Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Is it Time Yet for the Empowerment of Masses?

When we speak of history, we are always enchanted by the political maneuvers of the kings and queens. I remember in our history texts there used to be a paragraph on social history. That generalized the social norms of the period but rarely accounted for individuals. The mass has always been identified as the "mass". There has been a very little identification of the masses except as followers or subject of other leaders. This is what motivates people to step-up in their professional sphere to make a name for themselves.

However, do we really figure in this scheme of corporate enslavement at all?

Monarchy has been abolished. Power has shifted to democratically elected leaders. But as we have noticed, not much has changed. Power struggles reign supreme during the election seasons. In fact, after the abolition of slavery, many of the existing monarchs chose to represent their subjects as democratically elected representatives and their subjects, out of their inherited reverence for the dynasty has paid back in votes. Nowadays, we still see dynasties albeit in a different form. It only takes one member of a family to rise in the scheme of nepotism. We see conflicts amongst families and their segregation into branches. Yet we forget one crucial thing. In politics, there is nothing called bad publicity. As long as you are in news, you are alive as a politician.

So, history and our lives still depend on these leaders whose subordination we suffer, by choice or otherwise. The kind of representatives that we see nowadays shows a definite presence of a glitch in the system. In India, we prefer constancy, as it seems. There are rare upheavals in the legislature and though the members ought to retire, there is little regulation on the limitation of one's capacity to stand for elected offices. Granted, these offices are onerous. Granted, you and I would probably not be interested in putting a pause in our lives for the welfare of the society. But would you not consider, say, standing for the presidency in your college? You consider that because you know you can help people you care about. It is also a status but more importantly, it is a privilege and a responsibility conferred upon you by the peers who trust your judgment.

Is it the case though in the polls? Do we know our leaders at all? 

Yet we are electing somebody to an office that is responsible for our well-being. We are relying on the oratory skills of the star campaigners of the political parties who have the privilege to fly across the country to spread words about the party's policies. Why are we relying on promises made by a third person who will not be accountable in whatsoever manner should the candidate fail as a representative? Should we not place more importance on the words of the candidate instead of a broad ideology? At the end of the day, he is not accountable for not adhering to the ideology but for his responsibility as a representative of the people.

Again, our lifestyles have deterred us from thinking clearly. Gone are the days of hereditary businesses. There used to be a time when people would consider working under somebody disrespectful. Then we started following the American dream. But we often forget that the American dream respects every individual working in whatever capacity. What it essentially respects is hard work. The concept of family pride is essentially a feudal concept. The interaction of these two concepts has developed a complex and dysfunctional standard of respect in India. We respect people on the basis of arbitrary standards like proficiency as an orator (especially in English) and ease of climbing ladders. I remember how Mr. Darcy was highly conscious of Elizabeth's social standing and lack of connections. We think in this society, that has changed in presence of the mandate of due procedure. But where influence is the key, there cannot be an efficient system of due procedure. We may not have noble titles anymore but our connections still determine our ease of progress in life and money and position determine our connections. Except for maybe a few jobs, most of the private job interviews are based on arbitrary standards. Nepotism has merely taken a different form in this society.

Now why are we speaking of Nepotism at all? 

Because we are so used to it, we never actually seem to complain against it. It is a shocking system that most of us internalize during our amateur years. That is reflected in our professional sphere. The emphasis on the ability to network is a derivative of the same system. Again, why are we speaking about it? We are doing so because it has created the world of business that we live in. We have not shifted to a regime of equality. It is probably not possible to have such a system based on human judgment. As long as our judgment is derived from our experiences, it will be biased. So, instead of kings and queens, we have capitalists.

Now there is nothing wrong with ambition. But capitalism is not only ambition. Combined with nepotism, it created empires. Thus, the wealth of the world is still concentrated in few hands. So we depend on these hands for our daily bread. To these hands, the middle class is essentially the subject of a social experiment. I saw this post on Facebook praising Bill Gates’ big heart because he said that he will recruit from India because otherwise there will be Microsoft in India. He is not being a philanthropist. He is just foreclosing the market against him. The huge salaries that companies offer are results of their competition against one another.

Again, why are we considering all these? 

We were speaking of representatives of people, after all. These are related. In India, in view of the enormous population and disparity amongst several economic classes, we are unwillingly forced to participate in a competition to secure our lifestyles. The fastidious lives that we lead are results of corporations painting a rosy picture of a happiness achieved through materialism. That helps those corporations we work for in two ways. We work harder to earn more from them. Again, we spend our earnings on most of their products. So whatever we earn goes back to a select few at the end. Their market dominance never changes.

What has this to do with our representatives?

Everything. This busy life has distanced us from politics. Technology is more relevant to our knowledge than the concern for social welfare. We forget that we are the source of power and we rarely become the change that we want in the society. We complain about a lot of stuff. But it takes an honest person dedicated to solving such problems to step-up as a representative in the legislative assembly. Most of the thinkers in schools and colleges will grow up to be part of this vicious corporate cycle instead of politicians. I know I would prefer that. This is because, as long as I do not have the power to really effect a change, I can blame the system.

Written by Sayantani Saha
Writer, dreamer of world exploration and lover of high fantasy

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