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 Blooming Stars

Status of the World – 4
            One would think the concept of equality would be very close to everyone’s heart. But the prevailing climate does not indicate that. A great deal of gratuitous, unnecessary, and meaningless obeisance and fealty catering to officials’ egos seems to be the order of the day. In a democracy officials are appointed by representatives of the people elected by people and as such they are employed by people and paid for by money collected from people by way of taxes or fees for services. As it is people bow and cringe before these officials to get the services they have a right to, they think they have been done some favors that they do not deserve. This is a clear example of a role-reversal where servants act as if they are the masters. I notice this especially after my return to India after about thirty-five years of living in the U. S.

            A few days ago there was a news item reported widely in the press about Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth of England getting engaged to some young lady. I certainly wish the young couple the very best. But this news report smacked of the remnants of pathetic colonialism of old especially in the context of so many important events that seriously affect the lives of so many millions of people in the world on a daily basis go unreported. A great deal of news coverage consists in what the so-called celebrities do in minute details – what they eat or wear or how much they bare. I am aware that the news media cater to this craving that ordinary people have to stay in business. Religions also have contributed their share. Sometime ago I went to a tailor who was stitching a shirt I had designed for myself. He did not very much care about some importance I was giving to it. He said: “Father, what does it matter? We are all mere worms”. I knew from what kind of religious background he is coming from. I told him: “You may be. I am not”. In fact Christians who believe in justification (salvation) by grace alone believes in the utter unworthiness of human beings where grace is all that matters.

            I made some casual observances/comments about the present and the past state of affairs in India and the world. Does that mean that democracy has not yet matured? Does that mean that we are still under the psychological yoke of colonialism, imperialism, and royalty? Do we live our lives vicariously through persons of glamour/celebrities? Does not that also then mean that we ourselves are spiritually bankrupt? Do we need to be scintillated by such trivialities and persons of no-substance? Does not that also describe our own mental state? We were and still are an oppressed and beaten-down people through ingenious caste and race systems that institutionalized inequality and oppression. The local kings and chieftains were not necessarily any better than the colonial masters and invaders.

            It is interesting to note that some Muslim rulers were notorious for imposing jizya poll tax on Hindus and custom duties on Hindu traders while Muslims were exempt even before the East India Company that gave way to British Raj and Colonial Rule . In fact the British did better than the rest in that they, for instance, abolished the evil practice of Sati (the practice of wives immolating themselves in the funeral pyres of husbands). It may be of interest to note that a Mughal emperor in 1717 was practically “bribed” by the East India Company for 30,000 pounds worth of gifts to receive excessive trade concessions. The native kings and warlords did not fare any better. The so-called high caste Hindus did not treat the so-called low caste Hindus and untouchables as human beings. While we are talking about the atrocious racist system, I have known Indians in the USA and in India to be racist or even very conscious of the color of their own skin and make vital decisions on the basis of that.

            When we are talking about immoral and unethical rulers or masters or so-called enlightened men whether Mughal, colonial (mostly British), or native, who had no regard for human lives or their rights, it is difficult to say who was the worst among them. It is only a question of degree. It is very difficult to assess the enormous damage done, say, to the Indian psyche or the psyche of most of the world that was enslaved in one form or another through centuries of subjugation and domination perpetrated by foreign or domestic/native rulers. An unhealthy servile and obsequious mentality may be an outcome of prolonged domination and mistreatment suffered by people and nations. These persons can often be passive-aggressive in that they keep on suffering or putting up with aversive situations until they reach their limit and finally end up in a big blow-up for something relatively insignificant.


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