The Middle Class Can Spark No Revolution

The Middle Class Can Spark No Revolution
Aneeta Chakrabarty

aneeta_chakrabarty The street seethes with the cries of desperate people, gives voice to their miseries, and flings much reviled rulers into the firing line.  Even though police stations burn all night and the sky rains bullets and fire, millions will still converge on the street and force the old order to pass into oblivion, as in France, Russia, China and recently Tunisia and Egypt.  Retribution comes unsought and suddenly, as years of injustice, hunger, oppression, and misery are piled on the people by tyrannical rulers.  The accumulated lava of human suffering finally erupts, like a volcano, into a fierce embrace of change in the wide open streets where the common man rules and the elites flee.

In India too, the streets are seething with injustice from the rule of the criminal crooks.   The rulers wear a shining mantle of a soaring GDP woven with poisonous threads of loot, incompetence, corruption and callous indifference. The minorities being the kingmaker and CBI in golden chains, the party is sitting pretty with coffers filled with unprecedented loot to the tune of 462 billion dollars.  It doesn’t matter that the price of onions, food, and fuel are rising geometrically, the air and water are polluted, medicines are spurious, the Pakistanis pump fake currency, the Dragon breathes fire every other day, scams keep popping up from every corner,  and the courts are hamstrung by the “kiss Sonia, kill Modi” dichotomy. Yet, there is no outrage, no gathering ground for an angry majority, no rebellion, no guns, no chafing nationalistic dissent, and no solidarity to fight the evils of the day.

Meanwhile, the Dynasty rules supreme, appeases Muslims, divides Hindus into castes, languages, and regions and frays the fabric of a United India with impunity.  Our religious leaders are in the Shangri La of “sarva dharma sama bhava,” followed by the peace brigade eulogizing over ‘aman ki asha.”  Our business leaders want to do business with Pakistan so they can make money and the techno group is reluctant to sing the National anthem for fear it will dry up the projects coming from the West.  There is no chorus for a United Team India.  Like the proverbial elephant they are serving the tail, trunk or the body without a thought about the good of the whole elephant. Fragmentation, be it social or emotional is the order of the day, and there’s not a whiff of anxiety from the chattering classes regarding overcoming it, or building a cohesive and functioning ‘Team India.”

Yes, we all know this.  We also know the price we paid.  Uniting and fighting for our survival, standing up for our religion, our dharma, our heritage and supporting our martyrs has been the missing ethic especially among the Hindus. Lack of this supreme ethic has forced us to live on bent knees to several masters for the longest time.  And yet we do nothing to join hands and fight.

Building Team India to fight the crooked regime is not easy and cannot happen unless the awareness that “to survive we must bond together” is worn on every person like a second skin.  The knowledge factory churning out conferences, discussions, arm-chair politicizing, temple get-togethers, angst via the internet, social media nationalism, fact-finding trips, and lectures will result in more of the same “preaching to the converted” and increasing the tribe of closet Hindus.  And it will have little effect on the self-centered, middle class Hindus marooned in a fantasy land of cricket, Bollywood, and racing to the land of riches. Can this myopic middle class lead the people in the struggle for justice?

History has shown that several revolutions have sparked from the bottom layer of society.  The French Revolution began when the Bastille was stormed by destitute people who were starving on the cold streets of Paris. Mao Tse-Tung and Stalin came from poor peasant families with very little education, yet shook the old order and heralded the Chinese and Russian Revolutions.  Mahatma Gandhi’s campaign against the British met with success when the peasants, the poor, the women, the untouchables, and the peoples from the lowest echelons walked with him.

In the fifties when the Congo bled with imperialist terror, an ardent nationalist Patrice Lumumba, disillusioned with the middle class elites, addressed the peasants and the workers.  They belonged to the bottom rung of humanity, below the radar of the nation, working like slaves, starving and bearing the brunt of the colonial whip, but they did not disappoint him.  They came with courage, determination, grit, and blazed the path to freedom with gale force.  The stunned Belgians had to give in reluctantly.  Patrice Lumumba proved that masses can unite more than the easy going middle class.  And maybe, that’s where India should focus –mobilizing the masses to attain the holy grail of the Hindus – Unity.

Way back, Swamy Vivekananda, unhappy with the selfish middle class articulated:

Let New India arise – out of the peasants’ cottage, grasping the plough; out of the huts of the fisherman, the cobbler, and the sweeper. Let her spring from the grocer’s shop, from beside the oven of the fritter-seller. Let her emanate from the factory, from marts, and from markets. Let her emerge from groves and forests, from hills and mountains.”

Posted in: Opinion

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