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Big Brothers And History

By Ananya S Guha

In the present situation in India, what history do we look forward to or chart out? Historical mappings have contours defined not by events, but events shaping destinies of communities and countries. Will history say that a movie was attempted to be banned because some rogue elements thought that it was insulting to a particular community? Or that three industrialists left the country because they defrauded banks? The present situation determines the future. If  history is the future, when does it end? The twentieth century is battle scarred; nations playing wars and proxy wars; children dying in them and then nations pursuing what is called in diplomatic parlance, ‘strategies’. The world is torn asunder with wars in the Middle East threat of war in the Pacific Peninsula. Every day there is firing across the Indian and Pakistani borders; the Korean American diatribes, Islamic terrorism aided by nations. In such situations the word peace is almost anathema. Cleverer expressions abound: diplomatic talks, negotiating table etc. The holocaust of a war does not terrorize, it is taken for granted. The players are the nuclear tested nations, the victims multiply. History sears an uncouth head, withdraws temporarily while political happenings all over the world hold center stage. News implodes and explodes, television channels burst at the seams. And there is of course trade and bi -lateral talks, signatures impound nations, poverty takes a back seat and watches quietly like an impostor. The third world war may happen anytime? No it won’t it is happening over and over again, it must have reached the hundredth.

Nations struggle for survival. The Maldives… will big brother intervene? Big brother is quiet ‘watching’. Other bigger brothers are watching over big brother India. India has a co big brother China, who is watching and sometimes snapping and molly- cuddling India’s sworn enemy. Is history writing or recording all this? That the two Korea(s) a divided house try to conjoin sullenly with the biggest brother monitoring, appraising, chiding? 

Let us pause and focus on Indian history. Do we have a redefined nationalism? Are the historians writing this definition and poring over ancient scripts? Are the new text books replacing the old? Are we fashioning, designing, re-designing a new history? Why? Because the old was rotten? A monument is a grave don’t you know you idiots. So build temples and destroy mosques. That is the new age history. Grab all the votes, so that they understand this pulsating new age philosophy. Don’t you know it is a globalized world and a cashless society? No cash please, only machines. The slums grow. The PM says thousands of houses have been built. We blink. Where are the houses? In the moon says a voice.

In the meantime Big Brother and cousin pats us on the head. Great country. So diverse, but you shouldn’t have increased your export/ import duties. Cut it out he snaps. We ogle at his splendid mimicry. 

Another Big Brother suddenly calls for suspension of activities ( bombing, killing) in a country she has intervened to protect and also to rub shoulders with the other big brother. The UN calls for some kind  of temporary ceasefire. As if that will attenuate the torture and misery of the people! The crisis and tragedy of the Middle East is being caught literally and metaphorically in between war mongers and leaders who treat the world as their own property be it Africa, Middle East, or Korea. So what do we get out of such history or narrative? Just a recycling of the wars in the medieval ages, excepting those perpetuating them now are outwardly suave but  inwardly abominable. The parallel silent war is being perpetrated by corporate houses, water dam irrigation and land grabbing by power houses, coal and uranium mining. Look at what world leaders do. A Prime Minister visits our country, treats it like his property and invites a separatist of Indian origin for dinner. Then, reneges goes back to his country and actually says that it was an Indian invitation. No matter how much scholars harp on post colonial era, this is actually a very devious kind of mindset and colonial attitude, and then he has the cheek to say that India is unforgettable. 

What will history say of the Middle East? That it is a playground of Big Brothers, with people splitting like atoms. Small Brothers don’t know. Keep quiet. We know. We can’t speak. Double speak is dangerous it is an Orwellian crime. 

So will history wait till all the Big Brothers superannuate? And finally will history please look at Peace? The world is moving away from reconciliation and peace at a breakneck speed of  regression. There will be no third world war. The world is a cauldron of it. History’s repetition will be more cataclysmic, more complete. Non proliferation of nuclear arms is, proliferation. Disarmament is a myth. 


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