Choosing the Worst of Both Worlds, Rajagopal P.V.
There are many positive values in both the east and the west. Unfortunately, on our current course, we seem to be choosing the worst of both worlds. This is what Gandhi predicted and feared in Hind Swaraj and now it seems to be coming true.
Europe is made for cars, so they have centralized agricultural activities and taken as much land as they need for industry and making goods. Roads and cars are two important components of life. In addition, a computer and a credit card make life easy. People are not called human beings anymore, they have become consumers. Their main work is to consume and keep running on the 5 and 6 lane highways. When they are tired, they stop for awhile and consume, then run again. The main church where everyone bows and folds their hands now is the supermarket. The religious church is empty but the economic church is full of worshippers. People go there and examine everything with great respect then empty their pockets religiously.
That is how the new world is designed in the west. The welfare state is there to promote the market and punish people who won’t go by the market rules.
India is following this path as well but in a cruder way. In India, everything seems to be done like that. We have a crude democracy; if you have money and muscle power you can influence the assembly or parliament. Under the guise of democracy, a number of industrialists and business men have reached the parliament. We call ourselves the biggest democracy in the world. We will continue to be the biggest democracy, as long as China does not decide to compete with us in that area. Our competition with China is in the race to become a superpower. But what this means is–who can become a superpower faster by transferring all community resources to multinational companies? Who can build dams to provide power to factories and cities? Who can displace the most people to promote mining and tiger reserves for tourists? Who can invite the most companies to exploit the water resources and grab the land of farmers? Both countries are neck and neck in this competition.
‘Modern’ India is a good example of how a country can retain all the negative aspects of its culture and borrow the negative aspects of the western model. We continue to promote our caste system and the oppression of women. We continue to promote hatred between the religions and caste, in order to win elections. We continue to have child labour, bonded labour and other forms of slavery. We have no time to correct them, but we have also decided to follow the negative direction of the west. We are promoting the market philosophy. We are taking the land of the farmers for special economic zones, we make six lane highways, so that those who obtain driving licences by bribing officials can have as many accidents as they want. By doing all this, we can get rid of cyclists and pedestrians. We give good water sources to water bottling companies, so that the farmlands can go dry and the famers can commite suicide and then their land can move over to the corporate sector. We promote car companies, while there is no place for poor people to walk. We have decided to keep the tension going with Pakistan, so that a corrupt big business can flourish between the corrupt politicians and armament industries.
Unfortunately, we haven’t taken any of the good things that have developed from the west. A corruption free day-to-day life, a justice system that is not corrupt, a social system where women are not oppressed and a system where people are not discriminated against because of their birth. Instead India is becoming a waste basket for the bad things of both our own tradition and the modern west. This is not the India of our dreams.
We are living in a new world now: it is not about losers and winners anymore. This is really why I call nonviolence a beautiful message and a beautiful action. Yet this is the beauty that is not being understood and appreciated. It makes me very sad that this is not being understand in India. We are the country of Gandhi; people here should see that this message is not only good for us but for other parts of the world as well.