by thesword was an evolutionarily inevitable process. By the time the Mughal Empirewent into decline after the death of Aurangzeb in the early 18
th
century, Turkishand Mughal rule in India had traumatized the native non-Muslim population,barring the relief given by a few enlightened and tolerant rulers.Subjugation of a rival culture always involves bloodshed (observed far toooften in history to bear elaboration). But economic and cultural warfare can be afar more effective weapon in subjugating another culture. It is of littleconsolation to recall that the vanquished populace was a hardly a stranger to
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violent upheavals and internecine strife. Scattered pockets of resistance—theRajputs and the Mahrattas—had to ultimately sue for peace with the Mughals onhighly disadvantageous terms.But 17
th
century India — if one can at all use what is basically a term thatrefers to a vast geographical expanse rather than a homogeneous politicalentity —was relatively better off under Muslim rule. It controlled 25% of theworld's trade. Vessels from distant counties of Europe paid in gold and silver forIndian handicrafts, muslin, cotton and jute cloth, and silks.Spices were in great demand on western shores from remote antiquity wellinto modern times, and not only because European palates were starved forstimulation. In a region where meat was an indispensable part of the diet, it wasregrettable that it was not only a costly but a perishable commodity whose shelf life could be extended by judicious admixture with spices. But spices were alsovalued because the rich condiments served to conceal the repugnant odourcharacteristic of 'high' meat. This was another way of extending shelf life(besides helping to line the pockets of doctors who specialized in treatingstomach ailments). The British brought the country under a truly alien administration. At thisturning point in the history of the subcontinent, the two rival communities,united for two centuries under a well-entrenched and all-powerful dynasty,could well have buried the hatchet and joined hands to resist a common foe.Alas, it was not to be. Politicians love disparate constituencies that give themclear hegemony in their exclusive spheres of influence. The process continues: observe the continuing fragmentation of India intosmaller and smaller states on specious grounds of autonomy for minority,linguistic or ethnic groups ostensibly for the sake of social justice. What atravesty of the truth! Paradoxically, Gujarat is about the only success story inthis list of new states carved out from bigger states, with Jharkhand andChhatisgarh being prominent examples of the dismal failure to ensure social justice.Hindu Muslim integration on a political platform still lay in the distantfuture. Mischievous elements belonging to the once-subdued culture stillpretend today that they speak for the bulk of a populace which nurses agrievance against the one that had conquered them before the British arrivedon the scene. As any rational observer will appreciate that it would bestretching a point to say that multi-cultural societies do not work (Europe is re-uniting, burying centuries-old hatchets for the sake of harmony, cooperationand mutual benefit. France and England have agreed to share aircraft carriersfor the sake of economy).Sadly, Hindus and Muslims, who had co-existed more or less peacefullyunder the Mughals (especially in Akbar's reign), did not see it fit to rise aboveparochial and religion-based politics and unite against a foe intent on tearingapart the socio-economic fabric of the country.
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