By Dr.K. Javeed Nayeem
What can perhaps be called the greatest show on earth is thankfully over. Yes, the Indian elections qualify to be called that because today we are undoubtedly the world’s biggest Democracy. We may have the United States, a country which is much bigger than ours but it does not have the population to match. And, much closer home, we have China with a greater population than ours but it does not even come close to being called a Democracy !
This article is not about who was good and who was bad in running our Government hitherto or who is most likely to run it best in the years to come. It is not even about whether the outcome of our elections, which we had just yesterday, is going to be good or bad for us. This is my personal view about how dignified we all were across the length and breadth of our country in fighting them. The logistics of managing a gargantuan electoral process is no easy job but we have been doing it admirably well all these years. But mind you, it is only the logistics!
I cannot say the same about the dignity with which we are doing it now. If we can all be completely honest about it for a moment, I’m sure most of you will agree with me that dignity was the most important missing ingredient in our electoral process ! Most of us may have thoroughly enjoyed the verbal boxing match that offered us a ring-side view and much free entertainment over a full two months. But let me point out that after all the mud-slinging that we have indulged in we can only stand more than a little shame-faced before the rest of the civilised world. That is what our behaviour over the past two months has reduced us to…a laughing stock!
It has taken away in a very large measure the glory of how we as an unusually large nation have kept our Democracy alive and well over seventy long years. It has taken away the sheen that we had acquired with our rapid and unmatched progress in fields like education, technology or defence capabilities. I will not include agriculture here as I feel that in this most vital sphere we are not marching as fast as we should to remain self-sufficient to sustain our population which is marching at a faster pace. The fertility in our homes is still clearly greater than the fertility in our fields!
We are actually in immediate danger of becoming a nation that will soon be importing a great deal of its food from other countries at great cost. Over the past few years we have been noticing that as soon as our electoral process starts, our so-called leaders who orchestrate it, start calling each other names. That is the first thing they do. I agree that a lot of propaganda has to go into election campaigning but it does not have to necessarily include outright bad-mouthing.
Our netas do not limit their election speeches to highlighting how efficient or successful they or their parties have been while in power. Our serving and aspiring Parliamentarians do not limit themselves to telling us what they intend to do if given a chance. All their energy is only directed towards telling us how wretched their opponents are in the meanest and most un-Parliamentary language. Long dead souls are dug up from their graves to be crucified. Personal relationships are pulled out of closets of privacy. Charges of misdeeds, often false, are foisted upon all those who can be targeted. Personalities are caricaturised with unusually fertile imaginations.
In short, it is a complete ‘free for all’, not unlike the Roman orgies that we have read about in the pages of history books! And, sadly, it is not just the protagonists in the fray who are guilty of behaving shamefully. We the people, who elect them, too are guilty of a greater crime. The crime of not only encouraging them to come out with their worst behaviour by not only gleefully lapping up the tripe that they dish out but by also asking for more!
Not to be left out and seeming like under-performers our media managers join in with their contribution. While our netas wash their dirty linen in full public glare and put it up to dry our media picks it and holds it up so that the world can have a closer look! It’s all so sickening! Actually speaking, our media has completely lost its faculties of distinguishing between what is news and what is not and deciding what to highlight and what to toss into the dustbin which is its most important prerequisite! Almost every one of our newspapers, over the past few weeks, had devoted nearly four full pages only to tell us who said what about whom. They could get away with this only because we not only relished what they gave us as a test dose but kept asking for more.
The more active, so-called ‘social media’ with which we are all now armed, has turned out to actually be a very ‘anti-social’ media today because it is spreading more hatred than love. Its universal access and the rapidity with which it is capable of spreading news, both true and false, has made it a double edged sword which in the wrong hands can do more harm than good.
And, it is really a crying shame that a great majority of us, including the most enlightened and educated amongst us, are guilty of using it to do more harm than good to our own society and country on which we have to depend for our well-being and survival. It is time that we realised how important it is for every one of us to hold on to our sense of sanity and dignity and showcase only our best to the world around us. Let every one of us strive to ensure that the world gets to see only how civilised and cultured we Indians are, not just by virtue of what we have acquired over the years of our nationhood but more importantly from what we have always possessed because of the rich and ancient legacy of values which over the centuries have impressed, inspired and guided many other cultures across the globe!
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