By Ananya S Guha
Is a people’s movement possible in India or anywhere in the world? By this I mean the power of the people not to ‘elect’ political bodies or representatives but to select. To select matters, opinions, to select a lifestyle not inimical to public interest. To select the people they want at the helm of affairs and to select what they want overall for public good and prosperity. To select what they want to ameliorate sufferings and poverty. To select modes of transport. To select how they want to be educated both in formal and non-formal ways.
In a country as diverse and ridden with poverty and illiteracy as India, the vote bank is an exploitative means to further short term ends. It is a repository to divide on the basis of language, caste and religion. The very diversity which is a cultural strength is used to weaken, debilitate the functioning of a nation. How does a nation function? It functions through the good will of its people. But once the goodwill is broken then it stops functioning mentally, spiritually and psychologically. Once the seeds of discontent are sown then the body of a country stagnates and withers. And this is how politicians of a country use the strength of diversity to divide and make it corrosive, ultimately enfeebling it. The very strength of a country through a pluralistic outlook divides. It is easy to do that. Just rouse up emotions: language, religion and caste. Just play on otherness: you and me.
Elections and voting time are clever times for rousing such sentiments. Go to pockets which have majority and minority. Such divisions are spelt out; they spasmodically let forth divisions. So you have linguistic divisions, religious divisions, other backward classes and so on.
How about a selection method? What will I do for the people in terms of education, in terms of health, in terms of the differently-abled and street children?
And choices to select and not elect people can be multiple in terms of preference. So we have choice number one, two, three, etc. Yes, we select not elect. We have selections not elections. We have no political parties but goodwill bodies who will think of the common good not divisively but wisely. Can we do that and subvert tradition, the kind of tradition that has brought money power and crass division in its wake?
And in such a selection, we must keep away technology. We must keep it separate. Technology which is supposed to spawn education is spawning rumours, hatred and false news. The selection process must have one to one meetings and discourse, not the technology malfeasance that we witness today.
We must invest in such technology only to advice, interact and suggest. Not to slander. Can we do it? We can do everything if we think of the masses and not of the classes, if we keep in mind the vote for goodwill, public interest and poverty. The vote for poverty means the focus on it and lifting it from its morass.
Let us then select and elect accordingly. Select people to rule not by the whims and instigation of others but through our own conscience. A little light. Then think of this amorphous country as a unified entity irrespective of the language we speak or the religion we profess. That is private. What is public is my country, its history, polity and even geography.
The peoples’ movement will then entail an overall prescience and a discarding of the present. It will have a holistic if not messianic vision of the country. Where there is no vision there is darkness! Bit by bit they are teaching us to lose this vision they are putting the beatific behind the malefic. And this introduces the rot. Let us stem it.
Who are these people? The people of India – diverse, plural, multi-ethnic and multi-linguistic yet sharing commonalities in terms of culture, religion, language and even geography. Let geography and history merge. Let true culture hoot out the vulture. That only a united and frontal people’s movement can do. Just as good money drives out bad money, let good people drive out bad people. Yes by selection and by the overarching ‘ethics’of ‘politics’.
This will be the People’s Movement.
Have we forgotten Gandhi, or do we simply and plaintively mouth his name?
Ananya S Guha is Regional Director, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Shillong.
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