GRADED OPENING seems to have infused a renewed value in the small pleasures of life. Like meeting old friends over coffee for the Sunday adda. Having taken these things for granted, you realise that Zoom is a poor substitute for in-person meetings. Some intangibles go missing when you peer through the small Apple screen with half-a-dozen blurred faces waiting to chime in simultaneously and thus producing a confusing chatter. I will rather be at my noisy, argumentative adda any day, even if seating is reduced by half and you are expected to wear the ubiquitous mask at all times. Last time we met, out of the blue, a fellow pronounced the beginning of the end of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). His reasoning was simple: the loss of West Bengal and the lashing of the second coronavirus wave may have sealed the fate of the ruling party. Even the rural folks might be in an unforgiving mood, what with bodies of their kith and kin floating in the Ganga for want of a dignified cremation. Yours truly vehemently countered, citing history, to enforce the point. Despite an estimated 13 million perishing to the Spanish Flu in India a century ago, and 2-3 million falling victim to the man-made Bengal Famine in 1943, Indians refused to rise in revolt against the British. More recently, despite the Sikh massacre in 1984, in which officially more than 3,000 were killed in cold blood on the streets of the national capital alone, the community as a whole hardly changed its voting behaviour. In other words, the voter rarely, if at all, enforces accountability. If that were so, there would have been a change of Government every election beginning with the one in 1957, since all parties fail to deliver on promises. And if the Indian voter holds destiny, which for him is obviously predetermined at birth, responsible for his lot, or is most forgiving towards politicians, how do you explain his American counterpart who, despite the gross mishandling of the pandemic, very nearly re-elected Donald Trump for another four-year term? Notably, four lakh Americans died due to the virus under Trump’s watch. Yes, just like the post-Emergency 1977 election when nasbandi and no regard for civic freedoms and the founding statute caused the downfall of the Indira-Sanjay duo. But even in that election, the supposedly far more literate south India still gave the duo 150 seats, fully ignoring the trampling of the Constitution. Truth be told, no General Election has punished the rulers for their acts of omission and commission. Besides, here was the clincher, where is the opposition to capitalise on the failings of the current regime. Yes, where?
THE DEATH OF Jesuit priest Stan Swamy, 84, is saddening. He died in Mumbai’s Holy Family Hospital while still in detention due to his involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon case. Despite repeated appeals in the highest courts, he did not get bail, a fact which the left-liberal elements fail to appreciate. Mind you, even the ouster of BJP from the Maharashtra government did not result in bail for the accused. Because the reasons for detention were most pressing. For the left-liberal criers, a cursory reading of Swamy’s own blueprint for insurrection against the elected authority might prove sobering. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) chargesheet, inter alia, quotes the mastermind of the plot suggesting forging of a front of Dalits and Muslims, imparting them training in guerrilla warfare and setting them upon the established authority. In one of the documents, he proposes that the revolutionary front wage war at the village, small town and city levels to destabilise the established order. The chargesheet also details initial funding received by the priest for the diabolic anti-India plot. Those shedding tears at the alleged maltreatment of Swamy, though his lawyer said he received the best medical assistance, need to be less Pavlovian in their ways and a little more balanced in their mindset.
HOW FAR CAN the cancel culture warriors go to rid the world of inequities and injustices of the past? Well, it seems there is no limit to the craziness that has erupted like a rash on Western campuses. The other day, I noticed that even a well-regarded American wire news service had fallen prey to the wasteful revisionism. Sometime ago, in its stylebook it advised writers to avoid using the word “mistress” because it implied “the woman is solely responsible for the affair”, while there was no male equivalent for it. A veritable Twitterstorm erupted, with some suggesting adulterer, another mister-ess, another paramour, home-wrecker, and so on. Be that as it may, the tilting at the old statues, vandalising ancient texts, classic films and literature should not be the end of the cancel culture. How about the colonial powers paying reparations to their former subjects? That will be something worthwhile if the votaries of the cancel movement are true to their avowed aspiration of erasing the myriad inequities and injustices inflicted by their forefathers.