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 Blooming Stars

Revisiting Anarchy

            A few days ago I decided to drive my vehicle on the day of a strike (harthal) to do some urgent business. The leader who knew me and stopped me said: “Swamiji, do you have no sense to drive on the day of a harthal?! I replied: “The problem is I have more than enough sense to assert my freedom of using a public road which no one has a right to stop me from using it”. Gandhiji (the father of the nation) would never allow it. This is violence you are engaging in. Violent stopping of all work and movement, and the virtual shut-down of the entire state cannot take place in a democracy.” Of course his argument was that he had a right to strike precisely in the name of democracy and force the strike on others and paralyze the entire state no matter what others who disagree with him think, no matter if his demands are unreasonable.

            As his followers surrounding my jeep were getting antsy and restless, and as their leader was as irrational, arrogant, and prone to violence as his leaders in the legislative assembly who declared the strike to begin with were, I had no non-violent choice but to turn my jeep around, park it, and walk to my destination hoping the jeep would be safe when I return. This time I was not as lucky as the time a few years ago when I had arrived from the US after a long stay (thirty-two years), and drove gleefully across the state without anyone stopping me on a day of harthal for about four hours on traffic-free roads to keep an inauguration and chief guest function I was invited for. Last night (July 17, 2013) I was forced to drive at night on ghat (mountain) roads in heavy monsoon down-pour to reach my head quarters in Munnar as the following day is a day of another harthal. In a country that is reeling from poverty, diseases, floods and other devastations, do we need these mad harthals dominated by anti-social hoodlums?

            In my recent journey across the state I heard another painful but true story. In a devout Catholic Christian family in Kerala there were five sisters and a brother. The brother was much younger in age as he was born very late and unexpectedly. The parents did not think they would have a male child. Some years after he attained majority, he expressed his desire to get married. Now his mother is gone, only his very aged father alive. His sisters and their husbands colluded to get him declared mentally insane so they could share the entire ancestral property among themselves. They did not think he was fit to marry. He went to the parish priest to get the necessary document (kuri) for a Catholic marriage. The priest denied it. He asserted that he would go for a registered court marriage. The priest gave a veiled threat cautioning him against it as he has a very old father who needs to be buried in the church cemetery according to church regulations and Catholic customs of the area. I have personally known a young man with some mental problems living in a structured but physically free environment tell me that his home visits even are not welcome because his family thinks that his visits would come in the way of good matches for the marriages of his siblings. I was appalled to hear about this dark, cruel, medieval situations.

            When many politicians are indulging in anti-social activities, when some priests are callous to the plight of ordinary people and are helpless and even anti-social themselves, are we far away from anarchy? When the ordinary persons I meet with have lost faith in their political and religious leaders, and suffer from a pernicious kind of depression coming from “learned helplessness” to use the expression of a well-known psychologist, I see the powerful ingredients of a violent revolution. Now many politicians do not have the value system or the stamina for politics with principles. The corruption-ridden politics is in disarray. Many religious leaders do not have the credibility. Moreover, they do not have the willingness to come out of their narrow vested interests to join hands with persons of good will to bring about an ethical, moral, and spirit-guided society. The judiciary has the bark but not the bite. When the chief minister or the prime minister is constantly challenged, and when civil parliamentary procedures are mercilessly and violently disrupted, the nominal executive, that is the governor or the president, sits helpless tied down in bureaucracy. It looks like we are on a slippery slope to anarchy. I, for one, strongly believe, the dark forces in the horizon cannot snub out the bright rays behind the dark clouds. Let us all work together before it is too late. Let us instill hope; let us wipe out fear from our face. Arise and awake literate Kerala! Arise and awake India. Your time has come to awake into a new awareness.


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