Επιμέλεια: Εύα Πετροπούλου Λιανού

The last decade turned into an elaborate endeavour to control the masses and the intellectual elite too through multi- pronged attempts which brought to any mind sufficiently alert to a subtle surveillance, the Orwellian refrain of “Big Brother is Watching”. Even seemingly well- meaning ideas like Yoga Day celebrations betrayed such feelings as armed forces, employees, school children, city counsellors, et al, were expected not only to be into yoga  exercises, but videos to be made, photographs to be sent to higher authorities. There was an implied distrust and possible disobedience, and hence the compliance reporting did ring in authoritarian echoes.

Majoritarianism asserted itself in no uncertain terms; empathy, concern and sympathy were governed and
guided by other means of thought than basic humanity. Even now, it sounds a little raw to put your finger on the actualities of the reality that came to characterise india, and the electronic and vernacular print media seemed to illustrate it ;  peace and harmony among communities seemed to be ill- trusted to loud mouths on TV, and one heard unpardonable statements from the so- called Dharam- Sansads. Open calls were given for killing or social boycott of some particular community. Specific, individual crimes were stretched to blame a whole community. Little known acts of violence from recent or a couple of centuries ago were highlighted to indict a community.

That this was the best of times, we were told. Lynchings and arrest of dissenting voices were downplayed. Renowned writers like Girish Karnad were shown in nasty colours.  Press men were called Prestitutes to school Prostitutes. Any thinking man if he raised a question was dubbed Urban Naxal. Social activism was painted black. Koregaon undertrials were a classic case as brought out by Alpa Shah in a book ‘ The Incarcerations’. Recently, another book to draw attention to the brittle times was  written by Parakala Prabhakar titled ‘The Crooked Timber of India’, essays on a Republic in crisis.
Then came the 7- phase elections to 18 th Lok Sabha with stunning results. Suddenly as if a dam rose against the billowing thrust of murky political waters. Not only unexpected, but almost unimagined! The silent indian voter asserted; his loud silence was heard not only in West Bangal and Tamil Nadu, but equally in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. Through out the electioneering, the very opposition parties which were painted as marauders and dacoits– to loot personal possessions and assets of people, etc– were elected by the people. One’s rivals in elections are no enemies of the nation, but such were the refrains in speeches of those who thought they could never lose among a people who have been beneficiaries of the government schemes and delete outs. Such undemocratic tendencies were ambushed, and rightly so. The ignoble guarantees given would have proved  a further blow at the declining state of democratic institutions. With those thrusts baulked, a new India should emerge with values of pluralism, harmony and tolerance, an India which plays the right notes from its glorious past.

Bio: Reviewer, translator and academician, Lalit Mohan Sharma, born 1952 and a bilingual poet, began teaching in government college, Dharmshala in 1973, and before superannuation in 2010, he has been Principal for a dozen years at various colleges, and a member of NAAC’s Peer Teams. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on ‘ Quest for Self in the American Novel : Mark Twain to BernardMalamud’.
Dr Sharma has published two books of Hindi poems and ten books of English poetry, ‘ A Three- Step Journey’ is English translation of Zahid’s Urdu Poetry. Latest this year has been ‘Imaginary Knots’ and another ‘ Icicles of Time’ will shortly be out.
Galaxy International Foundation honoured him with ” A Connoisseur of Creative Arts” Award.
Settled at Dharmshala in Himachal Pradesh, now Sharma’s association with NGOs like State War Memorial and Harmony Day Care Centre for Special Children is close to his heart.