What is the state of Indian culture – in a flux, upbeat or teetering on self-annihilation? The author juxtaposes India’s past and present to chart out the nemesis we are headed for. The hoi polloi weighs well-being apropos development. But then, what is true development to create a well-being state? Does development tantamount to crass materialism and military aggrandizement? Prof. Bharat Gupt, the author has for several years pondered over integral issues intriguing Indian sociocultural and political climes. Besides, he has juggled to extensively study the nitty-griity of Indian culture vis-à-vis the occidental cultures. This has particularly endowed him with an invigorating insight. Many of the chapters of the book have been earlier published in national dailies. The book harps on astute catechism on all raging issues, challenging issues and contentious issues to dismantle widespread parochial notions.
This book is splayed in five parts kowtowing a Mahabharata shloka that segregates human existence into the echelons of individual, village, janapada, prithvee and atman. This book encapsulates this keynote message—‘Give up the individual for the family, the family for the habitat, the habitat for the land. But for the Self, give up the whole earth’. The author analyses things in totality foraging this entire ambit of human existence. The author hatches and devises new parameters and modalities to gauze development, prudence and pragmatism of the Indian populace festered with Anglophonic placebo thereby setting a template for society to adhere to.
Can Prof Gupt’s posteriori analysis stem the rot? He does explore some viable options to revamp the malaise percolating down every strata of our society. Shri Gupt leaves it to readers to pit their jurisprudence in opting for methodology to achieve pax Indiana. Another redeeming feature of the book is adjudging everything in a global perspective taking cognizance of genealogical deliberations.
The author deals a diatribe upon the prevailing notion of secularism. The entire facade of secularism stands groggy as ‘Nehruvian secularism failed to nurture pilgrimages and pilgrims and thus weakened national bonding and cultural flowering’. The author is emphatic to rule out a western template for Indian vibes –‘western paradigms cannot count upon sacredness of the Europeans as a social unifier, just as the conquering Europeans could not sell their land because they considered it sacred’. The chapter, ’Cultural nationalism: kitsch or charisma’ rakes in hornet’s nest lambasting all major political parties and their periwigged potentates.
At what age should an Indian be allowed to contest for a berth in the Parliament? The author ricochets back to 10th century AD where a village called Uttaramerur in south of Chennai had laid an elaborate ruling of a kingdom. Indians already have the longest written constitution. What more do we need and discard? The readers might find this role model a jab of homily sermon, defunct and redundant. But the author sets this precedent only after making requisite changes and also not to revamp our present constitution but to bolster its creditability. The author says,’the ill effects of lowering the age to 18 are well-known….political parties have intensified their activities on campuses and, further vitiated the academic atmosphere’. The author in his characteristic raillery blurts out, ‘Democracy, when overdone, brings not just wrong decisions, but the sterility to take them at all….They can’t even decide whether or not to move the cows away from the streets of Delhi. What to talk of how to stop Islamic terrorists that keep attacking the people of the city’.
‘Indian Diaspora: The Brihad Bharat’ exhorts Indian residents to enthuse cultural bonhomie with their beleaguered brethren ‘people of Indian origin’ worldwide and not ’merely look upon them as bankers, investors and creditors…to reduce them into economic milch cows’. The author is redolent about technocrats –‘what was once called the brain drain has proved to be a brain implant’ who have repaid India with their reaps abroad. A feeling of insecurity goaded a whole generation to adopt ‘schizophrenic life-style….Culture was relegated to a cupboard status feeding on nostalgia and heirlooms’.
The book size is highly deceptive. Its demureness doesn’t portend the magnanimity of its contents. Furthermore the cover of the book is insipid enough to hint at the platitude that has gutted the bookshelves. The book might find limited readers for its didactic tenor sans salacious masala would insulate readers. But the book warrants a perusal from all ranks of society. A pertinent question crops up as why people abhor changes and cling to their instinctive malapropism. Can all sections be ennobled with the same prudence? Can the same formula suffice for all strata of society? However, the author does not designate any person as the role model. May be he aims at a mass reform wherefrom a role model would be a sui generis phenomenon without any maverick freak of divination.
The book circumscribes the circle of reason, circle of critique and the circle of judgment streamlining all and sundry intriguing aspects of India is reeling under. This Vitruvian vivisection of Indian psyche rolls down the odd and even dovetails to get jig-sawed by the readers themselves. A rare Weltanschauung by a modern writer at a high time is welcome. His proffered panacea is potent to floss out the congealed scum in the Indian populace. When seminal ideas well draped with rational disposition churn out a totality, the integrand achieves to tie loose ends together.
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