Wednesday, August 13, 2008

India : Winter in August

The loud euphoria that we experienced when Abhinav Bindra won the Gold medal made me wonder about what might be the level of excitement that one might expect in countries where winning medals is a little more common. Are they the same? How is it in China where at this time, they are leading the United States. Long considered the lead medal winner in the Olympics. When some in say the US or South Korea wins a model what would it be like? I am sure that victory is cherished every where but do things go berserk as they seemed to do in India?

Watching the television channels meant going through the usual inane experience of the breathless and overwhelmed anchors grabbing the parents of the shooter and discussing his status on being further elevated among the ranks of the eligible bachelors of India.

It probably reveals the levels of pain in the nation that we are happy and ready and willing to grasp at the tiniest wisp of good news that comes around. After all every morning’s news just makes for escalating bad news. Every one seems to be holding on mere shreds of hope. Even the Olympics have been stained. Witness the upheaval for example when Monika Devi of Manipur was subjected to a dope test and implicated only to be told too late that the test was flawed. That agony has been drowned by the rapidly escalating violence in Jammu and Kashmir.

Ever since the early days of the New Year when first the stock market started crashing, it would seem that nothing has gone right for India. The rising crude oil prices, the accompanying inflation, the rising interest rates on loans, particularly housing loans, the continuing terrorist attacks, instability in the Central Government, numerous incidents have rocked the nation, literally leaving it battered and bruised.

This Independence Day that will be upon us in a couple of days will be the bleakest in years. Most parts of the country are disturbed and traumatized in one way or the other. The situation in Jammu and Kashmir looks to be so bad that the government is short of its weapon of last resort – the armed forces are in short supply and there is talk of shifting troops from the Line of Control into areas like Kishtwar in J&K.

The newspapers are running advertisements that trains are being “regulated” in Assam. Night running of trains is being halted and when they do run they will run with bullet proof coating as befits a country and a railway system in siege. Because this year likes many others, the ULFA is bleeding Assam to death. Any one else calling a bundh on Independence Day would have run the risk of being accused of sedition but not them.

In Jharkhand, Shibu Soren is proclaiming openly that he should be made the chief minister replacing the present incumbent practically overnight or else like a petulant child, he would again withdraw support potentially plunging the beleaguered central government into yet another crisis and in the process reducing the already polluted market place politics to the haggling and bargaining that goes on in the village haat. In every place there is nothing but gloom except in that one gold medal that was our destiny this year. Even the silver medalist of the last Olympics, Lt.Col. Rathode failed to qualify for the finals in his particular shooting event. Meanwhile, in Delhi, the skies are often overcast in that broody way, that casts a pall of gloom every where. The rains have ensured that there is a slight nip in the air and the temperature is many degrees below the normal. May be it is time to get the sweaters out….. it looks like it might be winter in August…..

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