By S P Bhattacharyya
Man is mortal; Ram (not Shri Ram) is a man, therefore Ram is mortal. This is one of the first lessons of logic which most of us know. I have recently come across a scientific postulate where it has been suggested that the child who will be eventually immortal might have already been born. This suggestion is based on the premise that the present accelerating pace of epoch-making developments in science & technology, particularly in the field of medicine & surgery (which includes the technique of organ transplantation) may not take long to outpace the rate at which our body degenerates due to disease and old age. And when it happens no one shall die except by accident. Let it be so and I do not wish to hazard a guess as to where and to whom this immortal child has been born and what price will have to be paid for this immortality. My concern is about the children of lesser gods who will be very much mortal and shall not live beyond five years of age and a multitude of others who will be destined to live their mortal lives in abject poverty and deprivation.
No doubt, the longevity of average Indians has been increasing and child mortality somewhat decreasing. But can we say that these are satisfactory when compared with other developed countries of the world? Can we hope to improve the level of our public health when the great majority of the people in the society are deprived of the minimum requirements for a rudimentary form of existence? Our social reformers and activists have always reminded us of the necessity for united, determined and relentless efforts to achieve and ensure a reasoble standard of existence for all and not just a few. But we have failed to live up to their advice. Selfishness (and violence) seems to be in the very D of the human kind and the aim of our day to day life is self-aggrandizement only at any cost. Education is believed to be an important and effective weapon to keep such inhuman tendency under control. But alas, all such weapons based on science & logic are double-edged and can produce a saint or a devil of a man depending on how one chooses to use it. There is no dearth of educated devils in the society and a great many of them consider their education as a license for looting the resources of the tion whenever there is an opportunity. These are the people who create artificial divisions in the great ‘family of men’ in the me of geographical, tiol, religious, linguistic and a hundred other sectarian identities to serve their selfish ends which necessarily ensures a sub-human existence for the deprived millions. We know, the earth has enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed. Thus the society inevitably gets divided into the powerful and the powerless, the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots and the immortal few and the mortal many (perhaps in not too distant future).
Who are these people being referred to above? Do our today’s politicians with a few rare exceptions answer these descriptions? Are they not the so-called representatives of the people who at the time of election fight amongst them tooth and il for getting a chance to serve the people with the solemn commitments of ensuring the greatest good for the greatest number? Have they taken the country anywhere nearer the goal of even a moderately decent existence in course nearly 70 years of independence? True, there are other countries who have fared even worse. But this is little consolation for us. The Indian psyche backed by the rich heritage of a A-one philosophy of life of thousands of years deserved a better deal once it got Independence after 700 years of Mughal Rule followed by 200 years of British Rule. That things did not change as expected is, to my mind, largely due to the over-whelming power these elements called politicians wield in the society without any accountability worth the me. They always put on a cleverly designed built-in shield in the political system which protects them from all criticisms if their misdeeds by chance get exposed in the public. By the principle of majority opinion the realistic suggestions of the scientists, engineers, political philosophers are thrown overboard in favour of the group interest (or party interest) of a cunning section of the ruling elite. The result is death, deprivation and destruction all around from cold war, proxy war or war of civilizations, whatever be the me.
It will be relevant to briefly recount here the background of dropping the atom bomb over Japan in August 1945. When the devastating power of the bomb became known to the scientists working on it (in USA), they tried their best to dissuade the Allied War leaders from using this bomb. Niels Bohr, NL, the great physicist took a leading part in it and when he was giving a description of the power of the bomb and its implications for mankind to Sir Winston Churchill, the latter is reported to have cut in to quip, “Are you talking of physics or politics?”. Bohr understood the language and did not say anything more. No wonder, the bomb was dropped and more than a lakh of people’s lives in Japan were snuffed out by one lethal blow. This episode clearly brings out the difference between the humanism of the scientists and the insensibility of the politicians even of a statesman of the stature of Churchill; not to speak of their lesser breeds many of whom join politics from all sorts of profession including business in IMFL or IPL and the like. And an occasiol attempt to hood-wink the people by picking up a scientist – cum – technologist like late respected A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as a largely ormental Head of State amuses none except the politicians themselves.
Thus politics and politicians decide everything; our right to life and liberty, our identity, our friends and even our enemies. No doubt, it is not easy to find a fool-proof political system and it is even probable that no such system really exists. But can’t we think of a somewhat better political dispensation that the one we are having?