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Monthly Archives: MARCH 2016


Collective conscience BADI CHEEZ HAI
03.03.16 - preet k s bedi
Collective conscience BADI CHEEZ HAI



If ever you had ever wondered what the term ‘collective conscience’ was doing in an earlier judgement, chances are the High Court’s order on Kanhaiya’s bail application has cleared them. Assuming of course that you went beyond Manoj Kumar’s song from Upkaar which Kanhaiya would doubtless have heard with a lump in his throat as he waited to figure out whether or not he was getting bail.
 
Collective conscience badi cheez hai. 
 
It is a recent phenomenon. If it did exist earlier it did so quietly in the courts. Some say it is the democratic equivalent of the rule-by-decree system of justice; the difference being that in this case the decree is issued by blood-thirsty mobs led by media hounds in TV studios. Typically unleashes itself at around 9 every night. Mercifully usually dies a death by the following morning but on the rare occasion it has the power to engineer riots. Or worse.
 
We wear our likes and dislikes on our sleeves and so CC is ridiculously simple to provoke. Random meat in the fridge can do it. Or even in your plate. So can cattle in a truck. Or an inter-faith marriage. Till now anonymous slogan shouting by masked men in virtually pitch darkness had been excluded from the CC roll call of honour. But apparently not so any more. 
 
CC means different things to different people. You and I bay for blood, channels see it as TRPs and political parties see it as a means to achieve social re-engineering. But what it does to genteel upper echelons of the judiciary is charming. Quite in keeping with the broad avenues, bunglas and parks of Lutyens. Sparks their creative side. 
 
Making them break into raptures over Manoj Kumar music to establish without a shred of doubt that their first commitment is to robust nationalism and not Justice which the lady with the scales has traditionally suggested. And indeed worn a band around her eyes to suggest that for her all are equal. With no extra marks for nationalism.
 
And then zig-zags over every possible issue including a lament on how a university has let itself, the nation and the world down and how its students are bent on destroying the wonderful season of spring when flowers are in full bloom in Lutyens. Maybe also in Tihar where the accused have spent three weeks. We really don’t know. They didn’t clarify; we didn’t ask. 
 
And end with a gentle reminder that standing by masked strangers shouting seditious slogans (yet not established btw) could well be gangrene that would require amputation. 
 
Jai Hind.




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Trump, Modi, Trudeau, Kejriwal, Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn. Weird combo? Yes, but there’s a message.
02.03.16 - preet k s bedi
Trump, Modi, Trudeau, Kejriwal, Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn. Weird combo? Yes, but there’s a message.



Arvind Kejriwal, Narendra Modi, Justin Trudeau, Jeremy Corbyn, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders. Is there a message?
 
Whether it is Arvind Kejriwal, unafraid to sit on a dharna even as a Chief minister or Justin Trudeau who has redefined the liberal left as never before or Jeremy Corbyn, Labor MP and Leader of Opposition more frugal than Gandhi, doesn’t own a car and cycles to work or Bernie Sanders, who refused to be drafted for the Army as a conscientious objector or Donald Trump spelling out a right wing agenda which would shame the Klu Klux clan blush or even Modi, a pracharak-politician most of his working life, the message from the voter is clear. 
 
Whichever side of the spectrum he or she may belong to, the voter is tiring of the been there/done that. The boundaries of possibilities have stretched and the mid-zone of lazy, cookie-cutter solution politicians is getting edged out. Voters are looking for bold and interesting solutions from even bolder and more interesting individuals. Boring people no longer interest the voter.
 
Death of the middle-of-the-road is a new phenomenon, coinciding interestingly, with the coming of age of the first social media generation probably signaling a shift from the earlier deal-to-deal politics of the past and signaling a of return of ideology in public life. And since it heralds a new beginning, its success or failure are anyone’s guess. Will Trudeau’s excessive liberalism create a backlash? Would Kejriwal actually be able to implement his socialist agenda in a full-fledged state instead of Delhi where he has very limited powers? What kind of a US will Trump create? Will Modi’s Bharatvarsh evolve differently from the India that he had inherited?
 
Will the austere Corbyn be able to give England a taste of good old socialism? Only time will tell.
 
Almost by definition, middle-of-the-road is a compromise leaving no side completely satisfied. Its success lies in its ability to spread dissatisfaction evenly. That used to be a good solution once but in the age of social media, equal dissatisfaction is no longer an acceptable solution. And with means available to broadcast dissent, and identify like-minded people across the world to create formal and informal pressure groups and convert every cause into a cause célèbre, there is obviously no middle ground.
 
For several years the Mumbai suburb of Mira Bhayandar would order closure of slaughter houses for four days in deference to the Jain festival of Paryushan. In 2015 the community was able to pressure the local corporation to extend the ban to sale of meat as well. This led to a fracas which became the headline news for quite a while. If for one side, simple closure of the slaughter house was not enough, the other side questioned the fairness of the ban to begin with. In the good old days a lightly imposed ban was a good middle-of-the-road solution. But in the surcharged atmosphere of 2015, neither side was willing to accept the middle-of-the-road solution practiced for years.
 
Are extreme solutions here to stay? Are they at all feasible? And if so, will societies integrate or disintegrate? Will they reduce or increase tensions? And how will the typical in-between parties like the Congress adapt? Will they naturally be forced to the extreme left?
 
Or will this new set of people also settle down to life as usual? Dekhte hain.




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