Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Only that which Prevails is Truth

Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote - “All things are subject to interpretation; whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” This has been the problem ever since the neolithic revolution about ten thousand years ago when some humans became more powerful vis a vis others. It started off with men becoming more powerful than women because women had to be domesticated to give birth to and take care of a huge number of children given the biological necessity for this to ensure that the human race survived in the face of high infant and child mortality in those times. Later as property accumulated and trade began, economic differences emerged between people and cenralised societies began to form. With centralisation political power developed and began to be concentrated and "might is right" became the dominant rule in society and it has remained so ever since. Even though there have been philosophers and religious and social thinkers who have spoken of ethics and justice, human society has largely remained an unjust and unequal society in which power has ruled and decided on what is to be declared true - the dominant ideology. Truth anyway is difficult to define because subjective factors come into play and the influence of power differences just aggravates this. Brainwashing of the masses, mainly through religious discourse but also through various other means has been the general trend and the power of the state has often been used to crush those who have dared to rebel against the dominant ideology. 
 For a long time the media for expressing interpretations of the world and society were limited and they only became more widespread with the invention of the printing press. However, the floodgates for brainwashing were opened only with the invention of television in 1929. There has been no looking back since as all kinds of illusory information and interpretations to suit the ruling classes have been poured into the heads of people through the idiot box, viewing which unlike in the case of reading does not require much thinking to be done. It is in this context that the TV show being hosted by Bollywood actor Aamir Khan on the social and economic problems that beset India has to be judged because it is titled "Satyameva Jayate" - Only Truth Prevails.
Many people have said that Aamir Khan has done a service to the nation by focusing the glare of public scrutiny on such unjust situations as female foeticide, violence against women, the skullduggery of private doctors, pesticide infestation of food, neglect of the elderly, untouchability and the like. While other reality shows have a solely entertainment angle this show of Aamir's has a socially relevant thrust they argue. Even though all these subjects have been discussed before ad nauseum in print and on TV, for the first time they are getting a mass audience which later continues to be mobilised through social networks such as Twitter and Facebook say the Aamir Khan aficionados. Social activists who have been fighting for justice on these issues for years without having made much headway will be benefited by this glare of publicity and the mobilisation on social networks that the show is facilitating it is claimed. But how far is this true or is it just another power game a la Nietzsche?
Lets get the financial angle clear first because that will make things easier to understand. Aamir Khan gets Rs 3 crores for hosting each episode and his production firm Aamir Khan Productions gets Rs 1 crore for producing each episode. Star TV and all the other networks on which the show is aired earn quite a few crores of rupees more from sponsorship and advertisements. Thus, in the name of doing social service, Aamir Khan and all these networks are earning a packet. Reliance Industries Ltd by being one of the sponsors of the show through its Reliance Foundation is getting to project itself as a great do-gooder to mask the reality of the various environmental, economic and social rules that it is continually breaking.
The content of the shows is decidedly mild. The structural factors responsible for female foeticide, gender based violence, pesticide poisoning of food, fleecing of patients by doctors, untouchability and the like are not discussed at all. In fact many social activists who have participated in these programmes claim that either they have been left out altogether or their bytes have been drastically edited and in some cases their appearance in the shows has been so cleverly edited that they are being shown to support statements made by others that they did not during their actual interviews. As long as the world is controlled by big corporations bent on earning profits there is no hope for any lasting change for the better. None of these corporations and there profit making is mentioned. The show itself while jerking out tears from the public is concentrating crores of rupees in the hands of Aamir and company. After all there is not much else going to be done by the viewers apart from shedding tears. Because doing something on the ground to fight against these injustices involves fighting the powerful vested interests that have given rise to them. 
The publicity for the show has been cleverly planned. The title has been chosen to echo the motto of the Indian state which in turn has been taken from the Mundaka Upanishad which like all Vedantic philosophy speaks of the victory of the ultimate spiritual truth. The actual Indian state of course is far from this spiritual truth and engaged right from the time of independence in power play of the worst kind to defraud the masses and deny them justice. So Aamir Khan also continues this fiction by naming his show Satyameva Jayate and slotting it on Sunday morning where other mass hypnotising serials like Ramayana and Mahabharata had earlier been slotted. The print and social networking media have been used to publicise the show further and the impression has been conveyed that a new social movement for justice and change is under way. As one friend of mine, echoing Nietzche, commented, Satyameva Jayate should actually be translated as "Only that which prevails is the truth". Aamir and the Corporates have prevailed and made a packet at the expense of the masses who will go on suffering all the ills that this show is focusing on and that is the truth!

1 comment:

Pattu said...

Sorry, I was one of the people who did all those promos for Aamir Kahn , initially, in social network.:-)
Later I realized that an actor is an actor, So now I watch calmly , and take ti with a pinch of salt.

Kudos to all those social activists who are on the ground , and are working hard to bring about change.