Castles in the air - they are so easy to take refuge in. And so easy to build, too.

आम्हां घरी धन शब्दांचीच रत्नें | शब्दांचीच शस्त्रें यत्न करुं ||
शब्द चि आमुच्या जीवांचे जीवन | शब्दें वांटूं धन जनलोकां ||
तुका म्हणे पाहा शब्द चि हा देव | शब्द चि गौरव पूजा करुं ||
- abhang of Tukaram Wolhoba Ambile of Dehu

There's No Freedom Like That of a Child's Imagination

கடலுக்கு உண்டு கற்பனைக்கு இல்லை கட்டுப்பாடு

Friday, July 21, 2006

Back to the old, mad ways

It feels just like that day in 1977 (To be honest no. I wasn't even born then.) when IG announced the lifting of the E, the freeing of JP and general elections. My poor little Rumia, having suffered at the hands of Indian ISPs has come back to life. I can now legitimately protest the bombings of 7/11.

Should I? I've seen them bombs time and again, and I travel by those very death-traps to go home. If I get scared I'll get cut off from Ma and Pa and Puppysingh and Ding Ding and the others, and well, I'm not going to do that. Nor am I going to light virtual candles to allow someone cheap publicity. (But I admit I did light a 'candle' before wisdom dawned.) And I'm not going to rave and rant against Pakistan or jehadis or whoever it is that done it.

But I think I should rave and rant against our mai-baap sarkaar for its actions. It lost its nerve just when it had to keep it. I know this government is absurd (if it was normal I would fear for India's soul), but even then, banning blogs?

The first thing, and last thing, we need to demonstrate to the outside world (which seems to have taken a fondness for us all of a sudden), is that we are a civil society. I mean, we are a civil society with courts and rule of law and all that, but we need to demonstrate that we are a society that is civil. A society that doesn't panic, that doesn't riot at the drop of a hat (I admit we don't score there) , that doesn't go to war at short notice (we score very well here), and which doesn't abrogate fundamental rights. And definitely one that doesn't block blogs.

We aren't quite world-class in most things, but we do get along with all sorts of nice things. We have 'Lakme Fashion Week', a vibrant 'art' scene, we have some good scientific research institutes, one of our states belongs to God and another is where the world wants to go to. We may not match Paris, or London, or Boston or Tahiti, but we do quite well anyway. And perhaps that makes people who don't have such things jealous.

And what sustains our 'developing' civil institutions is a system of ideas that we've held on to. Our steel frame is rusty; mothers would blanch if their children employed 'parliamentary' behaviour, and you probably are still litigating your grandfather's case.

But we do have running trains, municipal water, and a crime rate that can be lived with. The system somehow works, which is more than can be said for our neighbours. We have an exemplary press though, and a citizenry that places great faith by it. And we know the governing party can be thrown out next election. And then the liberating spirit of the internet (in so many more ways than one), and the blog-mania sweeping young and old alike.

Maybe that's why we get our fair share of bombs.

And then they clamp down on blogs. A howl of protests, yes, a quick restoration too. But a tiny rend has been effected in our social fabric. A little bit of nerve, that wee bit of civil behaviour, replaced (though momentarily) by irrational thought. Maybe time will suture it so no one notices. Or maybe it will stay, and begin to fray the rest of the cloth.

You think the bombers got their work done?

Well, anyway its over. Let's get back to our madness, and the freedom that goes with it.

[Do read this article with a sense of optimicasm. You see, the feeling is both sarcastic and optimistic at the same time, and I cannot quite make up my mind whether I am being optimistically sarcastic or sarcastically optimistic. I guess optimicasm is a really nice word. Yes, and those who throw bombs at us don't even have that.]

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