ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Montage of Skulduggery

A quick look at media reports in the first weeks of the new year reveals the horrifying diversity of daily conflicts among the varieties of intra-religious, ethinic, political, linguistic, political and pseudo-political groups and parties that are tearing society apart.

Reports and official statements that appear in newspapers read like a metaphor of the hideous sham that is ‘Bharat’. A collage of the news, if juxtaposed against each other, can indeed give a new meaning to that age-old cliche – ‘unity in diversity’– albeit in an ironic way. The unity can be found in the corruption and criminality that have crept into every pore of our society. Judging by the newspaper reports, they have united the Bollywood glitterati, the stars of that ‘gentleman’s game’ called cricket, politicians of all hues, business tycoons, CBI officials, IAS bureaucrats at the top, and then from there vertically down through various levels to the village panchayat head, the local political boss, the ‘thana’ police, the junior government officer. The diversity is in the reports of the daily conflicts – violent most of the time – among the varieties of religious, intra-religious, linguistic, ethnic, political, pseudo-political groups, parties, etc, that tear apart our society into a thousand of mutually hostile amoebas which are perpetually reproducing themselves in an endless race.

A review of the main reports that have appeared in newspapers in the first month of the new year can be quite revealing. While our ministers are assuring us and the world that the Indian economy in the millennium is pregnant with huge possibilities, the ground reality suggests that the signs of pregnancy may turn out to be those of dropsy. Let us couple together a pair of reports coming out at the same time. One report tells us that the Food Corporation of India (FCI) storehouses are saturated with more than 50 million tonnes of wheat and rice – an amount that is considered to be between four and five times higher than the usual buffer stock. A committee of Indian MPs is even reported to have suggested that the FCI dump some of its stocks into the sea! Another report tells us that despite this inflated stock, about 150 million people spread over six drought-hit states, have been starving for weeks because of their inaccessibility to, and inability to buy, foodgrains. Yet another news item describes, how responding to the crisis, the prime minister, almost re-enacting the gesture of royal generosity that is found in the ancient myths like the Ramayana, chose his birthday to announce a plan called the Antyodaya Anna Yojana, promising to dole out limited quantities of foodgrains every month to the ‘poorest of the poor’.

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