Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Nation of Paradoxes

Written in anguish long back......

Horror of horrors! Our superstar, the global icon who hails from our very own India, has been held by US immigration officials and questioned for two pretty long hours! A country reeling under the siege of the terrible H1N1 virus suddenly threw away everything else and wrung its hands in chagrin and consternation as his eventful landing in US promptly swallowed the front page of a leading newspaper. Swine flu, of course, is very much visible everywhere – right from newspapers to the TV and circulars from the schools reinforcing the need of parents to be responsible enough by not sending sick kids to school to prevent its spread. But then esteemed people with an illustrious acting career and female stars with their flawless faces and huge success in international arena as well as home ground obviously very easily give competition to such a dreadful disease and its hapless victims.
After all, they are the stars who provide us with wholesome entertainment, a brief but sure relief from the mundane, regular, unappetizing news of suicides of farmers, female infanticides, dowry-deaths, child labour, greedy politicians looting the country, lack of infrastructure, millions of fellow countrymen without access to healthcare, poverty forcing fathers to sell off their daughters to feed the hungry mouths of the younger siblings….. It does raise our eyebrows when thousands of tons of wheat rot in the fields of Punjab, our country’s food bowl, while other parts of India wilt under the severe effect of drought.
But then there is the juicy news of a famous handsome cricketer being attacked for a quick kiss and another famous one taking a fancy to a ‘beautiful’ dog, so there is no time to fret and fume over the fate of the mountains of rotting wheat and the starving millions. Anyway we are cocooned in a world of LCDs and Blackberrys and other gizmos and the latest from the fashion world which makes us totally immune to such tragedies being enacted every other day. Such disasters have lost their importance owing to their repeated occurrence over the years and the stark truth that the poor don’t even know what rebellion is. We read about them and go back to our work sighing that destiny invariably doles out such punishments to the illiterate underprivileged masses. And we continue to love the winners and their news.
The terrorists are a rare exception, though, who hold the court every time they strike and do not have to jostle for space anywhere, whether it’s the TV or the newspaper or the office corridors or crowded trains and buses, no matter what else happens in the world. They are not loved but their news is devoured with great gusto. Maybe for the element of a certain kind of suddenness about a terrorist attack and our helplessness in its face, the same reasons for which swine flu has been hogging the limelight ever since its unholy appearance.
We love the bold, the beautiful, the rich, the successful. We idolize the ones who make it to the front page of the dailies by dint of their power or wealth or both. We dream of emulating their lifestyle someday. We equate success to greatness. We mistake fame for achievement. The countless hungry mouths quickly fade away.

India’s conscience no longer wakes up to paradoxes that thrive in plenty in our country.

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