The Common Man – Curious case of “Hopeful-Helpless”
Last week we received a mail from a citizen in distress who said, he was “SQUEEZED or निचोड़ा हुआ”. The email had a series of haphazard thoughts swaying between myriad facts of reality; and certainly, the man appeared to be educated, reasonably poised in social status, lived in a metropolitan with his 2+2 family and a law abiding tax paying citizen of the country.
Our Mr Squeezed Common Man (SCM) was a cross breed between the Laxman’s ‘Hopeful Common Man’; and Naseeruddin Shah’s ‘Helpless Common Man”.
Team PGuru brainstormed his mail for hours and he even started to occupy our social space. After a lot of deliberations, we diagnosed his ailment of being the curious case of “Hopeful-Helpless”.
He was hopeful because….
- On 15 August ’17, India was going to celebrate the 70th year of Independence. The Nation had come a long way from the bygone era of British Raj and today, it was one of the fastest developing country.
- Demonetisation had controlled the corruption and truck loads of currency notes were found stashed in gunny bags.
- Swatcch Bharat was bringing an end to the horrific sight of people excreting on the railway lines.
- Digital India had simplified things a bit.
- Income tax was expected to reduce in future as Aadhaar and PAN will catch those who don’t pay.
- Misadventures by Pakistan were getting punished with surgical strikes.
In the same breath, our Mr SCM was helpless also …
- In spite of securing respectable marks, his daughter didn’t get a recognised college, as he was a Brahmin.
- He was asked for a heavy sum in cash as donation by the college.
- It was unsafe for his daughter to travel the 15 km to college in a bus.
- He was paying 30% income tax and all the GST, still, he didn’t have water in his taps and 24 hours electricity.
- Monsoons meant even larger potholes, water clogged streets and a spate of Dengue & Chickengunia.
The middle-class urban population forms the backbone of India’s success story, yet they never experience it. Most of our Mr SCM appreciates the larger picture, but feel dejected and defeated when they see things in their immediate surroundings – An optimist and a pessimist lives in the same soul. There are no convincing answers to this complex emotional state; at best we have some arguments to understand their plight….
India was the land of Emperors where people were accustomed of being ruled. The master-slave mentality was deep rooted and ran into generations; for a common man, it was the law of nature. Incidentally, serfdom has two bizarre attributes –
First: Slaves follow the man in front, no question asked – The Herd Mentality.
Second: Two slaves are never friends, they are competitors and they despise each other.
British Raj exploited this facet and ruled us for another 200 years. They turned us against each other based on religion and caste. In the end, the 3000 years old civilisation was reduced to a “herd of trust deficit slaves.”
The nascent Indian democracy for years ran on heritage and legacy, and we became cash vending machines for the corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and civil servants. Rampant corruption gave birth to inequality and indiscipline; which made India a Nation of Un(s) – “Unequals – Unethicals – Uncivilised.”
The new millennia saw India take the extraordinary stride in economic development, thanks to globalisation. While some lucky ones grew exponentially, the majority others were not part of the ‘India shining’ story. Generations of governmental inefficiency, polarization in the society and vote bank appeasement of specific castes and ethnicities; widened the disparity between segments of the population. The last 25 years made us a curious case of “Contradictions and Inconsistencies.”
Our Mr SCM was “Squeezed” because he lives in a “herd of trust deficit slaves”, who were “Unequal – Unethical – Uncivilised,” which makes the society full of “Contradictions and Inconsistencies”.
No words of solace, logic and encouragement can bring an immediate relief to our Mr SCM, as it is a result of centuries of mindset and the decades of mismanagement. But surely there is some genuine hope now because the ethos of governance has undergone a change – “Equality – Collective Growth – Unity of Efforts.”
As a Nation, right now we need reconciliation and patience; and as a society, we have to improve upon our public conduct, and instil values of discipline and equality in our children. Instead of being “Squeezed,” rather it is time to be “Spirited”; though not literally 😉
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic