Thursday, August 10, 2006


For a generation, a society, to believe in a philosophy took one man, really.

Think of how difficult it is to convince a populace of a tenet, to unite them under the aegis of a single idelogy, by thinking of how unsuccessful a generation, that India which was unified before independence, has been in making its children understand what they believed in. Non-violence died long back, sometime before Gandhi did. It was as if Ahimsa had a meaning only until the fight for freedom from imperialists was on. Once that battle was won it lost it dissolved - corpus and will.

I'll be a trifle defensive and say rightaway that I'm not vouching for Ahimsa. I don't know if its right or if it can withstand the quicksand of practicality (we call it realpolitik these days). I'm too naive for that. Or maybe I'm too informed without having being there and done that. But I fail to understand how a path of action followed by so many billions could be so summarily abandoned especially when they so strongly and so obvoiusly believed in it? You can argue with the non-aligned movement and how atleast under Nehru we were a peace loving nation which we're even now. But still how could parents not teach our midnight's children what they stood for? Or did they actually stand for it?

I'll look at it from the other side. What about war? Is there anything called victory in war? With all the abstruse terms floating around - psychological victory, strategic vic, tactical vic - somewhere even the focus has shifted from the noun onto the adjective. History has taught us that men and weapons make bad bedfellows. The judgement of human beings simply cannot be trusted to save humanity from disaster. Muhammed of Ghazni attacking us 17 times or Alexander conquering most of Eurasia after bloodbaths didn't cause as much damage as a World War did. Japan has learnt its lessons well. There is more intelligence, more life, more beauty at stake now. What is meant to be a deterrent doesn't take time to become an agent of pre-emptive attack. Victory in war can at best be Pyrrhic and even that, most of the times, is overestimated. You can say Israelis have been more sinned against than sinning or the Hezbollah militia have a right to their freedom but it doesn't change a thing and that's exactly what is sad. Someday it'll become so complicated, and absurd, that our collective fate - the kind that you must've read about in sci-fi novels - has to be decided by a throw of dice. Words like Cataclysm, Apocalyse, Armageddon will be in our newpapers once and after that no word shall ever be printed.

I respect our soldiers. They put their lives on the line. For people like us who care about them mostly when they die and maybe moreso if they have saved a few civilians before dying. If this is repugnant it's as much of a truth as the view that soldiers are perpetrators of some of the worst human rights violations in high insurgency areas all over the world. The concept of a nation is an epic truth, that of safeguarding it is sounder, and even the rationalism that it's a job like the doctor's or engineer's and everyone has to contribute in their own way makes sense but . . . Why is it that today in our armed forces there is a growing shortage of personnel? Maybe our youth have found better, less riskier alternatives to earn a living. Does that make fighting for one's country a last resort, or one of the last options? Is the concept of patriotism losing relevance because you can't see the bad guys from the good ones?

Life verily exacts its revenge when something that you've stood for all along stands compromised. Soldiers make such choices and I respect them for that. You read first hand accounts of the World Wars, or watch Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line and you'll get an idea. The only thing that war gives for sure is scars. It leaves countless sentinels who have fought for freedom, with guns and death, with a numbness that makes the rest of their days a living hell. The saddest thing is to come back home a hero and then lock yourself up and question whether whatever it was that you fought for was right. Was worth it.

Someone said 'everything's fair in love and war' after which people have been repeating it for ages. This thing is so old I bet no one even thinks about it before saying it. This statement in a nutshell says this: the goals of love and war are the highest ideals for which any man can strive. So all actions stand redeemed in the process of accomplishment of those ideals.

But really if you ask me maybe most things are fair in love (ok can I have some more time to decide? :-)) but war? .. no comments ... you should ask the guy who first said it.


Anonymous said...

i dont think the nonviolence path was given up all at once..during partiton yes but after that slowly.. we were mostly nonviolent when we had somethng to fight for and once that was done we turned 'practical' the time mrs gandhi was in power we had changed as a nation..
i dont think we truly believed in ahimsa..just the legend of gandhi was too huge..

vasco de gama said...

thin red line is a crazy movie..also apocalypse now

wat ideals r y talikn abot man? love is mostly sex. and most of them knoe that but wont admit

satyajit said...

@anonymous : if by practical u mean more realistic in understanding that nonviolence wudnt take us very far then yes.. but we mostly remained non aligned until end of nehru..but thats foreign affairs.. wat abt within the country

@ vasco: :)

PritS said...

its just the adjusting nature of human kind. Or moreover the selfishness. Whatever helps you today, is the in thing, rest is waste.

Ruchika said...

We are slowly becoming so self-centered, that all we care about now is that nothing should disturb our status quo in life.. whatever helps maintain our life running its normal course is ok.. that is why we block out tragic events saying things like 'mainu kee?!' (what do i care?).. 'practical' is a euphemism for an "i dont care" attitude.. but its not 'cool' anymore to be like that! when we were teenagers, then perhaps we could get away with the damn-care way of thinking.. but not anymore.. we should be more responsible towards ourselves, our immediate associations and the world in general too..

and yes i agree that there is such a thing as 'mass karma' where a whole lot of people have to suffer due to the wrong-doings of the past.. that is why we have so many more natural disasters these days! its probably nature's way of saying 'get off my earth!'.. apocalypse in small ways, but the message seems to be clear!