Sunday, July 10, 2011

Unrest at the Bottom of the Pyramid

Just the other day, I was a hapless but captive audience for a rather loquatious taxi driver. After breaking the ice, commenting on my destination and how it along with a couple other places in the vicinity were regular drop off points for all cabbies in the area, he proceeded to launch into his main theme. The Government. According to him, we are as badly off or a little worse off than we were under the British. The oppressed masses are as miserable as they were earlier, the same governments(individuals) keep coming to power and merrily looting the country. If you're in power or close to it you will have money. The industralists will support anyone in power. Babus are in the best position though. As inflation and the cost of living rise, so too do their requirements. Where Rs50 used to be sufficient, one now needs Rs500. Who suffers? Why the masses ofcourse! Taxi drivers and their passengers. He then went on to the whole Maharashtra for the Maharashtrians school of thought. Maharashtra without Mumbai is poorer than the badlands of UP. He spoke about this Police inspector that he once had as a passenger, who asked him why he didn't stay in his home town in UP and do something. Why did he have to come to Mumbai taking away from the Maharashtrian Manoos. My cabbi's reply was something along the lines of "Mumbai is not the only place in Maharashtra. Instead of stopping people from coming here and working, why don't Maharashtrian politicians spend more time developing the rest of Maharashtra giving the rest of the Maharashtrians a better life. Why are farmers in eastern Mahashtra killing themselves and why are Maharashtrians starving in the interiors of Maharashtra? Is Mumbai the only place that needs ministers, babus and laws?" That ofcourse took him to his primary issue which was the Brahmin rule. BJP or Congress, they're a bunch of Brahmins bleeding the country dry. Through the ages Brahmins didn't have to work. If you were born Brahmin, you had a license to live off everyone else's effort but you still had all the power. When we won our independence it was with educated leaders. Then Nehru and his successors (Brahmins) took over and the whole country went down. They made sure the Brahmins continued to make money doing nothing more strenuous than sitting on their collective asses, while the Kshatrias did their bit to keep them in power and keep the rest of the populace in their place. I tried pointing out that it was the same downtrodden masses that insisted on voting the same brahmins into power and that got me another volley of fluent hindi telling me that the masses were coerced into voting a certain way and those that were free, didn't vote. We were closing in on my destination, so I asked him what was the solution to all this. Their time is coming to an end, was his answer. The Brahmins may call it Kalyug, but their time is up. They have misused their position for too long and have become far too arrogant. They will fall. Just you wait and see.
This guy isn't a one-off case. Its the fourth or fifth time someone has said something like this to me after the middle east started to burn. A change will come. The masses will rise up against the corrupt government. My question is, what then? You bring down the existing government and then what? Who or what fills in the void left in the system? It's very easy to point out defects in the existing system. What are we to do about it? If not one of Sonia's puppets who then will lead the country? Will the group that controls this great economic powerhouse, this emerging behemoth, this market of a billion plus consumers... Will they choose to clean up a rotting system, or will they succomb to the lure of easy pickings and lap up what's offered, leaving the bottom of the pyramid exactly where it is? Or will we have nation wide riots like in the middle east with the country descending down an exceedingly slippery path into mayhem and anarchy? While I hope not, my taxi driver seems convinced that a war is headed towards us. And this one will not be religious. It will be between the castes.