Millennium Post

Countering dichotomy of power

Two of the projects that seemed most incorruptible in some way or the other came under scorching heat as Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party faced the accusation of being corruptible like other players of the game and Tehelka’s editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal was accused of committing sexual misconduct and rape against one of his junior colleagues. The extent of onslaught or accusation was not the same and the dissimilarity is too obvious, perhaps to a degree that drawing parallel between two may sound blasphemous (especially if you are an Aam Aadmi Party admirer). And yes, the accusation of corruptibility of AAP is much less substantive than the one against Tarun Tejpal, but the reason I draw those two together is not because of any imposed resemblance between two on the breadth or scope of those scandals, but because they unfailingly reveal an essential feature of a democratic system and the interplay between two of its most prominent wings: mainstream political parties and mass media.

Be it New Delhi or Washington DC, the centre of any acting democracy is essentially seen as the hub of corruption, depravity and inaptitude. The two main players of the world of a democratic process, namely the media and the political parties, are under the constant inspection of incertitude, ridiculing and catcalling and churned out conspiracy theories. The most remarkable feature of this brilliant illumination under which they have to be relentlessly scrutinised, is that they create this world themselves, thus redefining the participatory democracy as an internal affair between a small clique. And in that aura of some healthy doubt and some injurious parochialism and a lot of exclusion, democracy rolls on with all its grudging nuances and maddening disappointments, mostly achieving the task of not being able to do anything.

However this doubt, this eternal game of making and unmaking of kings and idols also has another aspect: the building up of hope, the development of new idols and newer idolatry, the gradual exposition and development of a new messiah who apparently arrives in the scene to rid the corruption ridden debased town off its decadence and bring about a braver newer world. We, the common populace, cherish this part of the game as much as we wait for their fall. When we see a new Avatar, we cheer as hard as our lungs allow, we praise and worship our newly given deliverer, putting our faith almost as if in a trance, holding nothing back, even though deep inside our heart we know this ‘All hail the new king’ would not last long, that the recapitulation and final descent of those figures is inescapable and often imminent. Still we invest our beliefs, partly because the eternal cynicism becomes wearisome at a point, and partly because it is how the democratic system works: through rejuvenation of faith of its ‘peasants’ through foddering them, once in a while, with a new messiah who, singlehandedly will rescue them all. Tejpal or Kejriwal, in a direct or a circuitous way, is but the upshot of this eternal game.

Does that mean all the daring work that Tehelka did under Tejpal becomes groundless? Does that mean they were but a sham in the name of a failed democracy? Of course not! Their contribution truly transformed, strengthened and reinforced the way media takes part in the democratic discourse of our nation and the recent scandal has to take away nothing from all that glory. However, it is more about an individual than the network itself, for it is the individual who is made to bear the burden of ushering the new dawn, and that’s why we keep on seeking not just a name but a face of an incorruptible idealist, undaunted in the face of power, challenging the behemoths and emerging victorious. It is ironic how democracy, a process designed to undermine the role of the individual, ends up catering to our insatiable appetite of having one savior after the other, only to find the former one as fallible and as tainted as the last one, and thus to reinitiate our hunt for the next savior to be.

And here comes the act of balance: the strength lying in the dichotomy of power. Even though we are rendered incapable of seeing beyond an individual, even though all our dreams and heartbreaks are represented by a single face, the marching order does not come from whom we perceive as the general. On the perspective of the system, it is not important for the idols to remain eternal, or even universal.

Some may worship Kejriwal while others would prefer Narendra Modi, but that detail is really inconsequential. What is important is to keep your faith in at least one fairy tale, to be the follower of at least one path and to remain a believer even after the fall of your messiah and to seek, not for a new order but a new idol within the current order of things. It is not required to believe your deliverer to the ultimate extent, what is important is to believe the message of deliverance. And thus the march goes on, from nowhere to nowhere, even after the fall of the general, for the march to continue, all is required but a bunch of followers blinded by their belief of doubt.

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