A letter to our politically over-driven society

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Dear Fellow Sikkimese Citizens,

I would like all of us to know and know clearly that the world had never died of wanting to know what political drama would unfold in Sikkim. Nor is the world willing to die over it now. Not today. Not tomorrow. Never.

As a matter of fact, if you crane your neck and see beyond where our state boundaries end, you will realize that the rest of world is blissfully unconcerned and unaware of the perceived ‘suspense’ that we are so eager for them to know about. The outside world is going about its business just as it always did. The earth hasn’t paused to see what Sikkim’s next political event will be. But for some of us, it feels as if we are the centre of the universe right now. We think that the stars in their courses above are working to set our destiny right.

Haven’t we been enjoying this eerie stagnation as masochists enjoy their miseries? Aren’t we simply justifying our habitual lethargy and laid back attitude by over-highlighting or blaming the situation of political limbo in which our state finds itself? Isn’t life higher, deeper, greater and larger than politics? If so, why are we so invested in our unproductive speculation over its ugly twists and turns? Why are we so given over to the hideous enterprise of earning a little sense of vindication (Schadenfreude- as Sashi Tharoor taught us just recently) as if it was the supreme objective of our lives? Why are we hopelessly wallowing in self-pity, brooding over our seeming ill-luck and backing away from life? Why do we allow our fleeting emotions to define life?

Look at what we have been doing for the last two months. We spent the first few weeks playing up our astonishment over the nail-biting election results. Then we wondered about the potency/impotency of a government with such a thin majority. Those on the winning side said – we will show you. Those on the losing side said – we will see. The fence-sitters watched intently, ever trying to determine which was the safer side to jump into. Then we debated the possibilities of MLAs crossing the floor either way and wracked our brains considering all kinds of strange eventualities. When the much-anticipated side-switching actually happened, we pretended to be dumbstruck as if we had never expected its possibility. Some of us condemned them as if they were the ugliest villains in history and the rest of us congratulated them as if they were the greatest heroes Sikkim had ever produced. Have we really forgotten that in Sikkim we have been brought up under the shadow of leaders who did this very thing at the drop of a hat? Some of the greatest Sikkimese leaders, as we hail them, did it repeatedly. And remember, we are never too far from our patriarchs when it comes to proclivities and fibre. We are connected hereditarily, you know. You don’t need an Einstein’s mind to know that some of us who are screaming blue murder, condemning these side-switching leaders, would do the same when pushed to the wall.

Our other occupation has been our animated discussion on the outcome of the by-polls, we have been busily doing it all along.

Now we are checking our watch every now and then because we have been told by ourselves that there will be an unexpected turn of events after some time. We love to hate this most dreaded eventuality. We, therefore, anticipate it and enjoy hating it. And yes we love to imagine an expected outcome. We dream about it and enjoy its prospects. We dream and expect somebody else to fulfil it. Because we are so desperately dependant on others even for thinking, we have forfeited the right to be intrigued. All we are capable of is being confused. For now, we are so confused, we don’t know whether to prepare for a celebration or for mourning. We love the very sense of being confused and like a fool, we grin at one another saying, “it is so confusing hai?” We do it robotically, routinely, instinctively, mindlessly and oh so foolishly.

We love it because it gives us a (false) sense of justification for our inactive lives in general. We innocently say, “Khai, kehi garnu pani stiti yesto chha. Ki war, ki paar bhai haley dhukkai hunthyo. Kehi garnu sakinthyo” (We’ve been hindered in this uncertain period of waiting. If only someone could break this deadlock, we could have gone ahead with life”). What? Who is stopping us from doing what we are capable of? Why don’t we go about life exploring its immense possibilities? Why can’t we hit our straps right now? Why do we flock together and discuss politics for endless hours? Why do we bow our heads before our smart-phones all the time, asking them to tell us what the future holds for us as if our phone is our prophet and professor? Are we so dumb to know social media is the fiefdom of idiollectuals (idiots who pretend to be intellectuals) – where shamelessness and deceit are the twin rules of the game. Yes, genuinely reasonable people are there (on social media) but their reasoning is hopelessly out-noised by the mindless clatter of the “intellectually less fortunate” who enjoy an advantage by way of their preponderance and lack of conscience.

What every average Sikkimese must do and do right away is to wake up from the bed of despondency, wipe away our ‘sleepies’ and get on with the day. It is time to realize that our political drive is stalling our forward movement. Our driven-ness is doing no one any favour. Let the politicians worry about politics. Haven’t we already given our last 10-12 months to them, following their campaigns?

I am not suggesting even for half a second that we must turn a blind eye to the irresponsible decisions they take and destructive moves they make. People have the right and power to make them lick the dust. But what is fundamentally worrisome is the lack of self-empowerment among us. We need to do the following three things without delay.

One, learn to make reasoned decisions without being sentimentally fooled by anyone. Do not support anyone merely because of the commonality of ethnicity, caste and religion, relational obligation, annoyance, jealousy or hatred against another.

Two, muster up the courage to choose ‘conviction’ over ‘convenience’. Do not lend your support merely as a price for personal favours. Such bargaining will cost more than what the favour is worth. When we use our politicians as a source of blessing, they will use us as their devotees. When your support is linked with your ideological postures, you will never have to mortgage your soul. You can live with your dignity intact. However, this could entail sacrifice, loss, suffering and even more. Life is too precious to be wasted in being mercenary and calculating.

Three, treat politics as it is rather than thinking that politics is your lifeline. We all are linked with politics. It is a necessary evil. However, human life is too precious a gift to fully invest it in the pursuit of politics. It must never be allowed to hijack your life. At best, politics can be a part of a certain objective in life. Life is endowed with immense possibilities. It is fertile. Life is too pure to be impregnated with the intercourse of politics. Politics is a medium to serve humanity. It is not a candidate with whom to marry our lives.

Let us rule politics and refuse to be ruled by it.

Respectfully yours,

A Sikkimese fellow

By Jiwan Rai, the author can be contacted at jiwanr@gmail.com

NB: Views/Opinions expressed in the article or write up is purely of the author or writer. For any queries or contradictions the author can be contacted in his/her email id.

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