Flowering democracy

A variety of multi-colored flowers strung together in harmonious patterns each complementing the other, distinct yet united in a single spectacular garland. Is there any more apt analogy for India’s diversity in unity?

Politicians of every stripe, hue, caste, religion and party affiliation are paraded in front of the voters with huge garlands adorning their relatively smaller physiques – the composite picture is a sight for sore eyes (the flowers are a soothing distraction from the mostly dull and drab personalities).

The size of the garlands has grown exponentially in tandem with the burgeoning egos of the politicians and in direct relation to the sycophancy of the star-struck supporters. Even most divine deities are not bedecked with such a profusion of flowers but the human versions, wilting in the arid and thorny political climate, seem to bloom in the cloistered company of family, friends and fervent fans.

The fancy flowering has continued in spite of calls by some political figures, with smaller egos (and probably on the receiving end of fewer garlands), to stop this garish garlanding and more significantly despite security concerns that the politicians could be sticking their necks out to face the concealed intentions of insidious individuals.

Elections are energizing times for the makers of garlands (both natural and artificial), providing a slightly different take on “flower power”. Business is brisk as hordes of enthusiastic, determined and politically savvy citizens clutch freshly bought garlands and then make a beeline for the candidates, each desperate to get their hand around the necks of the politicians and shower them with public displays of affection.

The politicians in turn take turns at garlanding each other, their living mentors and the statues of dead mentors and an ever increasing list of historical heavyweights. As history progresses, the wisdom of the bygone bigwigs seem to exponentially expand while their mortal failings fade into the distant past. A gallery of statues and a host of memorial monuments pay homage to the memory of monumental beings that trod this earthly soil, unsoiled and unsullied by the fate of lesser beings.

Lest ordinary people, inured to the constant presence of the stone structures, tend to forget or confuse the legendary leaders, present-day politicians ensure that the litany of the legendary lore is repeated in each public speech and meeting while erecting ever more statues to their mentors. Some rationalist politicians while decrying what they perceive as superstitions and idol worship of gods among religious Hindus, have no qualms about idealizing and idolizing their mentors – human beings possessing mortal frailties – who have in effect become deified in death.

Along with an ever expanding population, India’s pantheon of political idols is sure to keep proportionate pace and the urban landscape will be liberally littered with the statues and shrines of legendary leaders.

The dense crowds of living beings, who live a condensed version of existence, pay humble homage to their heroes – who occupy a larger space of history and geography both in life and in afterlife. The large garlands hanging from the statues are tributes to individuals who lived large from those who can only dream of a rosy existence.


(www.embar.net – for additional articles)


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