Different Strokes|Jun 14, 2009 1:51 PM| by:

The Greatest Show on Earth

Recently an article appeared in the New York Times commenting on the “greatest show on earth” – the Indian elections. It was all praise for us, commending our determination despite the odds which are within and without, including disparities in the temperament and nature of governance in neighbouring countries. It spoke about the welcoming nature of this ancient civilization which today has communities, religions, nationalities from all over the world. It also suggested our forwardness by pointing out how many Muslim presidents we have had or how a woman is currently the head of State or how a party leader was from another part of the world. It spoke about how 700+ million, ie 1/10th of humanity, was making all this possible and proving to be an inspiration to the world.

We agree wholeheartedly because yes, India is truly remarkable—her ability to assimilate and integrate are astounding as is her spirit to jump obstacles in an endless race to keep up with the rest of the world. But we must not let accolades coming from western shores hypnotise us. All they see and say is the truth but only a partial truth and attached to it is another story of how many of those 700+ go out to vote under the pressures of coercion, muscle power, sops and material rewards, emotional blackmailing. This is not the ideal for a true democracy. And the show is a sham as long as this falsehood remains within the electoral system. Even our choice in Presidents at the end of the day is a cold calculated affair (this doesn’t mean that those who sit on this most honoured seat don’t always deserve it) where political bickering and compromise play tug & war with ideas like image, credibility, appeasement. How much of it is to do with the progress of the Indian nation is questionable and if it takes place, it’s not by default but as a bonus. This is not cynicism – it’s a bitter pill that we need to swallow after gorging on sweets fed by others.

India is wise and strong and old and determined and resilient and whatnot. But she is also lethargic and hypocritical and shallow and whatnot. Only when we admit to both as part of our nature and turn our darker face to the light can we become truly progressive. Only when we put aside personal gains and put in personal effort can we become truly democratic.

And that is when we will become truly inspirational, making a dent in the world consciousness, instead of just words in a journal, read today, forgotten tomorrow.

  • http://Website Amal Sircar

    I agree with this view but how to make dent in the world consciousness, without changing ourselves? We say something, but do the opposite thing.