Politics of Speed

We live in accelerated times. Politics as well as the market seem to have outpaced our democracy. We are facing politics of speed. Big business has no time to wait. It demands single window clearance. Even we as ordinary people are impatient. We want instant results. The time-tested institutions of liberal democracy are found wanting. Single strong leaders have become popular and populisms of several shades are strangulating democracy globally. India is no different. We too have succumbed to this one supreme leader discourse. This is why our Parliament has gone silent. Bills are passed in a hurry without discussion and debate. Even the state Governments have become second fiddle. The first engine of the double-engine Government is taking all credit for governance and development. The wheels of democracy are derailed by the impatient capital of corporatized politics.

There is indeed a speed limit to our liberal democracy. Speed cancels all diversity and gives us an appearance of efficiency. Under acceleration, we enter the inferno of the same. This is why perhaps, we Indians have easily succumbed to the illusion of one nation, one language, one religion and one leader when our reality is unequivocally plural and diverse. The politics of speed is erasing boundaries of otherness and only homogeneity has begun to become desirable. Lead by our uncritical and mindless submission to myths that paint otherness as demonic, and ahistorical, we have come to accept that the other, the minority, the outsider cannot share in the nation ( for whatever it means). This indicates that the majority shares a different temporality. It feels that its time has come to leave behind the minoritized and marginalised other and guzzle ahead to grab the ever-eluding trophy that unfortunately does not truly exists.

While the majority is riding a triumphant temporality as a joy ride, it is only an elitist minority that is well positioned as the one that truly benefits from the politics of speed. It is the Ambanis and the Adanis that run with cake while the majority is engaged in clearing the ground of all otherness. The tempos of the temporalities of our democracy, ruling party, its cronies, opposition, majority and minorities differ under the politics of speed. As a result, democracy is crippled and is limping. The Government and its cronies are happily cruising while the majority and minority are wriggled in a battle of hate.

Although it might sound idiotic, we have the challenge to slow down and reclaim our democracy undermined by the politics of speed. To do this we have to understand how the politics of speed is hiding our plural social temporalities. Unfortunately, the political discourse that rules the majority leading it to believe that its time has come acts as a cover that hides the plural social temporalities. The moment we discover how plural temporalities rule our society, we shall come to see whose time has really come and who is truly having acche dhin. This is why there is wisdom and freedom in our idiotic choice of slowing down and India blossom again.

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