A group of farmers in Boisar in Palghar district of Maharashtra staged a protest against the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project, expressing apprehension that they would lose their land on account of it.Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe launched the project in Ahmedabad on Thursday.Also Read Japanese Industrial Townships will come up in 4 states, says Modi The farmers waved black flags and raised slogans against the project outside Boisar railway station. They alleged that the BJP-led government was going ahead with the project without taking farmers into account. Kaluram Dodhade of Bhoomi Sena, who took part in the protest, said, “Palghar has mostly small farmers, and if their land is acquired for the project, they will be ruined.”The demonstration was organised by Shetkari Sangarsha Samiti and Advasi Ekta Parishad.Palghar DSP Majunath Shinge said, “It was a symbolic protest and there was no law-and-order situation.”District Collector Prashant Narnavre said the agitation was carried out peacefully.
For the past year or so, observers have been remarking on just how dysfunctional the United Progressive Alliance government has become. It has been hit by a succession of corruption charges and, more recently, its supreme leader, Sonia Gandhi, has gone through a serious illness.As a result, all that it has been able to do is to undertake fire-fighting operations where, to the consternation of their well wishers, they have actually ended up adding fuel to the fire, as in the case of the handling of the Anna Hazare and Swami Ramdev incidents.But of late, there is something more distressing happening- an unrestrained free for all among senior party functionaries and government ministers.The most serious “war”, that between P Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee, can only be detected in its undercurrents. There is the matter of the note on the former’s failure to stop the 2G licence sale in January 2008 which is in the news these days.Earlier, there was the curious episode of the discovery of some adhesive substance which may have held listening devices and the letter of protest sent, not to the Home Ministry, which may have known something about the issue, but to the Prime Minister.On Friday Congress party general secretary Digvijay Singh made an extensive critique of the country’s handling of its internal security challenges, wondering, tongue in cheek perhaps, as to who was in- charge of the country’s internal security system.There are a host of smaller public spats- Jairam Ramesh questioning the Montek Singh Ahluwalia- led Planning Commission’s definition of poverty, Mani Shankar Aiyar picking quarrels with Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken and Mr Ahluwalia and Salman Khurshid taking issue over the minority status of Jamia Millia with Kapil Sibal.advertisement
The dictionary describes mediocrity as a low degree of merit, an unresponsive attitude imbued with a general apathy, a middle state of existence.To say that we live in a time of mediocrity is to give mediocrity a bad name. We aspire to very little, we are satisfied with nothing, and we live without expectation. Part of the decline stems from the daily dose of political rot meted out by the media, the incessant air waves and sound bytes of mediocre men who control and charge the atmosphere with daily venom.And they are everywhere. Replacing genuine heroes like Gandhi, Tagore and Einstein, they rush in and out of the television frame, people with 10 minutes of fame, casting aspersions on each other, men and women with rasping opinions but no vision, spewing volumes of self-righteous indignation.The daily face of the politician, the cricketer, the bureaucrat, the journalist, the film hero and the Godman- those interchangeable personalities of India.The movie star’s opinion on trade, the minister’s opinion on art, the journalist’s view of nuclear energy, the cricketer on corruption, the bureaucrat’s participation in the Literary Festival, all contaminate daily life to a point of distraction and diversion.Public domainA minister for agriculture controls a private cricketing body; a cricketer joins the Rajya Sabha; a Communist party leader writes a regular newspaper column; a film actress wins elections in Rajasthan, a convict in Uttar Pradesh. Substitutions can be made between politics, sport, religion, film, smuggling.In the relentless public view of the power game, the nation’s daily debates take place from uncertain, immoderate positions. Everyone must have a say; everyone must disagree; everyone must express their belief in public forums.advertisementEveryone must be known for their volubility, their public presence, their hits on Facebook, the number of followers on Twitter, the number of disciples at a public fast, the number of cars in the garage.Amorphous and always deliberately vague, visibility imparts a renewed sense of purpose. Even in their most private moments, the TV cameras must be on.Public service means continual public consumption; the strange sight of agitated men, shunting in and out of cars with blinking red lights, between Parliament house and jail, between hotel conference and airport, descending from the sky to inspect a flood.The hollow faith of position, status and national enterprise moulded into a daily and charged practice.Without responsibility or achievement, the mere act of maintaining position becomes responsibility, even achievement.It rankles first with the lack of political idealism, bordering on polemical confusion.The Communists still call each other Comrade and their meeting, a Politbureau, but are the first to propound theories of private investment as progress.NGOs bask in a halo of goodness, keeping up the theme of Gandhian austerity, all the while keeping a hand firmly in the deep pockets of their foreign benefactors.Economists reel under the pressure of urgency for poverty line solutions, but must make time for the summit at Davos. The Godman speaks less of God than of more pressing mortal things like corruption, and if elected, to find a cure for black money through the rigorous practice of yoga.Corruption Pampered by idleness and inaction, on air and in the press, in country maidans and at India Gate, emotions run high- a convenient substitute for decisions.But they are relentless in their plunder.One hundred thousand crore, three lakh thousand crore, the figures are meaningless.In the far reaches of burnt out cities, at the edge of treeless forests, bloated bodies come up for air, gratifying their appetites in lust and treasure- a little rape here, a bauxite mine there.But they must daily pamper their dead weight with a high diet, squeezing their servers with gold-studded fingers, and letting others bend to their immodesty.Their true ideals- of uncontrolled prejudice and savage division- are a new form of life’s inspiration.Change Even the false ambitions of the young, the verbal fluency of the intellectuals, and the oscillating conviction of the politicians leave little but a gnawing incompleteness- as if the scale of ordinary life can only be viewed in a flash of personal viewpoints.It is rhetoric of mindless populism, where everything hinges on the economy, material output, rising aspiration, leaving a maladjusted social system, and a people unlinked to any collective desire for change.In the bleached atmosphere of the new century, it is hard to tell apart the ridiculous from the sublime, falsehood from utter falsehood.When the believers are themselves on sale, the equation hardly matters.advertisementMost people, most cultures, that live in hope, do so only because they expect life to change, and for the better. When people begin to believe that change is impossible, when even the floundering has ceased, there is little but terminal decline.The only hope for the future that fills the heart with any optimism is the quick passing of the present, and its replacement with a successor that owes nothing to the present. Something good is bound to rise from the ashes. Far away there are daily rumblings of a coming transformation.In small town, in village, a minor prophet with gentler intentions is on the rise. Living the new ideal on tamped earth, a faint hint of hope, still faint, but ready to remake the world.In an era marked by mediocre men, and a complete absence of applied ideas, is it a wonder that the old profession of leadership flounders for lack of applicants?It was Choudhary Charan Singh who said that the leader of a country of 600 million farmers should himself be a farmer. The Indian leader today is merely a repeat image of the mass he represents. He is just one of us.