Sep 24, 2008
When the news of a Noida CEO being lynched trickled in, a colleague remarked, “Marx might be happy to see India today. It’s a throwback to the days of mill workers going against their bosses. Socialist revolution, eh?” It was a remark made in context of the current scenario across India. Public anger is finding its way on to the streets more often than ever before. And its anger no more. Its mob fury. The war between the economic classes is out in the open.
Singur is a case in point. The mighty Tatas have been forced to reconsider their decision to roll out Nano from there. All thanks to consistent and unbending protests by the locals. Keep aside the politics of it. Things have come to such a state that in Maharashtra the government went for a referendum on whether a Reliance SEZ should be started. The hitherto quiet ‘aam aadmi’ is becoming more and more assertive and in some cases violently so.
There is a simmering anger in the air. And we journalists face it all the time when we are out on our daily stories. Be it the bad roads, the non existent power supply or the corrupt system. Everyone we meet is disgruntled. A middle aged man, who lives in a chawl, recently asked me to take up a gun and shoot the rich living in the towers, since he was too old for it! Go to any village, any so called remote locality, you will find hundreds of people angry at the fact that they belong to the have nots. And why would they not be? There is a whole generation living not far away from them which is only debating about whether to buy an iPhone or a GPhone; while these people do not know what they would eat that night. It is a disturbing trend and one can only dread the day when the full fury will be unleashed.
But its an anger that can be channelised. And politicians, terrorists and religious fanatics have realized this long ago. While one uses it to smash taxis and target celebrities, the other uses it to kill innocents. The motive of each of them is the age old ‘divide and rule’. And that is why we have ‘anti-North’, ‘anti-South’, ‘anti anything but us’ everywhere. ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ was never so specific before. What else can one say when a district like Azamgarh which produced revolutionaries like the great poet ‘Iqbal’ is now being called the home of terrorists. Azamgarh has always been right of center, only now the anger seems to be misdirected.
Issues, issues, issues everywhere. And in the name of solutions, all we see are allegations and counter allegations. So one cant really blame the common man who travels in a jam packed train compartment, drives over potholes, lives through the darkness of power cuts, gives up his land for ‘development’, gets sacked because his salary is a ‘cost to the company’, believes in the politician/terrorist/religious leader who tells him all his problems are because of the ‘others’. The definition of the ‘other’ changes from person to person. But the anger doesn’t. And that is why every other day, someone is beaten up, some office is ransacked, some religion targeted. And it will continue till the ‘other’ is living within us.
No. I don’t think Marx will be happy. In fact, he would be seriously disappointed that while the revolutionary vision he so wanted the masses to have is yielding results at some places, at others it is directed at self destruction!