Tuesday, June 15, 2021

“Right” to blame?

Despite traversing from an isolated tribal society, based on a subsistence economy, to the post-liberal, post-capitalist and post-modern 21st century, in quite a short span of about one-and-a-half centuries, we still live in a feudalistic milieu. So however much we may protest about our age-old egalitarian credentials, we remain subjects ~ not citizens. We are diffident to, and fearful of, power, wealth and status. Inversely, power, wealth and status are arrogant, condescending and dismissive towards us. This two-way traffic between the majority of the masses and the minority power, wealth and status is unbalanced and highly tilted towards the latter. Because we have not emerged fully from this feudalistic milieu, we remain under-developed in every sense of the word. In fact, our under-development is compounded due to the mis-match between our feudalistic milieu and today’s existential realities. It would be convenient to state that power, wealth and status are arrogant, condescending and dismissive towards us ~ because our votes are on sale denoting our commodification ~ therefore we are under-developed but that would be too simplistic an explanation by itself. Perhaps the reasons lay in our traditional societal hierarchal systems and structures, over which alien societal hierarchal systems and structures were superimposed further empowering our traditional nucleus of power, wealth and status. So, if we scratch the surface we will find that our traditional societal hierarchal systems and structures remain intact and the same forces have assumed modern avatars of power, money and status. Barring a few exception, we may notice that the lineage of power, wealth and status remain unbroken. Simultaneously, entering into the modern government system introduced by the British and continued by Independent India ~ either by election or selection ~ has empowered some in our society people with enormous power, wealth and status ~ thereby a new class emerged. Unfortunately, this news class hasn’t and couldn’t rid the yoke of the feudalistic milieu thereby perpetuating it and therefore even in the post-Statehood era, the class of power, wealth and status continue to be arrogant, condescending and dismissive towards the people ~ underscoring a different level of insensitivity. And, the people continue to be diffident to, and fearful of, power, wealth and status ~ accentuating another level of ignorance. Over the decades, these dynamics have been playing out very clearly in our continual under-developed status and the persistent violations of our human, constitutional and developmental rights. The pandemic has magnified our feudalistic milieu and its corollaries even more. That the Church, social, tribal, women, youth and community non-government organizations have to step in to bridge the wide chasms created by Government somnolence, apathy, inactivity and non-performance in the constitutional mandated matters of life and death ~ of survival itself, gasping for air ~ speaks volumes of the aforesaid postulations of our feudalistic milieu and the mindset thereof. Then, one side advocates technological solutions for education, the other side experiences infrastructural bottlenecks of ramshackled school buildings without adequate teachers, running water, toilets, books, libraries, laboratories, etc. Crores are said to be spent on health infrastructures and human resources but the pandemic accentuates their inadequacies ~ so individuals and collectives have to fill in the gap. Donations and contributions of COVID essentials, including food, and published acknowledgements thereof, have become PR exercises and photo ops ~ totally negating the constitutional and moral obligations of the Government. And the masses are happy with some bread crumbs and fish skeletons ~ as much as the evanescent ‘elections incomes’ that depletes public funds, is antithetical to the concept of “greater good”,  putrefies developmental fruits, compromises societal future, ensures mis-governance and hinders nation-building. The feudalistic milieu creates a vicious cycle and circle of poverty, ignorance, myopia and obstructions towards dignified life and living. Our systems and structures of power, wealth and status also empower the blaming and shaming of the masses and the masses accept it as their destiny. Therein lays our tragedy. Therein lays the reason(s) why our political classes, bureaucrats and anyone in positions of governmental and non-governmental power and its concomitants unhesitatingly blame and shame the people for everything. “High COVID death rate is due to delayed seeking of medical help” for instance ~ as if there are no other reasons of commission and omission by those who assume the “right” to blame the people. Worse still, the people’s silence at such blaming and shaming emboldens the “powered”. Now, how do the masses take back their power in a democracy shackled in a feudalistic milieu?