The thought was incited when I read Mr. N R Narayana Murthy saying "Slogans will not make India a superpower" during the recent inauguration of the extension to the Training Centre at the DC of Infosys in Mysore.
Indians are highly inclined towards 'Drama'. Our Politics and Bollywood movies provide ample exemplars to it. A Government at the State or Centre isn't formed untill there is a bit of mud-slinging, accusations and counter-accusations, video-clips of unethical (highly subjective term) acts by a leader or his/her scion, digging the past, horse trading, defection and more of all these. Similarly, Bollywood movies. When Politics aggravate you, Bollywood would either make critics laugh or get die hard fans in tears or in a state of mesmersim. Some instances are here -
1. When you start dancing on the road, every person you encounter would know the dance steps!
2. One of the 2 identical twin or brother is always treading the wrong path (say Amitabh Bachchan in Deewar or Anil Kapoor in Roop ki Rani Choron ka Raja)
3. A 'Hero', if seen in a death scene would either die on his mother's lap/from his mother's hands (Sanjay Dutt in Vastav) or the 'Intekaam ki jwala' would be so highly inflammatory that the 'Hero' would end himself along with the villain (Shahrukh Khan in Baazigar)
4. A Hero if running in childhood, would go on to be an adult when the villain who killed his dad is chasing him and he gets on to a fast-moving Goods Train. The next destination cannot be anything other than Mumbai and the first place to be shown in Mumbai has to be either Victoria Terminus or Marine Drive!
4. And yeah....!! Who could forget the opening scene of Amar Akbar Anthony where 3 men (who eventually happen to be brothers) donate blood to a woman (who eventually is the mother of the eventual brothers) simultaneously. If that could have happened in reality, it would have made the life of many a surgeons easier perhaps!
With all these in tact which looks positive to rule our Politics and Bollywood for another few centuries or so, SLOGANS too occupy the forefront. We've had a plethora of Slogans. Some of them have inspired many to attain certain goals and some of them have been drubbed and severed into the nearest dustbins. Let's take a look at some of them which really made sense.
1. "Inquilab Zindabad", ,eaning "Hail the Revolution" or "Long Live Revolution". Came from the vociferous Shaheed Bhagat Singh. Boy! How did it inspire many a revolutionaries who disagreed with the non-violence preached and practiced by Mahatma Gandhi. Though violence would be the last thing any sensible person would want on this earth, it did make sense those days, given the treatement meted out by the Brits on Indians in their own motherland. Even the Bhagavadgita speaks of the '4 Diplomatic Principles' i.e. - Saama, Daana, DanDa, Bheda - meaning - to correct someone politely (Saama), to correct someone by giving (Daana), to correct someone by punishment (DanDa) and to correct someone by way of discrimination (Bheda)
2. Next that comes to my mind is one more given during the freedom struggle. "Quit India" by Mahatma Gandhi during the 'Quit India Movement' or 'Bharath ChoDo Aandolan' in 1942. Very easily, one of those movements which made the Indian struggle stonger and eventually the world's most powerful empire of those days crippled and crumbled.
3. By far, the oldest I can remember, again from the Freedom struggle - "Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it!". Came from Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
4. Freedom struggle slogan one more time - "Simon, go back!", given by Lala Lajapat Rai who was more popular as 'Lion of Punjab' or 'Punjab Kesari'. "Simon, go back!" was given at the backdrop of 'Simon Commission', a team of British MPs that came to India. During one of those protests against the Simon Commission, Lala was injured by the caning of the Brits and lost his life.
5. "Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan", meaning, "Hail the Soldier, Hail the Farmer". This is my most favourite Slogan, given that it emphasizes the importance of two of our saviours to whom we will always remain indebted, no matter what! Given by Lal Bahadur Shastri in the mid 1960s. It primarily came to motivate our soldiers to remain committed in defending the Nation (May be we had just fought a war with Pakistan) and also were facing an acute shortage of food. It had an addition in 1998 by the then PM A B Vajapayee after the 'success' (over which question marks are raised now) of Pokhran Tests which was "Jai Vigyaan"
When these slogans will always find a reverred place in the history books, there are a few extra-celestial ones which lost meaning or were rejected by the public. Here are a few of them.
1. "Gareebi HaTaao" - If this worked/works nothing better than that. It did make sense when it was given by the 'Iron' Lady, Late Indira Gandhi, our Former PM during the 1971 General Elections. It also helped her and her party garner many a votes and create a bastion for them for decades to come. But the Slogan remained a Slogan for some of these very reasons. Today, 350 million Indians are illiterates. 318 million Indians do not have access to safe drinking water. 250 million Indians do not have access to basic medical care. 630 million Indians do not have access to sanitation facilities. 51% Indian children are undernourished. 52% of primary schools in India have only one teacher for every 2 classes. 300 million Indians live on Rs. 545 per month. Looks like the almighty abode under-heard the slogan to be "Gareebi BaDhao". Though the Slogan was in the right direction and thought, it remains meaningless as the WILL to implement the same wasn't the same as the will to discover or create that Slogan!
2. "India Shining" - It was a classic case of over-optimism from the BJP led NDA in the 2004 General Elections. With all the above mentioned statistics at it's helm, who could see the shine and glitter in India? Rural India which is the 'Electoral strength' of our political parties couldn't connect themselves with "India Shining" like the Urban India who are their 'Economic Strength'. It deservedly failed.
3. "Chak De! India" - Though a movie title, it soon turned out to be a Slogan. Very soon it also lost significance as the Indian Hockey Team whom it wanted to inspire to regain it's lost glory, failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics 2008.
4. "Jai Ho!" - Every jerk in India shouts this Slogan now, thanks to the legendary A R Rahman and 10 Academy Awards to the movie 'Slumdog Millionaire'. Say for example, India wins the toss, elects to bat, wins the match with very little contribution from M S Dhoni. A Dhoni fan would eulogize Dhoni's decision to bat first and shout "Jai Ho! Dhoni Bhayya". Similarly, when some XYZ party wins a corporation or a Panchayat election, the winners would be taken on a victory parade across the city or the village with the supporters howling "Jai Ho! XYZ". A resounding and an unequivocal "Jai Ho!" to all those jerks from my end! :-))
These were a few glimpses about the Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down Slogans. When a few can inspire people, many would remain meaningless. But none would be a success unless and untill acted upon with the WILL. Incessant rains last week in Bangalore made common man's life a literal HELL. When the Chief Minister's car can zoom as per it's well and wish causing mayhem to the general public at large, why should TVS Scooty of a common man drown in rain due to improper planning by the civic authorities? When our Corporate honchos get all facilities and amenities, why does an old lady need to accomodate rain water in her hut? When a Tirumala Vamana Achari is working as Thomas at a call centre and gloating over the burger from McDonalds, why should a petty shop owner get up from sleep in midnight to ensure his daily bread is not washed away?
It is a clear case of the 80-20 principle. 20% of the privileged ones are enjoying 80% of the wealth, benefits, ammenities, privileges and all luxuries. The gap needs to be drastically reduced. One Prof. Sunil Khilnani, Director of the South Asia studies at John Hopkins University at Washington compares India to a 2-lane road. He says Indians as of now are like the traffic on that 2-lane road facing the same direction. The traffic (people) on one lane has taken off and is moving at a considerable speed. Very soon their speed will increase. Meanwhile, the traffic (people) on the other lane is watching the 1st lane traffic move. Very soon they will get restless. Restlessness will turn into agitation and there will be a total chaos and destruction. I think the situation of 2 set of people in India as of now sums up all with this instance!
Hence, the new term coined by our dear PM Dr. Manmohan Singh is 'Inclusive growth'. India 2020 dream will be a reality only if the growth is inclusive. If growth is measured in terms of Chandrayaan, revenues and margins of Top 10 Corporates in various sectors, success of only money-spinning sporting events and neglecting the National and indigenous sports, if Industrialization is at the cost of Agriculture and ecology, then we are living in a delusive India and not a Super Power India.
All we need to achieve this is the "Yes we can!" attitude of US President Mr. Barack Obama and the WILL to achieve it. Till these do not turn out the way they need to, over-optimisitc and spineless Slogans will only be a 'Slow-Gun'!