United, We Can
We can of course blame the politicians for our current state of affairs, but few of us do. For most of us, politicians are the do-gooders. They give us the freebies – never mind that they extract many times more from us to dole out those goodies. We turn to them when we have a problem – which is exactly what they want; a favour given now is a rent to be extracted over and over again. We cannot easily measure their performance and hold them accountable; instead we are swayed by words they say days before we vote. Elections are about deciding between the lesser of the evils. Our limited attention span for anything political is less than that of goldfish, which of course they know so well.
Just around the time when the US got its Constitution, Indians became colonised – first by the whites and then by their very own. The British were allowed to rule over us for 150 years; after that under the mirage of Independence, we have let India’s politicians continue that legacy for the past 75 years. A rule that exploits and extracts, a rule by kakistocrats. But we don’t care. The bar of the acceptable behaviour of politicians keeps lowering and our tolerance of that keeps getting raised to the extent that we simply tune off and focus on the next video on our app. And then as dutiful citizens delighted with being able to exercise our democratic right, we go out and vote them (or their variants) back into power every few years.
There is no point blaming a single political party or politician. Each one of them in the course of their tenure in power has shifted the Overton Window of what is now seen as acceptable. The definition of tyranny is revised and redefined by every action of the powerful; it is the voluntary servitude of we the people which lets it happen. But what can we do? Individuals, busy with our daily lives, in a constant battle of survival, in perpetual crisis mode, singletons in an ocean of humanity. We were as helpless when the British took over; 100,000 of them commanded 300 million Indians into submission. We are as helpless now when an even smaller number commands 1300 million Indians into obedience. We just feel free now because we have our own flag, and the skin colour of the rulers and their accent matches our own.
We are our biggest problem – and also the best solution. The greatest and most powerful force in modern times is not that of a politician in power, but P2P – peer-to-peer. Each of us is connected to hundreds of others. Technology has linked us into a network where words and videos can spread at the speed of light. We don’t need a director or designer; each of us can become a decision-maker and emergence can do the rest. But we don’t know the superpower that we have – individually and as a collective. Unlike Superman’s ‘S’, it is not immediately apparent. But if someone or something can harness this, the change that is seemingly impossible today can become inevitable tomorrow.
We. United. Our support, made visible by technology. Spread P2P via our smartphone. Identity hidden because no one else needs to know. Finally, the vote, in secret. Put it all together and we can rid India of the biggest cancer that has destroyed our past, is eating away our present, and limiting our children’s future – the politicians and their parties. It took 5 years to go from ‘Quit India’ to ‘Independent India’. It can take even less to go from ‘They, the Powerful’ to ‘We, the Free and Rich.’ This is the revolution India needs.