Thursday, December 31, 2009



IS the New Year going to be different from the old? Many in this country, millions upon millions, would certainly like to ring out the old and ring in the new with new hopes and expectations. They would wish the spectre that haunted them in the past – natural calamities, impoverishment, unemployment, fratricidal clashes, caste, communal and terrorist violence – to disappear and not keep company with them in the journey ahead.

There is distress all over the country. The reality, grim and grinding, beckons the nation to a desperate prospect. Deep-rooted fatalism, dumb acceptance of misery, a raging sea of poverty, and a few islands of vulgar luxury, inhabited by a few who behave as if nothing has happened. It is too deep for tears. And this should disturb every sensitive Indian.

The cancers that have grown in the vitals of India are so horrendous that whole limbs may decay and die before some sort of curative effort succeeds in the rest of the system. Corruption has become so entrenched that all of us justify it as a fact of global life. It is a situation where "the best lack all conviction/ And the worst are full of passionate intensity/The things fall apart/The centre cannot hold/Mere anarchy loosed upon the world". It is the winter of our discontent.

Yes, to begin the New Year with forebodings may sound like a pessimist’s pastime. But we must face it with buoyant self-confidence. And the stout-hearts among us should not lose hope.

Caught in the immediacy of the present we may be agonizing over these maladies. But, there is still hope. "There is an ebb and tide in the affairs of man. Things will change". This may be the darkest hour before the radiant dawn. God has not gone bankrupt. He can make the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame cross the mountain. If past is any pointer to the future, there is indeed hope. There is resilience in our people, which no combination of adversities can kill. Our ideals and principles might appear to be in eclipse. But, eclipses are short-lived.

In an atmosphere surcharged with cynicism on the one hand and despair on the other, we would do well to remind ourselves that our present predicament is not unique. There was a time when many Indians sold their souls to foreign overlords and many among us despaired of ever liberating the country from the grip of foreign rule and from the corruption it bred. Yet, our leaders were able to dispel the gloom when it was at its darkest and to show the way not only to freedom from foreign rule, but also from the vices that polluted public life.

Yes, India in the past has seen many a crisis. But, the country lives on. The present ordeal too will pass and the country will again resume the path of progress. If one has eyes to see and ears to hear, this country is moving. It is bestirred by new urges. There is intense heart-searching, groping in the dark – not out of despair, but in the earnest hope of finding a way out.

The old value system has collapsed, but already an intense search has begun for new values for the establishment of a new morality in public life. Go out anywhere, amidst the din and bustle of the factory or vast expanses of the fields, in the beehive of busy offices or in the boisterous, crowded campuses – among men, women, the young and the old – you will hear a thousand and one questions why things have gone wrong and what’s the way out of it.

Dedicated men and women, sacrificing comfort and many allurements of the consumerist society are building a new India in the remote villages and hilly regions of this vast land of ours. There abound in this country today men and women of finest moral qualities, experts in their respective fields seeking to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to serve the community by disseminating it to the public.

They are playing their role in the building of this great country and are sharers, in common with others, in the triumphs and setbacks that come their way. In the prevailing darkness they move about like figures in silhouettes; soon the sun shall arrive and identify them, and among them shall be seen new leaders with a new message of enriched patriotism and a new resolve to make this land of ours a better place to live in. They give us reasons for hope. Hope, where there is despair. Light, where there is darkness. Joy, where there is sadness.

But, the saga of such endeavours is hardly publicised by the media addicted to the burlesque of present-day politics and the accompaniments of permissive morality, addiction to vicarious violence, and erotic and narcotic fantasies.

The New Year 2010 is upon us. Come, let us make it the hour before that radiant dawn. The present with all its unhappiness and misery will pass. It is the future that counts and it is that future that beckons to us. Beyond the winter of our discontent and despondence, there is the Spring of Hope!

Column by:

P. N. Benjamin

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