Thursday, May 21, 2009
Finally They Found an ‘Other’ in Dr.Sen
There was a time when you said anything against the ‘progressive forces’ (I mean the Communists) you were dubbed as a CIA person. Several intellectuals and writers faced this allegation during 1980s only because they spoke about the totalitarian ways of the Community Party (Marxist) in India.
Now the tables are turned. If you talk anything about the poor and the downtrodden, suddenly you become a ‘commie’, a ‘red’ (thankfully not a ‘Reddie’) and someone who follows that ‘damn old’ defunct 19th century ideology. Erstwhile ‘CIA people’, who have been always talking about issues on a democratic and humanitarian level, are forced to ‘become’ ‘commies’ and ‘reds’ now.
George Orwell had warned us about this doublespeak long back in forties through his prophetic novels ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘1984’.
I am surprised to know that there are several people (young people) in our country who simply believe in this doublespeak. How easily they indulge in the doublespeak! In their interpretation, Dr.Binayak Sen is a ‘Commie’. Going by that Medha Patkar, Arundhati Roy, Mahashweta Devi and many more like them should be ‘Commies’.
Dr.Binayak Sen is a Commie because he works amongst the rural poor. We were desperately waiting for an ‘other’. In a global society finding the ‘other’ is a very difficult task. Everyone is connected through networking sites and blogs. Everyone is partying here or there. Everyone is enjoying the same zoozoos. Everyone is enjoying the same IPL.
Even a terrorist like Kasab became so familiar with his naïve appropriation of a popular desire to be with/like John Abraham. Look how a global terrorist has surreptitiously become our co-conspirator in the ‘ether world’ of desire.
Establishing and identifying an ‘other’ is a psychological need for human beings in order to make their lives worth living. The ‘other’ performs the role of a touchstone in the real and imaginative realms of life. Your energies are directed towards the other for assessing your mettle in the general battle field of life. It tests your ideological convictions, philosophical anchors and above all survival instincts.
To digress a bit, when you step into a mall, you detach yourself from the real world. You become a zoozoo, identify your mirror images and satisfy your desire to be there by being there. If at all you think, you think about your privilege to be there. Your ambition then would be to become ‘more equal than’ the tolerable other in your vicinity. You just don’t think about the real other, which you have long forgotten, but still cherish an itch to have one somewhere.
Finally, you have found your other in Dr.Binayak Sen; a ‘Commie’ in your parlance. In his image, confined or free, you identify the images of the innumerable poor and downtrodden in this country. That is really irritating. So you give them a collective name a la Coriolanus, ‘Commies’; under your breath you add, ‘dirty, unwashed, skeletal, ugly and impoverished creatures.’
Look at the comments made by some of my readers: ‘Is the Chattisgarh govt. and the Supreme court of India MAD to imprison a good doctor giving free treatment to the poorest of the poor?’ ‘This is a man who is a clear sympathizer of the Naxalites.’ ‘There is nothing heroic or noble about being a naxal. It's no different from joining the underworld.’ ‘Your Mother Theresa the second wears red underwear.’
These are the reactions of the people who have finally found their ‘real’ other. Now they are happy because they can call anybody who speaks up for the human rights, a Naxal, a Dr.Binayak Sen or a Commie.
Once the identity of the other is established, then it is very easy to decimate them. Yes, I have to agree with these guys on one thing; the terrorists and the poor have one thing similar. They don’t have a face. The terrorists all over the world look the same in their hoods. The poor all over the world look the same- bearded, tortured and emaciated like Dr.Sen. Even if they are hooded by their poverty and lack of equal opportunity, their eyes spark through the holes in their hoods, just like the terrorists’ eyes from behind their hoods.
Khalid Hosseini in his best seller ‘Kite Runner’ talks about the sacrifice of a goat during the festival days. Before the priest runs the blade through its neck, the goat looks back at the man and those who surround it to see the spectacle of death. What is the meaning of that look in the goat’s eyes?
For me it resembles the feeling of a man forcibly made the other by the mainstream thinkers.
But then what about those who call Dr.Sen and all supporters Commies? Don’t their eyes also play up the same fear of death, temporarily flashed as victory and desire?