By Sunil Kumar
India’s maximum city is a strange mix of fascinating contrasts; a brooding, industrial colossus on the throes of massive change. Intense thinkers can see the dark underbelly of towns; a churn, a ferment, and creative asphyxiation.
For most of us, the business of living keeps us engaged, mundane earthly affairs make abstruse ideas a mere fanciful representation. The crassness of a Third-World City can also limit freedom of expression, for a slang-spouting demographic is not the best of audiences. Ahem, I used a pejorative here, for the First World sometimes is no different.
A definition of creativity: relative representation of raucous reality. My business is my business, and your business is your business, but it’s all our business and our business. Is the individual more important or the collective? How do we define freedom?
Sixty-four years ago, we became independent. Nehru, educated in Harrow: just like me, nearly a century ago was a founding father of the modern republic. For all the unity in diversity, he saw fissures in the woodwork, the often contradictory impulses that drive our daily lives. For the 21st century native, it’s more a barrage of messages, bordering on insanity.
I do not limit this blog to history, philosophy or technology. As a free citizen of the world, speech cannot be limited. It can be transmuted, but never suppressed. Let us analyze open source: the panacea for a creative license. As marketers often reiterate, it is a platform that can be leveraged for intrepid thought.
To me, anything that is touted as free-to-use is to be viewed with healthy skepticism. For, as soon as it becomes mainstream, the vendor always comes up with elaborate riders, and an intricate mechanism to make profits.
Admittedly, anything that can be leveraged for healthy creativity is good, and should be used. But, the accompanying marketing pitch of pretentious nobility sometimes rings hollow.
Those who preach sometimes (many times) violate their own rules. Chauvinism in its infinite manifestations, and vicarious self-interest are more often than not couched to manifest in full force. The country’s biggest industrial empires, and its murky politics( in every state) are testament to the power or rugged individualism. Actively conniving with the ruler paved the way for the first industrial houses. Post-independence, we saw the rise of a new elite; educated, pretentious, urbane and not in sync with local tradition.
India recently hosted the First Grand Prix: touted as a show of the country’s renewed economic muscle. Admittedly, a rich man’s sport, it was hosted in a state that is low on all indicators. A lot of people could not afford the tickets.
The rationale may be clear for the planners, and for industrial houses who sponsor it with renewed vigor and overtly champion corporate and social responsibility without paying their bills. But, for all the people who profited from India’s entry into the global glam equation, I put in a healthy suggestion.
Encourage all sport in India, and not just one. We all know that cricket is our favorite passion. As Bernard Shaw famously put it, a game played by flanneled fools and watched by nearly two billion flanneled fools. Most of my countrymen are fond of quoting the West, and I am no exception. Anyways, where’s the infrastructure for other sport? Endless debate on television always irks me, as it seems to be a sparring match with no end in sight.
Every mofussil town in our country has aspirations, neglected by Central, State and local authorities. The endless blame game is a national phenomenon, and it has spewed a million insurgencies. But we still have to admire the resilience of a nation that has borne onslaughts in its entire existence with fortitude and some degree of divine providence.
Writing is a cathartic exercise, that can exorcise self-created demons. Step out into any bylane of any town, and reality stares at you blankly. The next moment, actually. Why so serious? A brave new world, perhaps? Continous narcissism can be good for health.