Archive for May, 2010

A distant dream

The distant moon is the epitome of serene resplendent beauty and the shimmering light of a fading star across the galaxy is more dazzling than a Kohinoor diamond. The haunting melody of a long forgotten past still lingers on while the valleys and hills of distant lands are always the enchanting backdrops of many a folk tale. The lands of opportunities and of good life are essentially across the seas and the rich bounties are only for the few willing to drip their sweat on alien soils! We are perpetually fascinated by the distant, the bygone and by the splendid imagery of an unheralded future that we fail to appreciate the joy of the immediate, the worthiness of the near or the beauty of the now.   

There is something about the distant that bestows it with an aura of mystique. Perhaps it is essentially the undefined nature of its elements that affords one the freedom to romanticise with it breaking free from the limiting and the restricting shackles of the known and the structured. A suggestion that it could be beyond the grasp makes it all the more attractive and that which is not readily attainable has a seductive captivation on all of us. And in this obsession for that elusive ethereal, we become inert to the joys of the present and the cosiness of the close and take flight away from the realms of the real. Thus the life style of an alien land is more adventurous, its taste, sight and smell more exotic and its permissive culture immensely liberating to the one swayed away by its influence.  A quixotic engagement with the far removed is only matched with the absolute contempt for all that is familiar, all that is life sustaining and all that could truly be claimed as one’s heritage. This negation and the dereliction are not limited merely to the social and cultural environments but extend to communities, peoples and neighbourhoods that are inextricably part of one’s upbringing, a contempt not confined to the familiar that is proverbial, but to ones’ own true identity.

This contempt of the closest is no more well pronounced than in our dealings with our neighbours.  It is easier to shed a tear for the suffering millions of the sub-Saharan desert than to sympathise with an ailing neighbour and provide her a little moral succour. We can, at the most, tolerate our neighbours but can never really care for them; for they are our pitted enemies that the destiny has forced us to live in close proximity. A neighbour is a moron, unaccommodating and an unavoidable nuisance while a morphing facebook contact is the one we are willing to vouch our lives on.  We could chat on for hours with our virtual pals but can’t stop to exchange pleasantries with the soul next door.  Disdain for the real leads to escapism from it with the virtual world providing the perfect cover.

But just as individuals are guilty of contempt for their next door kith and kin, nations are equally at fault in not being able to conduct their affairs honourably with their neighbouring ones. Countries wax eloquent on their quest for lasting peace and harmony among the comity of nations while they scheme the next assault on their immediate neighbours. Though they share a common history, mostly a common language and culture and are invariably from the common stock of human race, yet neighbouring nations are the fiercest when it comes running down each other. They form alliances and even military pacts with distant nations with the sole purpose to checkmate each other. In international real politic, you cannot be neighbours and yet remain friends!

Even religions which have identical lineage and are descendance of a common philosophical viewpoint are today at draggers drawn at one another. Christianity and Islam, though emanated from identical cultural milieus, having common geographical roots in the desert sands of West Asia and propagating similar egalitarian religious faiths are never as alienated from one another as they are now, threatening  global peace. The fight for supremacy between the Cross and the Crescent is a painful reminder of how similar doctrines could be divergently interpreted to cause fiction and animosity among its followers.

Only when we attempt to live in the present, see the goodness of the people we are surrounded with and strengthen the threads that inter-wove us as custodians of a common heritage, would we begin to lead a life of blessedness.




May 25, 2010 at 9:53 pm 7 comments

The Mosquito syndrome

The fourth estate, in many ways, is the barometer of a nation’s health as an independent, creative and fearless media fiercely adhering to the principles of justice is a definite bulwark to the powers of the state. Deeply reflective of the social, cultural and psychological moorings of the people, the media not just carries out the duty to inform but also shoulders the responsibility to shape the contours of public discourse that paves the way to the emergence of a more enlightened citizen.  While admirably fulfilling its primary role, it has, over the years, contributed immensely to the enrichment of the languages, the art and the culture of the country thereby refining and re-defining the aspirations of its people. Media has indeed been the harbinger, both of continuity and of constructive change.

But of late, a malignant ailment is fast eating into the very moral fabric of our media and that is its collective preoccupation, nay obsession, with the negative, the depressing and the sickening events that happen around us. Through incessant and senseless amplification of the crimes and their cover-ups by the crooks, a cacophony of disdain is unleashed that almost drowns down the sane and the sobering voices of reason.  And while the disturbing facets of the society are highlighted, events that cheer us up, achievements that could inspire the young to a higher purpose of life and individual feats that are worthy of emulation are largely left under reported or scantly treated in the nondescript columns on the inside pages of our dailies.   Thus, an honour killing is necessarily a front page news item when a breakthrough in frontier medical sciences is worthy of only a fifth page beat report; whereas the footage of the latest Maoists or terrorists attack is to be unendingly played on all prime time TV channels, the tireless and yeomen work of individuals and organisations aimed towards the upliftment of our tribal population seldom interests our visual media. The debauch and the wayward behaviour of a miniscule section of the society are projected as signs of progress and as a statement of upward mobility while the unflinching adherence of the overwhelming majority to the time tested values and codes of conduct are treated with absolute contempt. In an age where TRPs, web hits and eyeball retentions are the only measures of value and worthiness, all barriers of morality and decency are transgressed to score high ratings in these parameters of popularity. Our media today is fast succumbing to a serious malady which if left untreated is sure to deal a body blow to the very edifice of our traditional and family structures that has ensured security and continuity to our societies for centuries.

Like the mosquito sucking the blood of healthy people and spreading diseases among them, our media is guilty of sapping the vitality and the positive energies of our youth through an unrelenting focus on the frivolous, the flippant and the blatantly malicious aspects of our national life. Instead of being an instrument in channelizing the hallmark characteristics of idealism and selflessness of the young towards the task of nation building, the media today has a corrupting and demonising influence on them – a far cry from the salutary role it played in shaping men of sterling character during our freedom movement.

Instead of exhibiting the despicable nature of the mosquito, media should be more akin to a bee. Sucking only the nectarine honey and spreading lovely fragrance all around, the activities of the bee are so pregnant with sweetness that it invigorates all that it comes in contact with. Likewise, our media too should, through a conscious promotion of the vibrant and the inspiring, the challenging and nourishing aspects of our public life, ignite the latent goodness of the people and propel them to achieve excellence in selfless endeavours.  That is the vest that our media today need to adorn.

From the stinging mosquito to the humming bee, the media make-over is indispensable.



May 14, 2010 at 11:33 pm 6 comments

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