Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Why keep blogging? - II

There is  another reason why I keep blogging.  But for that I have to  first tell you why Ramachandra Guha thinks India is a 50% democracy. In this talk, he says that India is the world's most unnatural country and the most unlikely democracy. It was thought that a country should have one language and one religion while India is a majority Hindu country that has more Muslims than Pakistan and more Christians than Australia and a multiplicity of languages many of which have their own script and rich literary tradition.

Both before and after Independence many foreigners have doubted whether India will survive as one country. After every corruption scandal, natural disaster like flood or earthquake or after every failure of an institution doubts will crop up about Indian democracy. But India has not Balkanised. Military rule has not happened. As a person from Indonesia remarked in the talk I linked to earlier, 'You at least have General elections. We have elections of Generals.'

A personal note on elections: At the time of every election, I can hear the servant of the day say how much different parties will pay them for their votes. (Both DMK and AIADMK are equally culpable. Probably the other parties don't pay because they don't have a chance of winning. Some say that they will take money from both parties and vote for the party of their choice.) Prior to the last General Election,I heard that there was an ad in some Tamil newspaper offering a certain sum of money to anyone willing to cut off the finger on which the voting mark is put so that the person could vote a second time.  I don't know if anyone took up the offer. If this sort of thing happens in Tamil Nadu, which is one of the better governed states in India, one can imagine what may be happening in many other parts of the country.Ramachandra Guha writes in India after Gandhi:
Is India a proper democracy or a sham one? When asked this question, I usually turn for recourse to an immortal line of the great Hindi comic actor Johnny Walker. In a film where he plays the hero"s sidekick, Walker answers every query with the remark: 'Boss, phipty-phipty'. When asked what prospect he has of marrying the girl he so deeply loves, or of getting the job he so dearly desires, the sidekick tells the boss that the chances are roughly even, 50 per cent of success, or 50 per cent of failure.
Is India a democracy, then? The answer is well, phipty-phipty. It mostly is when it comes to holding elections and permitting freedom of movement and expression.  It mostly is not when it comes to the functioning of politicians and political institutions. However, that India is even a 50 per cent democracy flies in the face of tradition, history and the conventional wisdom. 
My life after the stroke can also be said to be phifty-phifty. A major reason for it being 50% and not lower, apart from the support of family and friends, is the blog. It gives me something to do and keeps me out of everyone's hair. There were 10 years before the blog which I managed to get through and I am not eager to revisit that period.

One conversation between Jaya and a physiotherapist shows the importance of the blog. On seeing me move my head this way and that while using the neuro headset, the physiotherapist asked, 'Doesn't his neck start paining?' Jaya replied, 'If he doesn't type, it will start paining!' As this hindi song says, life must go on and the blog helps in this process. I saw a quote by Nietzche in Susan Sontag's essay, AIDS as a Metaphor which sums up the role of the blog:

Thinking about illness! - To calm the imagination of the invalid, so that at least he should not, as hitherto, have to suffer more from thinking about his illness than from the illness itself- that, I think, would be something! It would be a great deal!

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