Last time when I was travelling for a seminar, I was surprised at the kind of crowd in Bangalore airport. It was usual for people to stand waiting in at least 5 queues before you reach your seat. At the security, as usual I also had to place my hand bag, mobile phone, laptop and other things. These days they would demand your belt also. I removed my belt for their inspection and when I placed it on the tray, I could feel that my trousers were sliding down since the waist of the trousers was loose. Holding the trousers in one hand, I tried to have a conversation with the next person standing on the same queue: `A large section of people these days are so keen to follow the rules and some others keep themselves busy by making rules for the servitude masses who do not question. For example, why should they take my belt? In any case, the security person will be doing a physical check on us,’ I told him. The passenger next to me turned to me. Obviously, an elite upper middle class face. `It is all for our own good,’ he said.  I did not dare to waste my time after that in a conversation with him again.

After all, we would rather be happy to be a nut or a bolt of a larger machine. The machine is supposed to be `for our own good’. The rulers are `for our own good’ and the handful of corporates who walk over our dead bodies with their greed are also `for our own good’. The rules are being made to be followed. But they forget that the system in between the rulers and the ruled is a bit inadequate in this large and thickly populated country. They are as confused as the general public. By the time the executors of the rules learn about the rules and their implications, a new set of rules are declared. The dazzled public keep on running here and there and forget that they have elected a Government to serve them.

Now, whose `good’ are we really talking about? We are getting trained to become robots for `their own good’ and not `our own good’. The eating machine introduced by Charlie Chaplin in the film Modern Times, brings out a sharp side of irony from this perspective. Just imagine, he brought out one of the major characteristics of our civilisation today, in the year 1936. The film still remains as a major political statement on the modern times in 2000 AD. When machines take over the role of human beings, the human beings walk like machines. A robot civilisation is the soul of modernisation. You don’t need a State or a corporate world or a police machinery to stand against our right to dissent or our freedom of expression and speech. People around us will do that job for them and try to make us feel that we are the problem. A large section of the servitude minds seems to be demanding in their prayers: `Give Us Our Daily Rules’. If they do not keep on getting rules to obey, they may become psychotic.

People in power need not exercise too much of energy today to do the nastiest and the dirtiest job which any civilised human being throughout history may condemn. Their robot servants in the media would praise them for their great service. Remember de-monetisation, GST, UID and Aadhar Card? Remember the daily incidents among the farmers, Dalits and women? Remember Kashmir, Gujarat and Kandhamal? And remember to count the number and per centage of people in this 130 crore population, who really chose to not remember such grave issues! If there is still a minority of people who still dissent with these memories, the walking machines in uniforms along with media robots will do a fine job to erase those memories from the brain of those who dissent. Remember FTII, JNU, Hyderabad University, Aligarh University and Jamia? And remember….!

As far as I was concerned, my loose trousers were haunting my consciousness than my social and political memories. `Why should walking machines be bothered about my nudity?’ I tried to rationalise. `Can these walking machines really feel their own nudity, if they wished to cover themselves?’ I wondered. Perhaps, it was my own problem that I was trying to treat machines as human beings. The walking machines are not scared of Climate Change, they are not bothered of the crude and yet organised ways through which our forests, rivers, hills, lakes, seas and the lands are looted, destroying the source of lives of these very machines who keep on walking. The cry of the child in Delhi recently along with the incidents of CAA/NRC/NPA which pierced our ears, could not be heard by their metallic ears. If there is no democracy, they would keep on pretending: `I just don’t care’, or still worse: `It is for our own good!’

I kept on moving in the queue, holding my trousers with one hand without talking to anybody around till I reached the security guard who had an official right to feel my body. He gestured me to raise my hands to both sides to facilitate his search for terrorism on my body. Since my loose trousers would not allow me to do the same, I raised my left hand, so that he could check that part of my body. But he was not happy. He looked at my other hand. I quickly held my trousers with my left hand and raised my right hand. He was getting irritated: `Dono Haath (Both hands)’, ordered the machine in the uniform with an angry look at me. I could not suppress my irritation further. I raised my sound and told him in Hindi with the same irritation that my trousers were lose and if he could get my belt back, I could raise both my hands together. I pulled the waist of my trousers and showed him how loose it was. `I don’t mind raising my both hands, but if my trousers fall down, it would be your responsibility,’ I told him.

The security guard’s jaw fell. He did not dare to look at me after that. He quickly pressed the seal on my boarding pass and without looking at me, he handed it to me. I walked past him like a victorious walking machine among the defeated ones.

K.P. Sasi  is a film maker, cartoonist and writer


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4 Comments

  1. Avatar David Kennedy says:

    I found this an enormously enjoyable article, so true to life. Thank you, K P Sasi.
    I had a similar experience 12 years ago and have not travelled by air since then.
    Unfortunately, we are all prisoners of ‘the system’ and the vast majority of us prefer to pay whatever price is demanded rather than opting out and refusing to be a part.
    A monster has been created with our acquiescence that is outside of our control.
    Fortunately, this monster is now locked, face to face, in battle with Mother Nature who will inevitably win. Sadly, we won’t be here to see it. War always has its victims.

  2. Precisely, David Kennedy. That was why in the last line, I was looking at the element of Walking Machine within myself also. We are placed in a situation when the search for alternatives will also be within the logic of rules of the mainstream. There is always an option to opt out saying, we will not participate in this destruction. But when we drink water, eat food or even breathe today, we are already participating in the destruction. The other way of looking at it is to tell ourselves that we can not opt out completely, but we will definitely reduce our compromises. That is one sensible way. But when I am discussing this with you using laptop, that itself is a compromise and a battle against Mother Nature. Still we do it with a hope that something positive will turn out in future. Otherwise, the only way to deal with the mess without compromising is to bury ourselves with Mother Nature. It may be good way out, but a defeatist one. We can be critical of the madness of those who are on the rat race for success. But is defeatism the answer? I can only say that we must keep our options open to a certain level for future to see.
    Thanks for your response.

  3. Avatar David Kennedy says:

    You are right, of course, life is always a compromise. Right also, this compromise can always be reduced, somewhat. As a young man, I fought a small part of the system. I survived. Nothing really changed, except to MY life.
    In middle age, I fought a bigger part of the system. It seemed as if I had won. I had not. The system didn’t really change, but nor did it forget.
    As an old man, I fought again. The waters were disturbed, a film was made (You’ve been Trumped), but nothing really changed.
    As a very old man, I wrote a book, about education, about Britain, about the last 1000 years, called “What’s in a Name?” The answer: Eton, Harrow, Oxford, Cambridge, the privileges (power) that flourish beneath the veneer of democracy: rule by the people!
    What passes, and what endures? For one thousand years of bending, transforming, disguising, and dissembling, amidst lots of changes, the privileges remain and nothing has really changed.
    My hopes are now entirely with Mother Nature. Sadly, I don’t think I will long enough to see the eventual victory.

  4. Interesting. But I have a different set of experiences. As a young man I fought with ideology. Nothing changed. Except that I made more enemies than friends and a short jail term. And to my horror, I realized that I was alienating my friends, supporters and potential supporters with my ideological convictions. Later, working with the mainstream as a cartoonist brought my rough edges down. Associating with diverse people’s movements made me realize my own privileges and the difficulties of struggles of the people for sheer survival. There was no other way but to become a better human being. During this period, I witnessed many successful struggles, many failures and many partially successful struggles. All of them ultimately created a cream of organic intellectuals who spent enough time on the weaknesses of the past and the way forward. A static ideology of the past was meant to be transformed within the present contexts. The blank spaces for social analysis were meant to be filled, in order to move ahead. The framework of ecological vision also bit me hard during these days. However, my humility tells me not to search for `one vision that explains everything” in this world. If it comes up in this world, it can become another religion. We are lucky that we are here in these troubled waters of ideology and practice. There is a lot to learn from this situation and pass on to the next generation. If the world really becomes beautiful, then there will be no role for people like us. Countercurrents,org will have to close down for losing its purpose.