Wednesday 26 November 2014

Sequel to ' The Transitional Era in India '

This is a sequel to my previous post regarding India's present transitional era in its history.
  I had put up that post not to scare you all but to tell you the truth, so that Indians may know about the times which are coming, and be better prepared for them..
 I had said that the present historical period of transition in Indian history is from a feudal agricultural society to a modern industrial one.
  The seeds of this transition were sown by our British rulers. No doubt the British did an enormous amount of damage to India, causing horrible miseries to our people ( see my blogs ' Dinner at the German Embassy 'and ' The Great Bengal Famine ' on my blog ). But in this process,( though for their own benefit ) the British introduced a certain limited  amount of Western technology in India.
  After Independence in 1947 the Indian Government under the leadership of Pt. Nehru laid the base of a heavy industry in India by setting up steel plants, etc and creating many engineering colleges. A certain amount of industrialization was achieved on the basis of that heavy industrial base. This, no doubt, created large dents in our feudal society, but did not destroy it totally. Feudal thinking and practices like casteism, communalism, superstitions and discrimination against women are still widely prevalent in our society, and these feudal remnants, which are still very powerful, have to be destroyed if our country is to progress.
  Some people say that they have already been destroyed. That is entirely untrue. Casteism is still a powerful force in our society. What does ' honour killing ' prove ? Is it not correct that most non scheduled caste people look down on the scheduled castes ? How many non scheduled caste people will willingly give their daughters in marriage to a scheduled caste boy ? Some time back in a University in Tamilnadu boys of the Vanniyar caste ( a non sc caste ) fought a pitched battle with boys of the scheduled castes. Scheduled caste boys who marry a non scheduled caste girl are sometimes killed.
  What do dowry deaths prove ? Do they not show how girls are often treated in our society ? What do communal riots, which often occur even today, prove ? What does the widespread belief in astrology prove ? What does the widespread belief in ' babas ' ( 'godmen' ) show ?
  The truth is that we are still largely a very backward country, socially and mentally. So a tremendous, long drawn, struggle has to be waged under the leadership of our modern minded, patriotic intelligensia if India is to emerge from its backwardness and become a modern, highly industrialized prosperous country.
  I will conclude this post with a sher ( couplet ) from the great Urdu poet Firaq Gorakhpuri which in two lines describes some features of the transitional era through which we are passing :
  " Har zarre par ek kaifiyat-e-neemshabi hai
     Ai saaqi-e- dauran, yeh gunahon ki ghadi hai "
The word ' zarre 'means particles, ' kaifiyat ' means condition, ' neem ' means half, ; shab ' means night, ' saaqi ' means the wine serving woman, ' dauran ' means era, and ' gunahon ' means sins.
 in my opinion this sher is one of the greatest shers ever written, and ranks along with the best shers of Ghalib, the greatest Urdu poet. In a marvel of condensation it describes the transitional era our society and nation are going through.
  As mentioned in my previous post, the transitional era is a very painful and turbulent period in history, full of turmoil, disorder, crimes, intellectual ferment, etc. India is presently passing through this period in history. Feudal remnants like casteism, communalism, superstitions and discrimination against women are persisting and are still strong, as is evident from the phenomena of ' honour killing ', dowry deaths, communal riots, etc
   It is a ' gunahon ki ghadi ' ( time of sins ) from the point of view of both the feudal minded people, as well as of the modern minded people. The feudal minded people regard inter caste and inter religious love marriages as a gunah ( sin ), sometimes deserving ' honour killing '. They regard ' dating ' with a person of the opposite sex before marriage as a gunah. They regard scheduled castes as inferior.
  On the other hand, the modern minded people regard ' honour killing ' as a gunah, they see nothing wrong in love marriages, and demand genuine equality for women, scheduled castes, etc
 Thus we see a clash and combat of values between the old and the new, as happens in a transitional age. It is a ' gunahon ki ghadi ', whichever way you look at it. Feudal and modern ideas co-exist in the transitional period, battling with each other.
 One is reminded of Shakespeare's line in ' Macbeth ' :
" Fair is foul and foul is fair ". This is precisely the situation in India today in this transitional age. What one group of people regard as fair is regarded as foul by another, and vice versa.. Values of the old era, e.g. belief in the caste system, start crumbling, and are sought to be reversed by champions of the new society, which has not yet been created. A storm is blowing over the country, which is likely to last about 20 years or so, a storm which will be terrible for many, but which will sweep away the filth of feudalism and backwardness in our country.
  " Kaifiyat -e- neemshabi ' means literally ' condition of half night '. This means firstly that we are living in an age which is neither night nor day, neither the one nor the other, neither medeival nor modern, but somewhere in between. The whole of society has been thrown into convulsions, chaos and strife. A tremendous amount of social churning is taking place. What was regarded as right earlier, is regarded as wrong today ( e.g. the caste system ), and vice versa.
 Secondly, the word ' neemshabi ' indicates a mental condition of being dazed, as we often are when we wake up in the middle of the night due to some reason. " Neemshabi ' implies that the night is only half complete. The words ' har zarre 'indicate that everyone is in a dazed or stupefied mental condition.
  In Urdu poetry, a ' saaqi 'is not just a woman who serves wine. She is also often a person to whom one can tell one's innermost thoughts. When the poet says ' Ai saaqi-e-dauran ' he is really addressing people of this ( transitional ) age.

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