WITH EYES WIDE OPEN
D. N. Bezboruah
We all have journeys to perform and destinations to reach in both literal and figurative ways. If the destination is an important one, we often pass through a grand portal on our way there. And the portal often tells us how significant the destination is. But we cannot afford to be unduly concerned about the portal no matter how imposing it might look. The wise person must single-mindedly keep in mind the destination and not be distracted by other attractions. One of the major setbacks to development in the Northeast is that we often tend to forget our destination when our journey takes us through imposing portals. And in talking about journeys in a figurative sense our destinations naturally happen to be rather cerebral in nature.
It is amazing to see the number of people who can be induced to forget about their journeys by a bit of flattery. We have only to be told how well we are doing to forget about the journey we have embarked on and to rest on our oars. Many years ago, this did not matter very much, because we were so far behind in different kinds of competition that we merely gaped in amazement at what others were doing to succeed in diverse fields of human activity. Today the scenario is quite a bit different. We are no longer mere spectators. We have started participating in different kinds of competitions and started doing remarkably well in different fields of human activity. Take the domain of film-making for instance. Apart from Jahnu Barua, Dr Santwana Bordoloi and Utpal Barpujari, we have Zubin Garg too who has moved so effortlessly from the world of music to produce a film like Mission China. There is every reason for every Assamese to hold his/her head high that Rima Das’ Assamese film Village Rockstars, which was named the Best Feature Film at the 65th National Film Awards, is India’s official entry for the 2019 Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category. And moving from the world of film-making to the realm of sports, we have the sensational Hima Das who has won gold even in international sprinting, and is constantly improving her timing. What marks her as a true professional is her statement that she is not interested in medals but only in improving her timing. She is working on improving her 400 metres timing by just 0.01 second which often marks the difference between the winner and the runner-up in major track events. In the realm of sports we also have Hriday Hazarika who has done so well even in international shooting competitions. The difference has not only been seen, but is beginning to be tellingly made in different sports events. True, we still have a long way to go, but we are certainly making a beginning and the kind of effort that pays dividends. In addition to making sustained efforts to improve timings there must be greater attention paid to the selection of world-class equipment related to different sports disciplines that will enhance performance. In addition, there must be far greater attention paid by sports authorities to the right kind of food that will keep athletes and sportspersons in good health.
In Assam, people related to different human activities evince a penchant for talking mainly about potential. This was perhaps the only thing that people could do when there was a lot of expectation in the region’s potential but few instances of potential being translated to performance. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that there is no dearth of talent in Assam and the other States of the Northeast. But merely talking about talent when we do not have a clue as to what is to be done with that talent does not get us anywhere. Today, people are better aware of what to do with that talent and where to find the right guru who can convert talent to performance. So we can see that things are beginning to happen that we only pined and hoped for ten or twenty years ago. What is most encouraging in this change is that there is so much more of self-confidence and self-awareness among our youth. There is this sense of “If others can do it, so can we.” This self-confidence must be nurtured and metamorphosed to performance in many other fields of human activity. Out of this will emerge the huge band of prospective performers that will give the Assamese a new identity as competent performers that should go a long way in changing the perceptions that people have about us.
We must begin to think more productively about the destinations that have to be reached in the next few years for us to be recognized as leading Indian citizens. This cannot happen if we have the stigma of being tolerant of all kinds of crime. Unfortunately, we seem to have been at the forefront of criminal activities in the last few years. These activities have included murder, rape, the sale of women and children and some other crimes that have made a mockery of how our legal system functions. We need to set our house in order before we can presume to talk about how other people should run their affairs. As things are now, we are like people vainly striving to reach destinations that we are not clear about. And this is a situation that no one can be complacent about.
If we are in unfamiliar territory, it becomes our responsibility to find our location and then take steps to proceed to where we want to be.
The inability to decide on where we would like to be is part of the malaise that characterizes the kind of indecision that we have tolerated about our preferences. Before we strive for ambitions relating to our preferred lifestyles, it is far more important to determine what we really expect our future to be like in terms of the value systems that are approved in all civilized societies. Once we accept that how we live our lives is far more important than what we get out of our lives, we can have the satisfaction of having led useful lives.