India is a country where the season of digging, for various purposes, is endless
By Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal
All that glitters is not gold, said the Bard. The history of the Yukon gold rush that inspired Charlie Chaplin to make his greatest film ‘Gold Rush’ reveals the disappointing journey of one lakh people chasing the dream of striking gold since only about 4,000 people were successful. It is far more ironic that in this day and age, a country bogged down by myriad problems of illiteracy, health issues and poverty should bank on such miracles as striking gold only because an ascetic dreamt that treasure lay buried in a temple premises in Unnao district in Uttar Pradesh.
Still, a greater paradox that the Archaeological Survey of India takes up the digging work, reasoning that there is historical evidence of treasure being buried up somewhere around the site. What if treasure were really to be found at the place?
Who does it belong to? Will, as the dreamer saw, this gold be used to bail out India from its present economic crisis? Or will it land in some museum as an artifact? Whatever be the final utilization, it is most unlikely that this gold would come in handy for the marginalized sections of the country, those reeling under deprivation, swathed in utter poverty and misery.
Will it ultimately kindle a kind of anarchy, the lure of gold corrupting a diverse section of people, over the rightful claimant of the gold, if any were to be found, like the fable of MacKenna’s gold, a novel that inspired a blockbuster Hollywood hit? Unmindful of these questions, the digging is going on in full swing.
India, as it is, is a country where the season of digging, for various purposes, is endless.
There are pot holes dug by nature or man, and pits left carelessly unattended and un-barricaded so that news channels can get busy running day long shows on the children who accidentally tumble into them. Roads are dug up round the year because even sixty years after independence, the country’s planners cannot have a vision for planning roads and infrastructure beyond 20 years. By the time the infrastructure is ready for use after prolonged delays, cost over runs and marked by massive irregularities and scams, it is already outdated enough and it’s time for another digging spree.
A major road on way to my office has been dug up at least a dozen times in the last five years, for purposes such as laying or rectifying sewerage pipes, cabling, water connections, widening and so on and so forth. It almost makes one suspicious whether the real story is actually the lack of planning and co-ordination between various departments that keeps the road dug up throughout the year or is there some kind of an unknown gold rush that inspires these men at work, endlessly digging up. In either case, the digging of roads is not going to minimize.
The lure of gold is too intoxicating for the pursuit to be abandoned and if indeed it is the former case, it may be a bit much expecting from an administration in complete chaos to broker some kind of a mechanism of co-operation and co-ordination between the various government departments at work. I’d rather wait for the day when technology can give us roads with zips and underground tunnels to atleast save the people from the inconvenience of dug up roads and piled up debris.
In the nineties, Kashmir started having a busy season for grave diggers, working overtime to bury the dead – the identified ‘martyrs’ and the unidentified slain tagged with numbers and no names, nobody to offer flowers and prayers at their graves, as security officials and government departments got busy burying the truth under the dug-out debris of lies and fudged evidence. The grave diggers have slowed down since but the season hasn’t fully ended; young men are still killed so that the grave diggers can go about their undesirable jobs.
Digging is fashionable for more reasons than that. We are good at digging for excuses in our day-to-day lives. We dig up enemies even where they are none, so that they can be conveniently blamed for the wrongs, like ISI and Pakistan remain the fashionable all time enemy of India; they can be blamed for anything under the sun as if we are pictures of perfection on our own akin to Vinci’s art. Politicians take digs at each other and go on with their mud-slinging combats and dig some dirt up. They along with bureaucrats dig deep into the pockets of the state exchequer for absolute loot and plunder. They dig their heels in when it comes to non-issues like Ayodhya temple as if the future of the nation depends on that. Some eventually, and thankfully for the rest of us, by doing that dig up their own graves.
I do wish it was equally fashionable to dig for truth and not be satisfied with the half-baked knowledge for the sake of our own convenience and short term comfort. I wish even more that we could have the ability to once in a while dig into our souls and introspect how we fare as humans and citizens of this country and the world.