Sunday, March 31, 2013

Stop all celebrations.

“Amitabh Bachchan appeals for dry Holi as Maharashtra grapples with drought” says this NDTV story. No doubt, by virtue of having led a frugal, Gandhian lifestyle all these decades, he has attained moral superiority over others to pontificate on the need to conserve resources.

The leader of the opposition in Maharashtra’s Legislative Council, Mr Vinod Tawde has lamented that IPL matches are allowed to happen in Mumbai and Pine when there is a drought in other parts of the state, as the cricket ground sucks up 60000 litres a day. (source)

Let’s give both these gentlemen a round of applause. Or two rounds, one for each.

Now, if they’ll explain to us how a waterless Holi in Mumbai or stopping an IPL match in Pune would help the drought in some other corner of the state, I’m prepared to give them some more brownie points. It is a symbolic gesture and an expression of solidarity, they’d probably reply. This is complete nonsense..

These are all card-carrying members of the “P.Sainath School” which holds that no form of celebration or expression of joy should be allowed in the rest of the world, when farmers are committing suicide in Vidarbha.

As I argued in an earlier post,

Those who take such a grim view of the situation and recommend universal mourning till every single person is relieved of his suffering are appealing to your sense of guilt. How can you indulge in such joyous celebrations and festivities when elsewhere your own countrymen are wallowing in such misery? Implicit in their admonition is the presumption that happiness is a zero sum game. If I am happy, it must be at the cost of someone else in the world, which makes my state of happiness morally repugnant and unacceptable.

This argument does have some basis. In cases where farmers are deprived of their ancestral land to benefit or enrich an industry, or when rural India is denied basic facility while urban India gets disproportionate attention, they are victims of a zero-sum equation, which needs to be corrected. After all, the total funds available for development are finite, and there should be an equitable distribution.

But, even if and when such equity is established, we have to reckon with variation in human responses.

As the unit becomes larger- from families to neighbourhoods to towns to states to nations- the diversity among human beings increases. There would be a variety of moods and sentiments at any time arising out of unique developments in one’s vicinity, and unless it is a disaster of a large scale (war, earthquakes, and terror attacks) it is impossible to get all people emotionally aligned. On the continuum scale ranging from celebrations on one end to mourning on the other, different people in different locations will find themselves at different points at different times.
And people need to celebrate festivals in the manner they’ve traditionally been doing, unless it violates some law or a human right angle. Festivals break the monotony of life and give people some milestones to look forward to. We shouldn’t let hypocritical killjoys mar the spirit of the occasion.


ramesh said...

ah mr raj thou art back .. with your usual razor sharp logic :)

Unknown said...

Good hands on political posting!

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