Millennium Post

Talking Shop: Lost Kohinoors

It is the genetic makeup of Indians, brought up tough, to grin away even as a harsh reality maims us. History is once again revisiting us

Talking Shop: Lost Kohinoors

"All propaganda has to

be popular and (has to)

accommodate itself to

the comprehension of the

least intelligent of those

whom it seeks to reach."

— Adolf Hitler

Today, we all speak harshly of Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Zenghis Khan, Joseph Stalin and Benito Andrea Mussolini, or of our new glorified megalomaniacs. What we oft forget is that oppression and suppression is a process that history has seen the world's most ruthless leaders embracing for centuries, time and time again, though faltering in the end-game. One of them did nearly succeed—Adolf Hitler, who is said to have committed suicide in a bunker at the end of World War II along with his love Eva Braun, married for but a day. But if we were to believe Irving Wallace's fiction in 'The Seventh Secret', Lady Eva was finally found fetching goodies for an allegedly alive and aware Hitler well into the 1960s.

Let's rewind to the process of subversion, which found India nearly 300 years back. At that time, our self-subservient Rajas and Nawabs fell victim to avariciousness spurred by a need for self-preservation, seeing them thrust the masses they ruled into penury and more. At that time in India's history, it was the English East India Company that arrived in massive wooden ships to discomfit us, using deceit and their woodies to divide and rule, forcing our frolicking nation into slavery and misery.

Ironically, that once-Trojan ruler empire today sits atop the Kohinoor and displays it with shameless pride in Her Majesty's gallery in the Tower of London, as if the Lady quasi-ruling that nation earned it. She didn't. Her ancestors plundered it and more from India, as one of India's gutsy leaders pointed out in a speech at Oxford University in 2015. The audience applauded, but that doesn't change the fact that the Kohinoor is not showcased in any museum in India, where it was found and belongs. For the uninitiated, this world-best stone weighing 105.6 carats (21.12 grams) is now part of the British Crown Jewels, currently set in the Crown of the Queen Mother.

More than Kohinoor

The now-lost Kohinoor is claimed to have been found in India's Kollur Mine during the period of the Kakatiya dynasty. It is no longer with India, as isn't our temporal destiny or dynasty. I say this since the present day is seeing India getting eviscerated and decimated even as we continue to laugh and cackle. But truth be told, history hasn't always been unkind to us. The Mughals never enfeebled or emasculated us, as didn't the Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas, the three Tamil dynasties that ruled over the south of India during the time of King Asoka.

Enough of this history lesson; let's fast-forward to the present. The new morrow is quite gloomy and self-effacing. What's more unnerving is that Indians, despite facing the brunt of this new-age hammer, are refusing to recognize the fact that they are in trouble. Indicators of every kind, including macro- and micro-economic, are beeping out an alarming trend, that a free fall is in place and there is no stopping this azimuthal glacier from throwing our lives asunder and trivializing crores of people.

The average Indian is facing the brunt of a meltdown like never before. Everyone is facing this ire but most remain frigid and few admit or accept this reality. Unemployment is at staggering highs, incomes and salaries are down, daily living costs are up, religious intolerance is at never-before highs and the less said about communal tensions the better. On almost every global index of comparison, we are faltering. But much of the nation's people continue to ignore, while some even rejoice. If this were not enough, COVID-19 is gnashing its teeth again and the numbers of infected are rising scarily, but we continue to stay unmasked, perhaps because we need the free space to thumb our noses at it.

Let's get personal

Rajesh Kapoor (name changed) was lead cameraperson with a top TV channel in Delhi for decades. Today, he is running a shop selling plastic utensils and other paraphernalia in a local market. Ashwini Kumar (name unchanged) was a proud manager of a hotel in Himachal Pradesh. He still is. Only, he is now also a cleaner and cook, since he can't afford hired help. Naveen Upadhyaya (name unchanged) was a dhaba-owner (roadside restaurant) in Tezpur, Assam. He still is. He is now also a driver and cleaner of cars, for he needs to make ends meet. And as a final example, Chandan Kumar (name unchanged) worked for a top corporate collecting news item to share with one of India's largest Corporate Chairmen on the Forbes list; he now delivers newspapers, his swanky motorcycle traded in for a bicycle.

Times have changed. People's lives are changing. I was amazed by the gullibility (or is it absolute ignorance) of a senior journalist I met the other day—he told me "Sab khush hain. Desh tarakki kar raha hai (Everyone is happy. The country is progressing"). I want nothing more, but that my country and people flourish. But what I see around me is stunning, dangerous and debilitating.

I shall not list the price of vegetables or petrol or pizzas or edible oils; I have done that before. We all face this reality now. Some find it grim, some grist, while others have just stopped eating. I shall not talk inflation or price-rise, for I am informed by higher powers that something like that just doesn't exist. I shall not talk about the possibility of recession, for I am told that there is no such threat (which also means that when I wrote two years back that we were already into a recession, I was terribly wrong and off-mark).

What happens now?

A lot can, provided we have an open mind with fewer barbs in the head. I am an optimist; we all are. There can always be a better tomorrow. There shall be one, provided that we move in the right direction. I hate repeating myself, and there's more hope than faith in me now. The world is clearly in crisis—be it the COVID pandemic, politics, a crass lack of true leadership and vision, price rise and inflation, or the threat of new wars. If the Ukraine gaffe were not enough, we have now Taiwan coming under threat, with idiots flexing their atrophied muscles. No amount of power or Earth mass is enough, it seems, even though most people in these land-grab nations don't have enough to eat or feed their children.

Change the tack. Reduce the flak. I beseech today's world rulers to be leaders by choice, not by fake vote or deceit. Do not tread waters just for today, learn and teach us too to swim for tomorrow. For, in posterity lies remembrance, and in remembrance lies the true respect that shall last beyond you. As another believer named John C Maxwell said years back, "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way."

Damnit, even Spiderman understood this, that with great power comes great responsibility. And history remembers all. As we do Hitler, and our very own Kohinoor.

The writer is a veteran journalist and communications specialist. He can be reached on Views expressed are personal

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