The desensitisation of the public in India

The notion of governance always fascinated me. In my early days, I was wide-eyed as I devoured the pages of the Amar Chitra Katha with their resplendent kings and queens who were either benevolent or barbarians depending upon the context of the story. Pretty two-sided characters whom we could identify with earnestness or despise with vehemence.

Modern kings translate to politicians with rather similar sang froid, who are as slippery as an eel in action or at least astute to stay the course.  Quite unlike the erstwhile era, where at least your enemy was defined and there was no unacceptable surprises to twist your logic on pelf, power or prestige, the present-era owners of the government are quite adept at identifying themselves, rather forcefully with the age-old adage that there are no permanent enemies in politics. Today’s opposition leader is tomorrow’s alliance partner. It is dirty and the players revel in it with absolute gusto.

India’s PM, one must admit, has the same sartorial sense as his ageless ancestors in action had, but whether he has inherited anything else is still in question. The demonetisation ogre has, after eating up all of the currency in circulation, steadfastly refused, till date, to either regurgitate or pass out the same in motion.

Nobody seems to have a sense of what was swallowed. Nobody is willing to speak. There is a sense of palpable fear that hangs about questioning the monarch’s diktat. And there is not even a court appointed jester to ease the situation for the miserable public. They have been scammed out of their hard-earned money and the government refuses to let go. The government who, by the way, is answerable to this self-same public. Only the public refuses to question. That is how smartly and conveniently the government has desensitised the public.

The public dance to the music of another orbit, where governance has no role. The presiding gods of those planets deal with much more serious topics. I could detail the topics, but that would be spoiling the fun. Suffice to say that when asked about what the head of the family dealt with in family affairs, he was supposed to have said that weighty matters like “should Israel and Palestine have peace” and “Is Global warming changing global weather patterns” were his domain, while less important ones like “which schools should his children study in” and “Whether the leaking pipe should be repaired now” were left to his wife.

Even today, the ATMs do not either work or do not dispense money. Not even Rs.500/-, forget Rs.24000/-. The truly herculean task of gathering currency for the morning milk is a daily struggle. A change of Rs.2000/- gives respite for a few days. Yet, the nagging prick at the base of the skull of why this situation has developed refuses to leave. I manage, but I keep hearing daily stories of struggle from my peers and friends who work with volunteers in villages just a few kilometres away from the shine of the city.

Every government blusters its way with bravado. But this government has taken it to dizzying heights. A certain tightening of the belt was expected, but it completely boggles the mind that the belt was around the neck. The pincers have clamped down on the soft sensitive skin, but because it has been there so long, the pain is beginning to evolve into a kind of dull sensation that has necessarily to be ignored for the remnants of sanity to remain. And the government revels in this desensitisation.

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