A Blog on Mythology and occasionally on Reality.

This is a Blog on Mythology, both Indian and World and especially the analysis of the myths.

In effect, the interpretation of the inherent Symbolism.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Hunger-strikes – Modern-day Relevance (Part 2)

In the last article we read about the historical and mythological references of hunger-strike. Today we will talk about the present-day relevance of the same.

Is fasting-unto-death a good means of protest?
Let’s say it is. Just as occasional fasting cleanses our physical self, fasting for a cause will cleanse our national self, at least that’s the initial belief and we will go ahead with that. It will give vent to the cause to surface and gain recognition especially when the nation is going thru such a terrible crisis. After all Gandhiji did manage to get freedom, stop riots, etc. didn’t he?
Let’s say it is not. Why should a nation fall prey to an individual’s idiosyncrasies of trying an archaic weapon to hold sway to a democratically elected government? In the current times, is this a matured way of fighting for a cause? Why should the state machinery be invoked to tackle a potentially huge law and order situation which can get riotous at the slightest of provocation at such ‘congregations’?
Is this really a potent weapon? As long as some of these fasts are undertaken by the well-known members of the civil society, it’s ok. Morphine when used pharmaceutically, converts into analgesics or painkillers used for many medical purposes. The same morphine can be abused by creating heroin for illicit usage leading to drug abuse. What if we have some key criminals in Tihar Jail resorting to fasting unto death if they are not given bail? Should the government decide to sit at the discussion table to negotiate with them? (This is not to be taken in a derogatory sense nor should be seen as a comparison of the Tihar Jail inmates with the recent followers of hunger-strike, this is just to bring a theoretical reference to the abuse of a potent weapon, something akin to a kitchen knife being a kitchen implement for a cook but a sharp weapon in the hand of a deranged violent person). The whole idea of the said analogy is to impress upon the fact that the times of fast-unto-death are probably over. It does not work well, especially in a democracy. Please note that all the hunger-strikes that we have seen in history were against autocratic and fascist regimes. A democracy gives you many more weapons to fight the war – condition that the electorate has to remember the issues that matter to him/her and not given in to short-term material gain and idolization of individuals. Today we have elections, referendums or plebiscite, judiciary, media, etc. to resort to. A fast-unto-death is no more a potent weapon in a modern democracy, and we have seen that in the case of Jessica Lal murder case, where judgment was reversed due to media and social pressure.
In the current scenario, let us examine as to how helpful was the fast by Anna Hazare and the role of the government, who henceforth will be referred to as politicians to drive home my point. Anna Hazare’s fast received a nation-wide support, unexpected to both Anna’s team and the politicians. Before the initiative became a movement and Anna earned his halo, the politicians bent down and so-called accepted his demands and decided to talk. The politicians decided to give in to their demands and agreed to form a joint group. The fast is called off and Round 1 goes to Anna! Round 2; groups are formed; marred by initial comments by the politicians and their plants leading to some discomfort, but tackled. Allegations and mud-slinging goes on and off, and cross-discussions lead to minor squabbles. Round 2 is a draw with nothing significant happening. The discussions begin and the politicians now show their true colour by not agreeing to anything that Anna’s team said and behind the closed doors there is chaos. The matter is debated and dissected to no end till the sheer brute force of the politicians frustrates Anna’s team to withdraw from the discussion table. Round 3 go to the politicians. Now Anna wants to go on fast again. People are beginning to get bored with the whole issue, and the movement has been reduced to an activity by a well-meaning person, with little sustaining power. Round 4 seems to be going to the politicians. This is the classic artwork of true-bred Indian politicians! Outwardly they bent to concede a short-term victory, but internally made life difficult by creating roadblock every moment, till the subject matter had taken a backseat in the collective mindspace of the people in general. What happened with Baba Ramdev was no different and to quote a leading newspaper which sums up the whole episode – “first the licking then the kicking”! That’s our men who we take pains to elect or rather do not take pains to elect by staying away from the process of elections.

It is important to remember that the current day politicians are not Nehru, Patel and Azad anymore just as the fasters are not Mahatma’s any more, needless to say that the India of 2011 is not India of the 40’s anymore. In such changed scenario, does fasting-unto-death work?
You tell me.

1 comment:

  1. I take the example of the knife - what if i have to use it for self defence?
    democracy gives weapons like elections, referendums or plebiscite, judiciary, media, -
    But when all fails. Media - SO ONLY if you have a case big enough for a media to focus at, you can use it. so what happens to lesser crimes? Judiciary - we all know " justice delayed is justice denied" i dont need to give n number of examples.
    Elections - i ( Indian ) am emotional/ regionally influenced / illiterate to take a right decision. And for I's who can take, i dont have a choice. So i have to elect best out of the worst.
    What next? So i use the knife for self defence.