Updated: Mar 3, 2020
Published in the Panorama, Deccan Herald on October 1, 2010
The term ‘CWG’, wherever and in whatever form I find gives me the heebie-geebies. I have nightmares of stained toilets and unwashed baths and filth galore with loosely strewn construction material all around. In my waking hours my head is in a whirl trying out desperate solutions to the problem. It is all but turned into a personal battle.
As for the powers that be, clothes were being shed in unseemly hurry and there they stand in the raw and the world is watching dumbstruck. Bereft of prepared speeches and platitudes, kneejerk reactions were spilling out making one go red in the face. And you wished they would stop and pull up their socks… and pants!
One was all but lost trying to figure out how to put a stop to the growing appetite among the country’s ruling class to do the country in, in their bid to make hay while the sun shines.
What does one do to resurrect the honour and pride of a country that the naive amongst us hang on to? What in practical terms is an immediate solution to this unbelievable display of a lack of basic nicety and decency?
But how indeed has this utter shamelessness come to pass? These things do not happen in a day! It is a behaviour pattern that has been allowed to grow, nay, almost nurtured by an uncaring public and a criminal leadership which gets by every time. With the passing of time, crimes get hazy and are forgotten. It is then time again to commit yet another.
As a people we seem strangely to lack a sense of national pride. Identities are limited to the very personal. There is no larger identity whatsoever, one that belongs to the social and the civic. There is a lack of ownership, a lack of belonging.
Newly built gleaming, world class bus shelters turn into stinking, stained horrors within months of inauguration. Beautiful parks and lung spaces get littered in the most nonchalant manner. We show a complete disregard for road etiquette. We hold queues in disdain.
And this is a country where democracy is firmly rooted. Where consensus came naturally. The benefit of the whole was imperative for the well-being of the part. Discussions were a natural process and a part of the scheme of things where a decision had to be arrived at. Where did we lose all of that?
Where went our rich heritage, our glorious culture, our lessons in hospitality, our innate humility and our courtesy towards others, our respect for the environment and every animate and inanimate thing? These were lessons that our land held a torch to, to the rest of the world… and now we seem to be undoing it all with a vengeance.
The Vedas denounce unethical, profit driven activity and warn against its effect on society and the environment. The Rig Veda speaks highly of wealth earned through ethical means and through acts of glory and lays down the right mode of using and sharing of the wealth thus earned. Consumption of wealth all by oneself is considered an unforgivable sin.
All heavenly bodies and the rivers that nourish the land, the creatures that inhabit it, the air and water, the wind that blows, the sun that rejuvenates and nurtures life, the mountain folds that guard and protect are all paid oblations to and praised in hymns. They speak of the importance of an unpolluted environment. The Vedas and the Upanishads are unequivocal in stressing man’s debt to his ‘environment’… in the most comprehensive sense of the word.
We know all of this and yet we do mere lip service to these wisdoms. Maybe because it was a way of life for us and came down through generations unlearned. And now we have forgotten it all because it suits us no more in our hurry to grab and get there first. The hunger does not seem to abate; the appetite seems to be growing ever larger.
There is no doubt that huge results are a consequence of combined small efforts, a set of small initiatives that blossom into larger rewards. And of course, and unfortunately so, reverse is also the case.