Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Elite

Elite (also spelled √Člite) is taken originally from the Latin, eligere, "to elect". In sociology as in general usage, the √©lite is a relatively small dominant group within a large society, which enjoys a privileged status envied by individuals of lower social status.

The position of an elite at the top of the social strata almost invariably puts it in a position of leadership and often subjects the holders of elite status to pressure to maintain their position as part of the elite. However, in spite of the pressures, the existence of the elite social stratum is usually unchanged.

I have been reading much after the Mumbai tragedy; and have sensed the helplessness felt by a common Indian like me (the common Indian is not elite I presume). I have always felt that unless the sensibility of the rich and the powerful in our country is awakened, nothing positive can happen. In a sense it was woken by the Mumbai tragedy since they were more shaken than the rest. Nothing they relied upon was able to save them from the onslaught. One can continue blaming Pakistan, Islamic militant etc. but deep down we all know (but continue to deny) that the problem is not just that, but much more. It is also time that for those who can make a change, realized that protecting themselves is not going to solve the problem if they want an India free from hatred and fear.

I am not going to waste my time in writing eulogy on the elite, who are present across the country; and in every religion, but somehow the article in, "Death of a salesman and other elite ironies" by Tarun J Tejpal, editor-in-chief, Tehelka magazine, who calls himself an elite appealed much to me. I have copied some excerpts.

For me there is a deep irony in his death. He was killed by what he set very little store by. In his every meeting with us, he was bemused and baffled by Tehelka's obsessive engagement with politics. He was quite sure no one of his class -- our class -- was interested in the subject. Politics happened elsewhere, a regrettable business carried out by unsavoury characters

It is time each one of us understood that at the heart of every society is its politics. If the politics is third-rate, the condition of the society will be no better. For too many decades now, the elite of India has washed its hands off the country's politics. Entire generations have grown up viewing it as a distasteful activity. In an astonishing perversion, the finest imaginative act of the last thousand years on the subcontinent, the creation and flowering of the idea of modern India through mass politics, has for the last 40 years been rendered infra dig, dclasse, uncool. Let us blame our parents, and let our children blame us, for not bequeathing onwards the sheer beauty of a collective vision, collective will, and collective action. In a word, politics: which, at its best, created the wonder of a liberal and democratic idea, and at its worst threatens to tear it down.

And let no one tell us we need more laws. We need men to implement those that we have. Today, all our institutions and processes are failing us. We have compromised each of them on their values, their robustness, their vision and their sense of fair play. Now, at every crucial juncture we depend on random acts of individual excellence and courage to save the day. Great systems, triumphant societies, are veined with ladders of inspiration. Electrified by those above them, men strive to do their very best. Look around. How many constables, head constables, sub-inspectors would risk their lives for the dishonest, weak men they serve, who in turn serve even more compromised masters?


  1. Happy Kitten, your last question is depressingly true and says all that needs to be said about the rot that has hollowed this nation. Something needs to be done in a hurry or we will have to face some sort of a revolution,

    That apart, let us not minimise the real and grave threat that Pakistan has been posing for decades while keeping us cleverly deflected by interminable dialogue and people-to-people contact to make us forget 1947 and after, and believe that fairy tales are real.

  2. I am not saying that Pakistan should not be tackled; yes they need to be, specially since we find Zardari jumbling even more these days..but we have more work at home too..

    even if Pakistan collapses on its own, India's problem will still not go away unless we clean our own system.

  3. Yes, I totally agree with you. Both problems need to be sorted fact, if we sort out our internal mess, it will help us deal more decisively with Pakistan.

  4. Hi chechi,

    Tarun Tejpal's article was thought provoking. The alarming difference between India's poor and rich is really a cause of concern. India is home for some of the richest men in the world, however a significant percentage of population is still deprived of basic amenities.

    I have no doubt that by all means we need to stop pakistan from exporting terror with the support of pak army. However we should not forget that we have venomous politicians who can match manzoor ahmed mazood by all means. Advani is still projected as Prime ministerial candidate and Modi might well get another term as gujarat CM. People who wants Davood Ibrahim from pakistan, forget the fact his network is still intact in mumbai. Why cant we track down his associates here at home?
    There is something horribly wrong.

  5. Ajith you are asking a crucial question about Dawood. Everyone knows his network still exists and there are many who are consciously or unconsciously benefactors of his "generosity". In fact, those whom we see expressing their horror on TV may be later expressing their glee to him. This needs to be set right as early as possible. As for politics and politicians, they will always play their cards but I am pray that every Indian who loves his motherland sees through him/her.


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