Monday, 16 April 2012

In Need Of A Midas Touch

Time rues over the long lost glory of a flourishing nation which was the envy of the world. At the time the merchants from the English East India Company arrived, India accounted for more than 25% of the world's economy, surprisingly from peaceful trade and commerce since India has never in its history is known to have invaded and occupied any other nation. 

There was a sparkle in grandma's eyes when she narrated stories of kings and kingdoms of yore passed on to her from generation to generation. These were not narrations of concocted fairy tales but glorified depictions of India's past and perhaps forever lost grandeur and opulence. 

They said Indian villages and cities wore a festive look every single day and life for its inhabitants was a celebration. People held relationships and humanity high on a pedestal and money was a mere commodity not life's most essential. 

Till recently, when diamonds were unearthed from South Africa's scenic landscape, India was the one major source of diamonds and precious stones. Historians often relate only China with the famous silk route, however, the majestic Hindukush were hosts to the wealthy tradesmen treading the magnificent paths of this legendary route. Peaceful & civilised commercial transaction of commerce & trade flourished in the ancient Orient and India especially. 

As the adage goes, when there are bad things happening, rest assured because there is always something good around the corner, the contrary of which is also true. India's long cherished golden era was dying a slow and painful death with its people fully aware but totally helpless to the situation. 

We all know what fate had in store for this beautiful abode of the Gods themselves. How this wonderful country was pilloried, plundered, maimed, mauled, molested and mutilated by foreign marauders. For all its glory, she could protect neither her nor her children's modesty when invaders from everywhere made her their favorite playing ground to play their Reindeer games. The greatest nation on earth was enslaved by a motley group of men who owed allegiance to their queen enthroned on a distant island. 

This was perhaps the greatest upset in the history of mankind and could be likened to victories of a few over many such as David over Goliath & Alexander of Macedonia over Darius of Persia. Many a historian and Indologists have provided very detailed postmortem reports on the fundamental cause for this mammoth upheaval. Mutual intolerance, lack of mutual trust, varied religious affiliations and boorish ambitions of the powerful.

Alexander kneeling before Darius's
India was in for a very long eclipse where the influence of alien cultures left her rich linen in complete tatters. Loss of faith, collateral damage, shift in educational practices, introduction of social evils - an act of a few unscrupulous men who manipulated minds and made a livelihood out of it. This dark era in Indian history is blotted with the tyranny and treachery of vile rulers. The cultural bank of the world lost its reserves and ended up a cultural - deficit nation where superstitions gobbled up scientific thinking. 

Millions withered away in the searing heat of the times having become weak and powerless against the oppressive forces of superstition propagators and ruthless warlords. Mughal ruled Hindustan saw a lot of uneasiness as it was a time of perennial battles for supremacy. The Rajputana Maratha & Sikh pride saw them engaged in regular skirmishes with the Muslim occupants. Trade and commerce took a back seat and one up man ship was the order of the day. Men and women who wished they had no affiliations to whomsoever were caught in these killing fields of humankind. 

Robert Clive with Mir Jafar after the
Battle of Plassey
The subsequent British occupation of us gave a semblance of respite to these internal feuds as kings and chieftains were busy establishing their allegiances to their new white skinned masters. They swallowed pride and became tolerant towards each other albeit with much chagrin to unitedly serve the European warlords. The English bring in some reforms such as the abolishing of Sati, introduction of the railways, brought in Victorian architecture and culture to the Indian cities, introduced efficient public distribution systems and the Police system for law & order enforcement and not to forget the Macaulay way of education (though it is a controversial subject). This short lived bliss soon turned into a nightmare when the settlers clearly set different standards for the natives and their own kind. The last few standing bastions of Maratha, Rajputana and Mughal pride were crushed by the British with the help of collaborators whose consciences were not disturbed for a moment committing treason. 

The British were most successful in thwarting all of the armed revolutions that showed up its heads across the hundreds of princely states of India. The British employed their most lethal weapon each and every time a threat of revolt arose. Their home bred Chimera, the mythical two headed fire breathing creature - Divide and Rule. The British coat of arms has a saber bearing lion up on its hinds bearing its ferocious claws - The lions hunt by preying on the weakest member of the herd. Isolate and kill. The Indian psyche made them easy prey. 

For an astounding two centuries, the richest most powerful nation on the planet was ruled by men from an island which had barbaric (Germania) beginnings, where bigotry (witch hunts, burning at the stake, public lynching) and tyranny ruled the roost. India was in a long period of gestation. Minds were becoming restless and were screaming for freedom. The deprivation of independence to achieve one's goals, the sense of being a prisoner in one's own home, the pain of drudgery all needed a time and occasion to vent out high running passions. The whole of the India sub continent was hungry for a leader who would take them out of this recurring nightmare. The nation saw a shimmering ray of hope in a young Gujarati barrister from South Africa who would hold it by his hand and walk towards the heaven of freedom. 

India was in need of a Midas touch that would turn dust into Gold. 'Mahatma' was the man with the Midas touch who usurped lost power from the British in a way that was shockingly new to the world. Non Violence. 

This post is in remembrance to the millions of martyrs who laid down their lives for us. In today's 'free' India, we have perils that are countless times greater than the perils of a foreign occupation. Today, we have a nation embattled to fight the threats of corruption, terrorism, Red rage and dishonest politicians. 

Today, we are in need of another 'Mahatma' who would bail us all out of this clutter. 

We, children of modern day India, are looking for a man with the Midas touch. 

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.

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