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Big muscles and ignoble minds; a very toxic cocktail for a just, equitable and reasoning society
High thinking has assumed fugitive proportions, strategic thinking to con the people, institutions, society and nation all to capture wealth and power as fast and as furiously as possible
The father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, had a frail but a fit body. More importantly, he had a magnificent mind and a kind heart. His frail body and strong mind were able to attract, inspire and command multitudes of people who followed him unquestioningly in the freedom struggle.
His disarmingly non-muscular methods of non-violence, non-cooperation and Satyagraha won freedom for India from the mighty British Empire without any major bloodshed. But he was backstabbed by leaders like Jinnah who foisted on the country a Hindu-Muslim divide, leading to huge bloodshed during Partition, around the time of Independence.
A charismatic and muscular leader like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and his armed struggle to win freedom for the country were able to attract only the radical elements, but were unable to inspire an entire nation. The imagination of the nation that was clearly swayed by the great qualities of a fragile and towering leader - truth, ahimsa, simple living and high thinking.
The definition of ‘high thinking’ has also drastically changed. It is no more thinking for the larger good of the society or the nation
The imagination of an independent India has gradually but surely changed during the last seven decades. Now, simple living is not a virtue anymore. It is looked down upon contemptuously by society. Take your neighbourhood shopkeeper or doctor or even the watchman of your apartment block. Poor guys, they have kept two standardised kits of welcome to offer to their customers- one for the elite customers who get down from a car and another for the ordinary customers who get down from a rickshaw or come walking. You are instantly classified into an elite person or an ordinary person by the facial recognition parameters of our society- based on your dress, your ornaments and your ‘vahana’. They have no sensors or brains to recognise your education, accomplishments or the strength of your character.
The definition of ‘high thinking’ has also drastically metamorphosed during the past few decades. It is no more thinking for the larger good of the society or the nation. High thinking nowadays has assumed fugitive proportions - strategic thinking to con the people, institutions, society and nation -all to capture wealth and power as fast and as furiously as possible.
If you add a little bit of muscle power to it, it becomes high and mighty thinking. Recently, the Hyderabad Police found it hard to arrest the promoters of a con investment-advisory firm based out of Indore which had not only duped gullible investors all over the country of at least ₹500 crore but also employed musclemen ‘bouncers’ at their offices to keep away the police and the victims. Nirav Modi and the likes of him who cunningly duped lamebrain banks of massive sums and cleverly fled the country are modern day icons of high thinking.
Muscle power is in full display in all its grandeur in our society, to cleanse the society of its ills. Mobs lynching suspected smugglers to protect the cow, moral police thrashing young unmarried couples in parks to safeguard traditional values, audience abusing a disabled man for not standing up during National Anthem in a cinema hall, a law enforcer, none less than a district magistrate taking the law into his own hands and beating a man black and blue for allegedly tarnishing his wife’s name on the social media, thugs pushing helpless people from running trains - our contemporary society is being reigned over by medieval forces.
Intellectual sycophants are inventing new waves and new economic theories to complement the physical might of medieval forces. Coupled with the procrastinating gatekeepers, it is presenting a very toxic cocktail and a powerful anathema for a just, equitable and reasoning society.
“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free,
where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls, Where words come out from the depth of truth,
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection,
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit,
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever widening thought and action- Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake”-
Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s wish – will remain just wishful thinking even 78 years after he left for his heavenly abode.
(The author is a retired corporate professional and a freelance writer)
This article first appeared in the National Herald on Sunday