What do we call people who do not compromise on their principles, their goals, their passions?
…undemocratic, non-collaborative, stubborn, apolitical or even uncivilised.
Before civilisation started snaring simple humans in its cobweb of civility, man was following his needs and wits to acquire what it needed and nothing more. Gradually, man learnt to create an organised way to meet its needs. He cultivated lands, fished in waters and went on to producing more than what he needed. Leisure resulted and man started to think beyond his needs. Creativity was unleashed beyond the powers of any other species in the animal kingdom. This creativity led to innovations and surpluses for a few while others developed the longing to possess what they did not have. For the fortunate few came other rewards of surplus – education, mobility followed by sartorial & culinary tastes. Innovation, more of a natural gift of the human species finally created a divide between the carpetbagger and the dude.
Yet, the society that emerged as an organisation of human beings was labelled civilised by those who reaped the benefits of surplus. The peasants, the workers at the grind of those innovations and the carpetbaggers were very much part of this civilised society but never enjoyed the fruits of surplus or the said civilisation.
They lived near the underbelly or became the waste of a civilised society – the uncouth, loud, dirty, uneducated, improper – the uncivilised!
The uncivilised aspired for and later demanded their share or right to the fruits of civilisation. The results were ‘Value of work, division of labour’ followed by ‘right to property, capital and profits’. The civilised donned the robes of capitalism that raised the barriers and ante of the un-civilised. The civilised were surrounded by the cacophony of the uncivilised – yelling, screaming and even snapping at them for their survival needs. Yet, we called the entire humanity as a civilisation! Most of the civilised or capitalists learnt fast the trick to keep the uncivilised marginalised yet happy with enough to survive but not demand too much. Doles, social welfare, charity, philanthropy came to roost only to maintain the status quo. Only a few societies were successful in creating enough work at good value to spread the butter wide and relatively thin. Post WW II Germany and France to a lesser extent could be apt examples of the same.
In India, a dudish leadership epitomised by Nehru took over after independence wearing their soft intellectual hearts on their sleeves, a hangover from the freedom struggle led by those like Gandhi who had shed their sartorial tastes in empathy with the peasants, workers and the carpetbaggers. Nehru and his later clones were respected by India, a country largely of peasants and carpetbaggers. The Nehrus and their ilk successfully seduced the uncivilised with their elitist bouquet facilitated by the residual feudal sentiments of the hopeful. Communism was too uncivilised for the Nehruvian pseudos. It did not allow any place for the dudish. Hence, a corrupted version was embraced in the name of Socialism that allowed dudes to flourish, shedding crocodile tears while they languished in their peasant paid entitlements.
Corruption once allowed is impossible to stop from multiplying. Even former Gandhians succumbed to the lure of entitlements that the corrupted offered and the few that revolted were forced into social or political exiles. A few of them went into the business of NGOs. Corruption grows roots and propagates securely in families like AIDS. That is how corruption, politics and dynastic rule came to stay. Corruption and the corrupt are like bees and honey, they survive and multiply in symbiotic orgasms. They find each other without fail and form their own un-civilisation like beehives hanging onto crevices or ledges of the civilised society. Just like beehives hanging from our apartment ledges the corrupt with their dark corruption cling to the peripheries of civilised India and pester us or sting us whenever we try to get rid of them. They protect each other and attack the innocent in hordes just like the spokespersons on national television or the mafiosi. The corrupt in our polity is no less polished, criminal or powerful than the mafiosi in the then Chicago and we too call them politicians. For some, who do transactions with them, they are even introduced as our leaders.
When a braveheart takes it upon himself to get rid of the corruption or the corrupt, his predicament is just like that innocent at our apartment who tried to get rid of the beehives. He was stung all over his face and landed in the hospital for days. For us, he was a hero who tried to save us from the pest that made our lives miserable. We wished him the best and applauded him for attacking the corrupt and the corruption.
But, alas there are many amongst us who are fine to co-exist with the beehives of corruption as long as their façade of civilisation remains intact. They would rather go on with their peaceful and monotonous ant-ish lives than raise their ante.
That is where we live – the AAPka civilised India!
© Amit Chatterjee