Rudyard Kipling wrote: “Words are
the most powerful drug used by mankind.” The truth in those words shines bright
during election time. Just like ice cream or burger companies, the notable
limited period election flavours are linked to certain themes. One of them is
Pessimism sells. The human mind is
wired for pessimism. Therefore, pessimism sticks – like Fevicol! A recent
article in GQ magazinesaid: “When you look at pessimistic people,
probably the single [most-telling] hallmark is -- they think that bad events
are permanent and that they're unchangeable.” A lot of stuff in the media and
politics these days is akin to this.
Take the example of talking about
poverty and poisonous political rattling around this subject. Although India
has miles to go, millions of people have been brought out of abject poverty.
Yet politicos, and recently the winking and hugging parliamentarian, can’t stop
talking about poverty. Let’s do a fact check. There were 90.17 m people living
in extreme poverty in January, 2016 (6.8% of population). In January, 2019,
49.16 m people were reported to be living in extreme poverty (3.6% of
population) in India.
The current escape rate is 21.7 people/minute, whereas the target escape rate is
7.8 people/minute. Yet the narrative and discourse of pessimism is kept
consistent and incessant. The fact is that great good has happened and greater
good is yet to be done. It is important to acknowledge what is done and it is
imperative to focus on what needs to be done through ideas and action.
Standard tweeted on January 22, 2019: “If everyone had decent
jobs… not very many would spare time for Kumbh”. What kind of “standard” is
this? Is this the way to talk about the faithful who visit the largest
congregation on the planet? Even if many were underemployed, is this the way to
look down upon millions of people by the media? Partisan, irresponsible,
agenda-driven, and biased seems to be a new standard and that too by a business
newspaper - this is appalling. On the other hand, a CII report said that the
fifty-day congregation – the Ardh Kumbh, will create jobs for 6 lakh workers
and generate revenue of Rs 1.2 lakh crore. Pessimism is often a false
projection to blur people’s perception by only flashing the doomsday prophesies
on the screen of the mind.
False, pretentious, convenient facts abound! Pessimism is projected on an
oversized screen bigger than the falsehood it wants to project. Elections
involved rigging of some booths in earlier times. Elections today are about rigging
people’s perception on a scale not known before, one that is so immaculate
in design that you won’t even know. The upcoming 17th national
election will have an electorate of nearly 900 million out of which 450 m have
access to internet, there are 270 m Facebook users and 200 m WhasApp users –
which is equal to more than any democracy in the world. We need to be watchful
of all this.
The President of India tweeted on 1st
February about the cost of data – dropping from Rs. 250 per GB (2014) to Rs. 12
(2018). There are innumerable positive data points and there is an unfinished
agenda before the nation to overcome so many problems.
I recently read: “Life can only be
understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” We have to look ahead, to
look for the light. I hope we don’t succumb to pessimism. I hope we will look
through to see where the light is. Charlie Chaplin said: “You’ll never find
rainbows if you’re looking down”.
And yes the Supreme
Court will deliver its take about the fate of a prayer in schools which comes
from the civilizational soul of India. Strange as it is, some believe that
nation can be separated from the bedrock of its
civilization and the offshoots can poison the soil. The universality of those
words is as important and relevant as ever. Let me sign off with that same
aspiration: May all of us be led from untruth to truth, from darkness to
light, from death to immortality.