The world has moved fast, since the first flight of the Sputnik till our curiosity landed on Mars. History has hurtled through narrow and wide lanes, defied gravity, shunned bullets, braved winds and torrential rains to enter the present – tired, worn out, tattered – and yet, we can’t shut our doors to it, just as we can never shut our doors to love, life, joy or sadness.
So, as we open our doors to this timeless pauper, she tells us the story of time.
It’s a story of countless books, of countless songs, countless lives, countless deaths, seasons, revolutions, trials, discoveries, inventions, wars, treaties, paintings, guitars, mandolins, poetry, declarations, bazaars, languages, glaciers, rivers, forests, birds, empires, kings, leaders, universities, anthologies, salt, pepper, suicides…
The stories rising from the deepest void and the darkest smoulder, the stories of man’s eternal search for meaning.
India at 65
A million experiments are underway at any given point of time; all kinds of magic and mystery keep appearing and reappearing before our eyes, and it’s easy to be seduced by a new kind of knowledge everyday, by new frameworks and new canons.
“The original idea of India also rested somewhere out there, where seeds of social equality were sown on the firm and fertile grounds of a committed socialist discourse.”
But sadly, the more we have tried to radicalize ourselves, the more we have tried to denounce old canons, the more we have tried to reconfigure ourselves, we seem to have fallen again and again into the same traps, same patterns of inter-relationships, same power equations, where the numbers of oppressed have kept growing.
Poverty remains, inequality remains, casteism remains, oppression remains, and every organised movement (that we know of) to combat these, have proved to be grand failures, be it the so called anti-corruption brigade, the Dalit activism, the Maoist uprising, the ‘youth for equality’ outfit, the slut walks and pride marches, the Kashmiri movements, the left movement or the electoral processes; they have all revealed such gaping holes in their basic premises, that their very raison d’etre have slipped through them, and every grand celebration of democracy, secularism and sovereignty has been reduced to an oxymoron.
There is such an immense dichotomy between the India of haves and have-nots that the dialectics of change need to be thoroughly re-examined, redefined and re-imagined. And instead of losing ourselves into the post-modern capitalistic discourse of no meta-narratives, and directionlessly building new, frail and fragmented frameworks everyday, there’s a definitive need to re-establish a more universal framework of social justice.
The Project of Modernity
One of the leading philosophers and sociologists of our times, Jurgen Habermas has called modernity an ‘unfinished project’ which has tremendous potential for human emancipation, and that we could arrive at a more humane, just and egalitarian society through realising our full potential for reason and rational discourse.
The original idea of India also rested somewhere out there, where seeds of social equality were sown on the firm and fertile grounds of a committed socialist discourse. Much of that ground has been lost and eroded over the years, and the only way it can be restored is through copious amounts of empirical research, taking into account everyone and everything, from the most obscure and faraway to the most obvious and the closest – by creating endless reams of statistics, all kinds of charts, formulas, graphs to arrive at rational, logical conclusions.
New, faraway, obscure words; tired, old, word-out words; unknown fears; known enemies; a schizophrenic’s dreams, a poet’s dreams, a rioter’s memories, a victim’s memories, ideas, imaginations of every kind: Adil’s poetry from Bhatiar Galli of Gujarat, Shyamali Khastagir’s diaries from Jadugoda, the number of people who died in Manipur, Gujarat, Kashmir, number of skeletons found in Kalinganagar, the number of jobless, homeless, songs of Bant Singh, the shoe of Jarnail Singh, and the shoe-less feet of so many school going children…everything should be collected, nothing should escape the diaphanous nets of this project, which would ultimately chart for us, the outline for a new revolutionary role.
The new dialectics
From new revolutionary standpoints shall emerge new movements and newer dialectics. Smaller changes would continuously progress and transform into bigger and better changes. The deep void and the smoulder would still remain, but history would progress on more dialectical, meaningful terms.