Living in Dark Times

We seem to be living in dark times. The ravaging covid-19 infections have brought us and our healthcare workers to the point of fatigue.  A politics of rigging has hit us. TRPs are rigged by those who use their nationalist self righteousness to demonize others as anti-national.  An ad of a gold brand  Tanishq belonging to the Tata’s that sought to promote  communal harmony and the happiness of woman  is communalised  and  is framed as love jihad to the point of it being called off by  its promoters.  The horrendous gang rape, murder and criminal disposal of the body of the rape victim in UP is twisted by the spin doctors of the ruling dispensation that favour the upper caste and is trying to implicate the victim’s family in the crime and divert our attention by pointing an accusing finger to foreign conspiracy to curb resistance and outrage of the people and activists and cover their own mishandling of the crime.  We seem to see constitutional authorities like Governors openly acting as stooges of the ruling party  at the centre and defend its ideology and even go to the extent of giving a sitting chief minister  like Uddhav Thackeray,  lessons on Hindutva.  We are indeed living in strange times. An 83 old priest Fr. Stan Swamy S.J is linked to violence of Bhima Koregaon and is framed as terrorist when he had never been to that place nor did he have links with any such characters who are terror activists. Several activists are languishing in the jail without any trail for years together. We have seen an audacious murder of  one Jaiprakash by a BJP worker,  Dhirendra Singh in Ballia in a broad daylight and  a filmi escape under the nose of the police after being briefly held soon after the crime.  Our democracy is rigged, our parliament is kept in a suspended animation and our opposition is silenced. Media is promoting toxicity and hate and deflects our attention away from real issues.  Everything seemed to be rigged to benefit the ruling benches and their cronies. 

We in Goa are not free from these dark times.  Our Government seem to operate as a slave of the centre. Our development is rigged by the likes of Adani. In the name of development, Goa is dishonoured and is reduced to become nothing more than a highway. We have given up our lands for the national highway broadening in silence, our rivers are nationalised and have lost the dignity of their name and are simply given a number that seems to be a weapon to hide the coal handling docks that are being  planned to set up  to benefit   the likes of Adani. The double tracking of south central railways is not just threatening our forests and wildlife but also homes of several families.  The diversion of the water of river Madei to benefit Karnataka is also part of the calculus of loses that we are facing in the name of development. We can see how Goa is rigged of its honour and dignity and is reduced to a status of being a corridor to top business lobbies with little or no regard to Goans as well as Goan-ness.  This is why we have indeed the challenge to restore the honour and dignity of Goa and Goan-ness.  Goa is fast converted into a ‘rosto’ and Goykars are on the verge of being thrown on the road. The development threatens to leave Goans behind and go ahead to benefit the rich corporate.  There we have the challenge to restore our honour more than never before. We cannot allow the ‘rostofication’ of Goa and become ‘rostad’ Goykars.  We have to stop this dishonour that is being inflicted on us in the name of development.  

While the clouds of darkness are building up, there is a glimmer of hope as we can see  how resistance is building up against this politics of rigging.  People are fast seeing the deception that they have come to see as progress. The rising prices of patrol and petroleum products  have hit every household. Loss of jobs and livelihoods due to the sinking economy and the rising tide of the global pandemic are pushing people to the point of despair.  When political ideologies cannot bring food our plate, we  are forced to open our eyes to their deception.  It is slowly coming to our realization that we are given religion ( Hinduism) and cultural nationalism mix ( Hindutva) while the business tycoons like Ambani and Adani are given our natural resources to accumulate wealth by using ruthless means that do not care for our welfare as well as the good of  our ecology. The Dalits, the tribals,  the women, and the minorities are already resisting the deception and are uniting to save their lives, livelihoods and dignity. We cannot allow the powers that be to trade on our lives, religion and upper caste culture for notes and votes.  

Indeed, our hopeless condition is producing a new hope.  Italian Political thinker, Giorgio Agamben says that ‘thought is a courage of hopelesseness’. This is why contemporary philosopher, Slavoj Zizek challenges us to embrace the courage of hopelessness in his book of the same title.  He challenges us to abandon hope and embrace courage of hoplessness. He says often hope can deceive us. Hope shows us the light at the end of the tunnel. But this light at the end of the tunnel can be the headlight of an engine that is coming to crush us.  We may understand this  if we consider reflectively  how in 2014,  a PM candidate promised us ‘acche din’ and most of us fell to the bait and we can see  as days passed by how this light at the end tunnel turned to be headlight of a engine   that has crushed us and condemned us to ‘bure din’ to a point that we began to desire our ‘bure din’ that we faced pre-2014. Zizek does not entirely reject hope. He invites us to reject progressive hope that looks to quick fix of our problems. Such quick fix solutions may actually become the engine that comes in the opposite direction only to crush us further. Hence, Zizek challenges us to give up false hope and embrace courage of hoplessness that would enable us to produce wakefully thought out alternatives.   

There are good reasons that we are arriving at such a critically thought out alternatives. We can see how Big brands like Bajaj and  Parle Agro  have declared that they will not give ads to toxic channels that promote hate. A United Bollywood  has taken some of these toxic channels to the court  for defamation. These steps are not like the light at the end of the tunnel, they seem to be stands that are taken after deep thought and are not simply decisions in a reactive mode. We see also something like thoughtful considerations are shaping our resistance to the coal handling and its transportation in Goa, where there are attempts to wage a united resistance are in progress.  Maybe we have to remember the victorious event of earlier day. It may bring us new inspiration to seek alternate ways to address our issues in a united way.  Goa Bachao Adolan (GBA) had united activists of different orientations to a common fight. We were victorious then. We cannot be victorious when we are lost in our divisions. We have to put up an untied fight. We can keep our divisions to be settled for another day and  have to engineer a critically thought  out coalition that unites all resisting forces  both nationally and locally to bring about a true revolution that will emancipate us from the politics of deception that has rigged our development, parliament, economy  and life as a whole. 

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao