Indians are a gullible people I am often told. So gullible that they may actually be convinced into believing that the earth is flat. Or else explain to me the emergence of Godmen/Godwomen, self styled or otherwise like a veritable assembly line. Poor Indians, rich Indians, illiterate Indians, educated Indians, rural Indians, urban Indians, resident and non resident Indians. All Indians! Caste, religion, sex, geography, language no bar.
The myths, legends and stories of this land are laced with a unique amalgamation of mysticism, romance and fantasy. From flying chariots to flying carpets, Indian mythology encompasses the entire spectrum. The ability of Rishis, Babas, Saints and Sufis to deliver you from any and all suffering, real and imagined has a pride of place in holy books as well as popular folklore of this land. Given this foundation it is no surprise that our minds are programmed to accept the modern day Babas who while living a life of opulence and luxury pretend to possess a hotline to God! And some require a private army trained in modern warfare to help them send you on a path of salvation without a return ticket!
Given the above it would come as no surprise to anyone that I too am afflicted with an urge to believe and follow! Who after all doesn’t want to experience miracles! In fact my list of The Miracle Makers is long, very long.
Two hundred years of slavery had reduced the land of prosperity and plenty to one of poverty and penury. As India attained her freedom the overwhelming narrative was one of it being seen in the capitals of leading countries with a begging bowl, the permanently hungry pariahs wailing ‘bhavati bhiksham dehi!’ And amidst this prophecies of gloom and doom arose a Baba, a Saint who conducted what is thus far the greatest ‘Annadaanam’ Scheme this country has witnessed and continues to do so. Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan weaved his magic wand and along with his army of fellow scientists and farmers changed the destiny and with it the landscape of India. From famines to self sufficiency of food. Green Revolution! The Miracle and the Miracle Maker!
With the abolition of Zamindari and land reforms, the farmers of India breathed a tad easier. But for a country which lived in her villages and populated by mostly illiterate people with limited resources, Independence did not result in any significant change in their lives or livelihood. Political freedom is a misnomer without economic equality. The village economy still centralized the entire economic and political power into select hands comprising of middlemen and mahajans . While the Shylock took more than his pound of flesh, the middle man usurped the rest. The unorganized small farmer and worker might have felt like still living under the shadow of alien rule. Till one man decided to dirty his hands. To organize the poor Indian villager, bring them together and convert them into a single entity so powerful that it transformed the lives of millions. And in the bargain created what the self proclaimed followers of Marx couldn’t but an unassuming man did, Utopia! Also known as The Milk Cooperatives! You and I identify it more easily as the ‘Taste of India.....AMUL!’ Operation Flood which turned India into the world’s largest producer of milk, the White Revolution, the Miracle! Verghese Kurien. The Miracle Maker!
|Bhabha and not just any Baba!|
Independence came to Indians the hard way. 1962 taught her that a thin line divided the hard won Independence and slavery all over again. India was again seen at the capitals of the super powers and its allies, once again chanting ‘bhavati bhiksam dehi!’ Only this time it was for the toys which will protect India’s freedom by protecting its borders. These were the times when India’s foreign exchange reserves were not measured in $ Millions and Billions but by weeks, days and hours. For an impoverished nation the choice was of whether to allocate the scarce resources to either feed her people or to protect them from invasion yet again. In the end India did both. While the men mentioned in the above paragraphs helped give directions for the former, yet another laid the path which lead to India developing technology which not only helped her indigenously build deterrence strong enough to ward off her enemies but also help her address her energy needs. The trail blazed by him sowed the seeds which later revolutionized science and scientists in this country. Homi Jahangir Bhabha, the Father of India’s Nuclear Programme, The Miracle Maker!
Indians are a gullible people I am often told. I too am afflicted with an urge to believe and follow! Who after all doesn’t want to experience miracles! Go ahead, you too. Believe. Choose you Miracle Makers wisely. And follow!
PS: With sincere apologies to Ramlals and Nityanandas of this world for whom all I have is 'Babaji ka........!'
Rishi, Baba, Sufi: Ascetics, Saints etc.
Bhavati Bhiksham Dehi : Sanskrit. A beggers’ cry for alms.
Annadanam: Gifting food.
Zamindar/Zamindari: Landlord/Landlordism prevalent in pre Independence India