Monday, January 13, 2014

Out of Emergency, a modern India emerges out of chaos

My globe-trotting sister INGER is visiting PUNE, INDIA this week.
I'm vicariously tagging along by reading "INDIA: A WOUNDED CIVILIZATION" by V.S. NAIPAUL.
The Trinidad author writes an Indian visit during THE EMERGENCY, a controversial, 21-month state of emergency prompted by then-Prime Minister INDIRA GANDHI.
Naipaul writes of one of the Emergency's effects: A new view of life within the country emerged among some residents.
Naipaul writes about a view of poverty that had developed during the Independence movement :
"(First Prime Minister Jawaharlal) Nehru had once observed that a danger in India was that poverty might be deified. Ganghianism had had that effect. The Mahatma's simplicity had appeared to make poverty holy, the basis of all truth, and a unique Indian possession."
This view of poverty had stifled individual and societal growth in the country, Naipaul argues.
The Emergency began to shift attitudes away from a comfortable status quo built upon caste and discrimination, cemented by religion and ritual.
Naipaul writes:
"With Independence and growth, chaos and a loss of faith, India was awakening to its distress and the cruelties that had always lain below its apparent stability, its capacity simply for going on. Not everyone now was content simply to have his being. The old equilibrium had gone, and at the moment all was chaos. But out of this chaos, out of the crumbling of the old Hindu system, and the spirit of rejection, India was learning new ways of seeing and feeling."
Naipaul's take on the "growing pains" of the emerging modern India is fascinating, more so perhaps when considering the contemporary India of call centers, smartphones and digital TV channels with wall-to-wall cricket coverage.


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