The Middle Class Can Spark No Revolution

The street seethes with the cries of desperate people, gives voice to their miseries, and flings much reviled rulers into the firing line.  Even though police stations burn all night and the sky rains bullets and fire, millions will still converge on the street and force the old order to pass into oblivion, as in France, Russia, China and recently Tunisia, Egypt and Syria.  Retribution comes unsought and suddenly, as years of injustice, hunger, oppression, and misery are piled on the people by tyrannical rulers.  The accumulated lava of human suffering finally erupts, like a volcano, into a fierce embrace of change in the wide open streets where the common man rules and the elites flee.

In India too, the streets are seething with injustice from the rule of the criminal crooks.   The rulers wear a shining mantle of a soaring GDP woven with poisonous threads of loot, incompetence, corruption and callous indifference. The minorities being the kingmaker and CBI in golden chains, the party is sitting pretty with coffers filled with unprecedented loot to the tune of 462 billion dollars.  It doesn’t matter that the price of onions, food, and fuel are rising geometrically, the air and water are polluted, medicines are spurious, the Pakistanis pump fake currency, the Dragon breathes fire every other day, scams keep popping up from every corner,  and the courts are hamstrung by the “kiss Sonia, kill Modi” dichotomy. Yet, there is no outrage, no gathering ground for an angry majority, no rebellion, no guns, no chafing nationalistic dissent, and no solidarity to fight the evils of the day.

Meanwhile, the Dynasty rules supreme, appeases Muslims, divides Hindus into castes, languages, and regions and frays the fabric of a United India with impunity.  Our religious leaders are in the Shangri La of “sarva dharma sama bhava,” followed by the peace brigade eulogizing over aman ki asha.”  Our business leaders want to do business with Pakistan so they can make money and the techno group is reluctant to sing the National anthem for fear it will dry up the projects coming from the West.  There is no chorus for a United Team India.  Like the proverbial elephant they are serving the tail, trunk or the body without a thought about the good of the whole elephant. Fragmentation, be it social or emotional is the order of the day, and there’s not a whiff of anxiety from the chattering classes regarding overcoming it, or building a cohesive and functioning ‘Team India.”

Yes, we all know this.  We also know the price we paid.  Uniting and fighting for our survival, standing up for our religion, our dharma, our heritage and supporting our martyrs has been the missing ethic especially among the Hindus. Lack of this supreme ethic has forced us to live on bent knees to several masters for the longest time.  And yet we do nothing to join hands and fight. 

Building Team India to fight the crooked regime is not easy and cannot happen unless the awareness that “to survive we must bond together” is worn on every person like a second skin.  The knowledge factory churning out conferences, discussions, arm-chair politicizing, temple get-togethers, angst via the internet, social media nationalism, fact-finding trips, and lectures will result in more of the same “preaching to the converted” and increasing the tribe of closet Hindus.  And it will have little effect on the self-centered, middle class Hindus marooned in a fantasy land of cricket, Bollywood, and racing to the land of riches.

Can this myopic middle class lead the people in the struggle for justice?

History has shown that several revolutions have sparked from the bottom layer of society.  The French Revolution began when the Bastille was stormed by destitute people who were starving on the cold streets of Paris. Mao Tse-Tung and Stalin came from poor peasant families with very little education, yet shook the old order and heralded the Chinese and Russian Revolutions.  Mahatma Gandhi’s campaign against the British met with success when the peasants, the poor, the women, the untouchables, and the peoples from the lowest echelons walked with him.

In the fifties when the Congo bled with imperialist terror, an ardent nationalist Patrice Lumumba, disillusioned with the middle class elites, addressed the peasants and the workers.  They belonged to the bottom rung of humanity, below the radar of the nation, working like slaves, starving and bearing the brunt of the colonial whip, but they did not disappoint him.  They came with courage, determination, grit, and blazed the path to freedom with gale force.  The stunned Belgians had to give in reluctantly.  Patrice Lumumba proved that masses can unite more than the easy going middle class.  And maybe, that’s where India should focus --mobilizing the masses to attain the holy grail of the Hindus – Unity. 

Way back, Swamy Vivekananda, unhappy with the selfish middle class articulated:

“Let New India arise – out of the peasants’ cottage, grasping the plough; out of the huts of the fisherman, the cobbler, and the sweeper. Let her spring from the grocer’s shop, from beside the oven of the fritter-seller. Let her emanate from the factory, from marts, and from markets. Let her emerge from groves and forests, from hills and mountains.” 


More by :  Aneeta Chakrabarty

Top | Opinion

Views: 3465      Comments: 4

Comment Well expressed anger followed by analytical comments by Gaurang Bhatt.Though the middle class is the most productive class it is also the most timid and selfish class.It always sees something beyond hope. Hindus have lived a subservient life trying to see that he and his family is happy. I do not think Hindus can ever fight, otherwise they would not have allowed outsiders to rule their country.

Suresh Mandan
14-Oct-2011 17:03 PM

Comment Thank you Gaurangji and Dineshji for your compliments and information. Very good info and I am proud to have your comments.
I know Revolutions have not necessarily produced the desired outcome especially in the case of Lumumba where the CIA got him disposed and installed the corrupt Mobutu. However, the article is about the triggering spark which in many cases comes from sheer desperation and lack of alternatives.
Again, many thanks, and I appreciate the time and energy you took to give your feedback and I will value this immensely.

Aneeta Chakrabarty
10-Oct-2011 22:13 PM

Comment Aneeta Ji,

I share the feelings expressed in the article.

As I wrote in comment to another article here sometime back, the absence of outburst in Indian middle (and poor) class is due to multiple factors, as below:

A. In contrast to Libya, Syria, Egypt and so on, India is a place where mass has been suffering for long but each 5 years its anger was diffused through elections, which is not the case in above examples. So, the amount of anger did never cross the threshold to bring out revolution where crores of people would stand up in streets, even while Anna and Ramdev came to front.
This is a characteristic of democracy - it allows people to express anger while the real cause that brings anger may remain intact and survive for decades !

B. Even though the influence of vedic literature, Ramanayan and Mahabharat has decreased to minimum in recent decades, it has contributed in creating a culture of 'tolerance', where people accept the misery while still delivering their best. As time passes, people have generated some kind of immunity against reacting to the very actions that results in their poor state, such a corruption by rulers.

C. Selfish nature and wide gap between rich and poor - an average Indian has turned much more selfish than he/she was a few decades ago. If his stomach is full, he would not bother about bad environment because of which his neighbors and the next generation that is going to suffer.
This selfish India would repetitively vote for kangress, ignoring the sins it did in past rule !
The wide gap between rich and poor helps being selfish further, some are not affected by bad governance at all because they are rich, they are OK being a 'brown English speaking fellow' and would go to support the corrupt rulers. While, the poor does not understand what a 'good governance' can deliver to him and keeps himself busy in service that rich, thinking about nation is not 'his concern' !

A classic example of rich being selfish is our news media - it delivers irrelevant stuff, misinformation and toxic day and night, the middle & poor class blindly follows it. [with understanding that providing misleading and biased news in seemingly unbiased manner is in 'business interest' of the rich owners of the news channels]

Imagine what will happen if media start delivering the right and worthy news - I am sure kangress won't survive for more than a year this it happens. It wouldn’t have even come to power in 2009 elections in that case.

The above thoughts are based on observations and talks with many many people around me - in trains, taxi, bus, villages, towns, metros, IT parks, gov employees, businessman, executives in private Industry etc.

That is why, until and unless we change our education system - both direct education (through schools and text books) and indirect education (through media, social groups, customs & traditions), we are not going to deviate much from current mess - be it Anna or Ramdev or Modi, until and unless thought process of average Indian changes, we are not going far from here.

Dinesh Kumar Bohre
10-Oct-2011 16:00 PM

Comment Compliments on your anger and the fire which burns in you. Many of us share those feelings, but don't let your enthusiasm blind you. The French revolution like most others you mention and the current ones, were ignited by the increased price and unavailability of food. "Bubhukshitam kim na karoti paapam vaa karyam". Ultimately the French revolution was pushed more and more in the radical direction up to the Jacobins via the Girondins, but ended in Napoleon, first as one of a triumvirate, then as the Emperor. France tried that again a number of times in the mid and late 1800s and 1968, and they all did not bring about a government of the proletariat. In China, it ended with the dictatorship of Mao and current successors. In Russia, after Lenin, Stalin and so on till back again to Putin. In Iran, after the revolution, the tyranny of the Ayatollahs. In the Congo, Lumumba didn't last for any time and it was Mobutu and the present chaos. The only reason there was no bloodbath in America is because from the beginning to the present, the revolution was hijacked by the propertied, bourgeois or rich merchants, bankers and plantation owners. The proletariat have great inertia in commencing or igniting a chemical reaction. Once initiated, it generates transient intense heat, but is not sustainable due to stoichiometry restraints and built in feedback inhibition due to diversion of mere survival, as a chemist like you must know.
Your observation about obsession with Bollywood, cricket and money is astute and one I have shared and ranted about. Now however, I have realized that one needs a very strong emphasis and preaching from parents or role models early in life and repeatedly and consistently, also in conjunction with practice by the role model, to have any lasting effect on that child's adult behavior. Even then, many will fall by the wayside like the Pandavas and Draupadi during swargaarohana, but guilt and duty may bring the straying errant back to the right path or at least prevent recidivism. In addition, strong sanctions or ostracizing by society of the transgressors is necessary.
Let me give you an example. There is a lot of hoopla about Steve Jobs after his recent death. There is no doubt that he was a very capable CEO and made the company a roaring success. The world is oblivious to his fiasco regarding stock option law violations, despite being a billionaire. If the yahoo story is true, he was the son of a Syrian engineer and a German American co-student at the Univ. of Wisconsin. The girl's parents forbade her marriage to a Muslim and the child was adopted by an Armenian couple named Jobs. Steve Jobs, after his success, refused to even see and meet his father. I don't know what attempts the father made before or after and that is irrelevant. One can understand and even sympathize or overlook Steve Jobs' anger and behavior. But as more facts are revealed, Steve apparently made his high school girl friend pregnant and refused to accept the paternity of the child by filing a false affidavit, that he was infertile and thus could not be the father of the child. He went on to become rich and successful, married and had three children. Only later, he acknowledged his girl child by his school friend. Now one would have thought that considering Steve Jobs' own suffering and experience would have made him sensitive and responsible enough not to do his own child the same injustice. Apparently that is not the way the world works, otherwise why would Israel, a product and victim of the holocaust behave so badly with the Palestinians. The world and society looks to side and identify with success. That is why success has myriad parents and failure is forever an orphan.
Gaurang Bhatt

Gaurang Bhatt
09-Oct-2011 17:33 PM

Name *

Email ID

Comment *
Verification Code*

Can't read? Reload

Please fill the above code for verification.