Cloudy weather will persist

The vitiating of the social climate in the country is the result of a series of political-cum-business dealings whose ramifications are still being unravelled, with probably more yet to come

By Dr R Neerunjun Gopee

What is the situation in the country? Are things falling apart? In one of his press conferences some time back the Commissioner of Police has reassured the population that everything is under control and they need not worry. On his part, the Prime Minister as head of government has also reiterated the message that the centre is still holding and that the country is marching forward steadily towards the future.

However, despite these messages, the general perception in the public space is that things are not as rosy as is being depicted. Although people are going about their normal routine as usual, there is a palpable crispiness if not actual tension in the air, with a climate of fear and suspicion hanging over our heads. Definitely a very uncomfortable feeling that pervades the polity. In trying to characterize this atmosphere more appropriately, I found an apt metaphor in the daily weather forecast, the latest of which can perhaps be paraphrased and captures the essence of the prevailing spirit – or shall we say climate – of the times:

‘General Situation:
A heavily laden and highly unstable stream is flowing over our country.

Forecast for the Days to Come:
Cloudy most of the time, the sun will rise later than usual, and there will be frequent and unpredictable showers throughout. Both over the high grounds (usual) and the low grounds, contrary to the usual pattern.

Fair weather only during the night; during the day perhaps from time to time. However, clouds development are expected in the evenings and weekends at specific locations where a high concentration of activities and people is expected. These localised showers could be accompanied by isolated thunderstorms that may, however, spread rapidly.
The maximum temperature will vary between 27 and 29 degrees Celsius over the central plateau and between 31 and 34 degrees Celsius over the coastal regions. It may reach boiling point in certain areas.
Winds may blow wildly from the West-North-West at breakneck speeds.
Seas moderate beyond the reefs with likely swells within the lagoons.

The public is advised to take all precautions, reference Mahatma Gandhi’s three monkeys.

 A warning of undetermined class is permanently in force, repeat, a warning…’

The torrent of information, misinformation, disinformation that emanates from all quarters both public and private that include myriad discussions among analysts, stakeholders, observers and sundry witnesses of the events and incidents taking place – all these simply leave the common man baffled and confused. There is only one hope, and that is that the legal battles being fought come to their conclusions soon, and the final verdicts pronounced by the learned adjudicators. Then only will there be some much needed clarity, and even if they are contested or appealed, people can take solace in the fact that a due process according to the laws of the land is being followed, and a definitive outcome will emerge.

In line with the winds of change that are blowing hot and cold in many countries around the world, here too there have been people movements whose objective is to make strong messages reach official ears, which cannot be accessed through the normal bureaucratic channels. There is no guarantee, though, that even if heard, they will be acted upon, but at least the people cannot be blamed for not playing the democratic game. Especially when the protests have not resulted in any major acts of violence on the part of demonstrators as has happened elsewhere, from the US to Byelorussia via Hong Kong, although there has been rough handling of certain supporters who came to show solidarity to those they felt were hapless victims. Such incidents will hopefully not happen in the future, especially where women are concerned.

The vitiating of the social climate in the country is the result of a series of political-cum-business dealings that have been uncovered, and whose ramifications are still being unravelled, with probably more yet to come, and no clear end in view. Such an end is highly desired by all the people, as a lassitude is settling in. It is demoralising for the people, and damaging for the country.

In such matters one must go to the root cause of the problem, because what is being seen are only the effects of a deeper malady that many countries have become afflicted with. So widespread is it that books have been written on the phenomenon.

For example, ‘Kleptopia: How Dirty Money is Conquering the World’ by Tom Burgs is one such. It is one of several in the ‘Books of the Year’ section of The Economist magazine, whose short write-up on it should open eyes. Here are some of the terms used: ‘international corruption’, ‘moral condemnation’, ‘murkiness and turpitude involved’, ‘intersection of politics and personal enrichment’. Another book about Putin’s rise that is presented refers to ‘massive concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few’.

Bottomline for this state of affairs is moral turpitude, a better term for it being the French anomie, defined in Le Petit Larousse as (translated): ‘the state of a society characterized by a disintegration of the norms which maintain the social order’. But given what is being witnessed, one could extend this definition to include not only disintegration, but a total indifference to this state – almost a wish for it to persist – and to any attempt at bringing about any remedy.

 There is only one, and that is to pay heed to the wisdom of the ages, articulated by the true sages who recast them in contemporary terms so that we cannot claim any excuse for not understanding, and therefore not acting accordingly.

As Pujya Swami Dayanananda Saraswati of the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam writes in his commentary on Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita:

‘A rich man should be magnanimous and a knowledgeable man humble. Knowledge and humility, money and magnanimity, power and justice, strength and gentleness – these go together. A person having only one of these two attributes, such as power or strength, without the justice or gentleness that goes with it, is capable of destroying others’.

What a sublime message, and what great lessons those who are willing to listen can draw.

A bon entendeur, salut!

Looking forward to a more pleasant climate forecast soon…

* Published in print edition on 9 February 2021

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