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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Anderson is not the Bhopal villain...

The media has started its regular damage of looking for a hero or a villain post Bhopal verdict. Anderson is a convenient face. But in their hurry to portray someone as a villain for every perceived and real disaster that the country faces, the commit the same mistake of sacrificing sense for sensationalism. 

We are the real villains of Bhopal. 

To continue to place our hopes on a judiciary that has failed repeatedly to dole out justice, particularly against the powers of the day; to continue to put up with a government that relaxes every rule of the land for accommodating corporate expansion and multinational profiteering; to give our homes for paltry compensation so that roads can be expanded and their loot can be carried away, to sacrifice our claim on our environment as a living culture and lineage so that someone can convert it as a natural 'resource' to be exploited and profited from, to continue to put up with the executive that bends backwards to every foreign delegate with blood in their hands, to put up with corporate heads who sermonize on the virtues of foreign investment and try and buy out or silence every dissenting voice through pilanthropic  'development' and 'progress' programmes...we have become so insensitive that we can put up with all this and admire and defend our own 'resilient' nature and carry on. Aren't we the villains? 

Watched the movie, 'Wednesday' recently in which the protagonist common man at one point tells the police commissioner, 'we are resilient by force and not by choice', how long would it take for the citizens of Bhopal to breakdown the building that houses their High Court? How long will it takes for those who sympathize with the victims and are generating several heated debates across the country in the last few days if they put their hands together to pull down the law ministry or supreme court in Delhi? 

But, we don't resort to violence as we are not tuned to it, it is not in our nature.. Violence is not in our nature as a response, we are a non-violent (not necessarily translate to 'peaceful') people, but, practitioners of non-violence deserve a more sensitive government, something the hard headed Congressmen have never been able to understand. Our governments have managed to relegate all forms of non-violent protests to some corner and a insignificant entertainment. Gandhi could hold a fast to protest in a central location in a slave nation and the world can await on the sidelines, in the free country he would be asked to do it in the remotest part of the city/town or village and the state would ensure that no one knows of it through the control of the media. The media will gladly give repeated space for throwing petrol bombs and shoot out incidents than peaceful protests. It is violence and noise centric and cannot appreciate silence nor peace.

So, we the non-violent villains continue to write petitions, group around and debate the issues among those whom we are comfortable with, sign online petitions and write comments and blogs (like this) to vent our outrage at such occurrence and at the most resort to some token form of protest. Maybe some like Arundathi Roy end up justifying the violence of Maoists with their anger. But, violence cannot be a scaled up response in India, you cannot get a nation of a billion plus people to become violent at one go and change the system, that is impractical and the Maoists will fail. 

But, the anger is already reached a scale and without adequate strong mediums of expression it is leaching into the psyche as acceptance of violence by a  majority, this will be dangerous. Acceptance of violence as a response cannot be divorced from understanding of ethical behaviour, but, people may not want to practice ethics with the State, after all, it has no stakes in the ethics of the people nor has it ever recognized or acknowledged it. 

Most practice their non-violent anger through any act of subverting the State that they can indulge in without being affected (and if they can also benefit, even better), so, we evade tax, violate traffic rules, throw garbage everywhere, scribble our names in monuments protected by the State and in a million ways express to the state our willingness to degenerate our own existence and thereby the Nation, acceptance of degenerated society of the country by the majority is the sign of a unhappy people. It is no different from acceptance of violence in an otherwise non-violent society. 

If violence as a power is accepted by large numbers without practising it, those who are capable of practising and their directions may find easy ground in society. The groups that foment violent responses are already finding fresh grounds.   

Political change is a tool of peaceful response, but, political change without courage to change the system of ineptitude is useless. Executive powers could change (thanks to the long gap, a retired CBI man has actually confessed that they went soft on Anderson because of government intervention, this must be happening in several cases even now and we may never know), but, changing them without the change in their orientation and priorities will be useless too. Judiciary can change, instead of conducting tours to remote countries for learning how judiciary can work, they can travel to remote villages in our country and learn how villagers understand and administer law, but, if judicial jobs are contracts, this will not auger well for return of investment. Media can reduce decibels and reward peaceful protests with their consistent patronage and coverage, but, that would not fetch them advertisement revenues and incidental perks. 

So, what can change? Maybe, we being villains? 

We can make a start by not getting carried away by media portrayal of someone as hero or a villain, Anderson is 89 and seems to have lived comfortably for close to 26 years without no remorse or consciousness, what good will it do to get him to spend whatever remaining time of his life in an Indian prison? what will it compensate for us? Would not curtail the growth of several people with same attitude of remorselessness and lack of consciousness in our society, in our midst, be a better compensation for the memory of the Bhopal victims? 

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