Work for a Living v/s Vote for a Living

‘Development will not win elections; only freebies, religion, caste, tribal loyalty, gifts will win’

Dr R Neerunjun Gopee

Everyone agrees that there is an overload of posts on social media, most of which are not really worth wasting one’s time on. But once in a way there come along some which can be eye-openers on current matters and can convey valuable lessons and messages if one keeps an open mind.

One that I have seen on WhatsApp is an insightful comment on the state elections in Karnataka, India. The results were declared on Saturday last: the incumbent BJP lost to the Congress Party, following a pattern whereby in Karnataka no incumbent has ever been elected a second time. In the wake of this outcome, the following comment (amended for brevity) was made:

‘Harsh reality of Karnataka elections. Fancy new rural airport, BJP lost. Brand new medical colleges in three cities, BJP lost all three seats. Planned new airport, BJP lost. Superb look upgraded two railway stations, BJP lost both.

‘Moral of the story: development will not win elections; only freebies, religion, caste, tribal loyalty, gifts will win.’

Does this ring a bell and make us recall our own elections?

To my mind, though, there’s an even better story that was posted. In short, it’s about how to catch wild pigs narrated by a student to his teacher. Free corn is placed in a corner of the woods daily, which the pigs rush to eat. Then one side of the area is fenced, and the pigs carry on until all four sides are fenced with a door on one side. The door is slammed shut and the pigs can now no longer get out.

Suddenly they have lost their freedom, they run round and round but are caught and soon go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods and accept their captivity.

The student continues: That is exactly what happens in many countries. The governments keep spreading free corn out in the form of freebies and such programmes, while we continually lose our freedoms a little at a time. And the freebies come at enormous cost to the taxpayer, with no clear indication where will the revenue come from.

Truth: If you think the free ride is essential to your way of life, then God help you when the gate slams shut!

He ends with: Most of the problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are now outnumbered by those who vote for a living

* * *

Who is afraid of the truth?

There can be no soft truth or hard truth, there is only one kind of truth – that which is backed by factual evidence. Like in science, the only way to counter it is to produce evidence to the contrary.

But there are uncomfortable and inconvenient truths, like for example on climate change, and former US vice president Al Gore wrote a book on the subject titled ‘Inconvenient Truths’. The perils of speaking truth to power are evident and are no longer confined to communist regimes as was always assumed to be the case. Even in democracies those who expose hard realities are subjected to all kinds of pressures and threats, and the most notorious case is that of the US citizen Julian Assange of WikiLeaks fame. Tiny Mauritius too is not immune to the phenomenon alas!

But it is not only governments who are opposed to uncomfortable truths: so too increasingly are the so-called liberal left-wing brigades which are now part of the wokeism phenomenon. They indulge in selectiveness: they decide which truths will be allowed to be articulated and to what extent and which freedoms will be allowed to be expressed and will vehemently ‘cancel’ or decry as false or propaganda what doesn’t fit their narrative.

This is illustrated by what is currently happening in India, where the film, ‘The Kerala Files’ (TKF), which exposes the phenomenon of ‘conversion gangs’ in Kerala, is the subject of criticism and has even been banned in certain states such as West Bengal and Tamil Nadu despite a judgement of the Supreme Court to the contrary, and even of the Kerala High Court similarly, since the film was cleared by the Central Film Censor Board of India after due process. These two states cited possible law and order problems, an admission of their own weakness since law and order is a state responsibility.

However, like ‘The Kashmir Files’ which became a blockbuster last year despite the war let loose against it by the very champions of liberty and freedom of expression, within ten days the similarly low budget TKF has soared to a phenomenal box office collection of INR 1.5 billion, and is expected to touch 2 billion by the coming weekend.

The irony is that many of the most vocal so-called intelligentsia who are against have not even seen the film! Let alone refuse to engage with the makers Sudipto Sen and Vipul Shah, and the very charming young actress Adah Sharma from Kerala, who have warmly and openly invited critics to engage with them directly to learn about the harsh realities that they have uncovered during their research over seven years. They have taken enormous risk in exposing the radicalization of thousands of young women from the three main communities in Kerala – Christians, Hindus and Muslims – who have not only been brutally abused, but who have also been sent to terrorism training camps abroad.

Following up on this story with great concern for their fellow citizens who have been preyed upon, practically all the news channels have been conducting their own investigations and have confirmed the findings depicted by TKF. Thus, one of the most explicit accounts is that of the anchor Rubika Liyaquat of ABP Live. Her team of reporters visited ‘conversion camps’ which are said to be widespread. On the other hand, one of the victims, Shruti (her story being one of the three that the film portrays), has been interviewed by several reporters. She described her painful journey, with two other companions, of conversion to reconversion, as they managed to escape the clutches of their tormentors. At the Aarsha Vidya Samajam, they are now engaged in rehabilitating many victims who have been saved but are helpless as regards those who are still languishing in terror camps.

As happened with ‘The Kashmir Files’, so too with ‘The Kerala Files’: practically all of the so-called superstars and heavyweights of Bollywood have kept silent. Except for actress Shabana Azmi who was not in favour of banning films though she didn’t specifically name TKF, and actor Anupam Kher. He conceded that he hadn’t yet seen the film but his experience as an actor in ‘The Kashmir Files’ and with its maker Vivek Agnihotri was enough for a start to convince him of the veracity of the contents of TKF.

The UK Film Board had initially not authorized release of the film but has now done so. Ireland and the Netherlands will also start showing it shortly.

Sooner or later, and one way or another, the truth comes out.

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 19 May 2023

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