Books like The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor have long served to confound people’s impressions about the Indian freedom struggle. Tharoor in his book makes an abortive comparison between the Indian freedom fighters and the eponymous characters of the Mahabharata. It can neither qualify to be a satire or a serious study on both the independence movement and the epic, but creates rather an anomalous and unfair picture in making us see that even the freedom struggle was conceived, scripted and executed like a dynasty war. It is tragic let alone being satirical that we have to come to understand the movement and its glory only around the iconic image of Gandhi, his protests and the workmanship of the Congress.
The folly is not in the way history is presented, but with our own sensibilities. We have been happy in the fantasies of the long lost folklore, believing in our heroes who always liberate us and save us from damnation. Hero worship is a tenet of a proud society but in our country we would even not let the heros sons, daughters and nephews die! The age old feudalism that we thought had been done away with the British rule has now given into the anarchy of democratically ruling families.
Pandit Nehru was under the wing of the talismanic Gandhi, Indira his daughter, Rajiv her son, Sonia his wife and now Rahul. Why did we have to endure this boorish legacy? Why do we have to accept that they can be the guardians of our system? The Gandhis which are the largest of such tyrannical ruling families of the country are emblematic of the feudatory political system. A political class of today is not representative of the people of the nation that are put to vote but of the numerous feudal clans. We are free as a nation yet caged in our insecurities; we are empowered yet lack the will; we stand for equality yet are impassive to differences of birth, gender and caste; we have evolved into a society of half-breds who believe in principle but fall short in practice. It is less demeaning in not making it to the Football World Cup than being told by one Rahul Gandhi that the crisis of the Babri Masjid could have been avoided if his extended family would have been in office.
We lack imagination as a nation. Whenever we have been awakened by the impending dangers of oligarchy (political families) by new age thinkers of the likes of Jayprakashs, Rajagopalacharis and George Fernandes, we have been coerced back to these damned families due to our indecisiveness. We have long forgotten to ask questions, instead have learned to devolve responsibilities and obfuscate answers. We need no overhaul, no revolution that would suddenly jolt the tender equilibrium of our political system and create more chaos (who would clean the mess!), we may have to just think collectively in a more determined manner and enforce our will.