Darkness At Noon
June 2009: When the king says there is darkness at noon, the wise man says: “Behold the Moon.” – Anonymous. When the next election takes place in India five years from today… Tigers will continue to pad the forests of Kanha, Sundarbans, Nagarahole and Corbett. And whale sharks will swim the blue seas off the Saurashtra coast. Konark, Hampi, Khajuraho, the Taj Mahal and the Qutub Minar will continue to remind us of the greatness that was India.
But, like a slow, creeping debilitation, the spirit that makes India India will canter towards its lowest common denominator, exemplified by urban gridlock, climate induced migrations, ll-health… and rising crime
But the visible symptoms of national malaise take decades to sink in. So. In the year 2014, a section of the rich will continue to get obscenely richer. Money will continue to chase India, a country strutting its stuff on the financial ramp like an HIV-AIDS-afflicted beauty whose vital signs – glaciers, rivers, lakes, forests, soils – have quietly begun to shut down.
Modern day Neros will continue, expertly, to feign ignorance of the trauma that climate change wreaks on the poor, as the latter slide even quicker towards penury – touchingly clutching ‘new, improved’ election promises of food, clothing and shelter.
Dusty images of Mahatma Gandhi will hang, ignored, on government walls as the corrupt continue to line oily pockets. The bureaucracy will continue to handcuff us with red tape, while standing at the head of the ‘collect your bribes here’ queue. Politicians will burp their way through the elections, fed on a rich repast of well-intentioned candle-carriers who will still not bring themselves to rub shoulders with the poor at the nearest polling station.
Meanwhile, some of us will continue to trek to the top of Mount Improbable in search of faint hope, but will probably return with reports of havoc wreaked by armies of TICs (those in charge) whose ignorance, avarice and arrogance poisons the chalice that sustained civilisations for 5,000 years.
Somewhere in this dark canvas a young girl will struggle against the destiny her elders designed for her. Probably around 18, she will throw a ripe tomato at the king rather than point to an imaginary moon.
Working with creatures such as this scarab (dung) beetle seen here in the Desert National Park, Jaisalmer, turning dung to life for beetles unborn, that girl child will repair the planet that is our home.
Bittu Sahgal, Editor, Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXIX No. 3, June 2009