A novelette by Bharat Dogra

Dogra 2071 Chapter2

How different will be the world 50 years from now? If the tendencies of domination and exploitation which are a major cause of distress even today get aggravated greatly in the future conditions of escalating climate change and other serious threats, how will life shape up then, and where will humanity then search for hope?

The conflict which had been building up in TT17 was hardly unique to this territory but in fact had been building up gradually in almost all the 53 specially designated TT Areas of Earth in varying degrees. In TT 17 the conflict was somewhat of a higher order and it was here that the contours of a rebellion had begun to take shape.

The beginning of these trends can be traced to around year 2030 when the disasters related to climate change and related factors had escalated suddenly. The fury of floods and cyclones increased to such an extent that the richest people started feeling insecure even in the strong and protected mansions and skyscrapers where they lived. During summer there was the additional risk from fast spreading fires which had increased greatly in both frequency and intensity. Air pollution had also increased to such threatening levels that even all the wealth of the richest people could not protect them from its grave threats.

It was in the middle of these increasing threats and dangers that the idea of special enclaves where the richest people could lead a highly secure as well as healthy and luxurious life caught on rapidly. Security not just from disasters but also from any other threat to their enormous wealth was to be assured through numerous steps. Pollution causing industries were to be shifted to other areas while residents of the new enclaves enjoyed highly automated life-style based on energy generated elsewhere and transferred to these enclaves for their energy-intensive life-style.

Although such thinking had always existed but the escalating disasters of the 1930s gave a new impetus to this. What is more. some of the biggest property developers came forward with their enormous wealth to push this and prevailed upon some governments to make huge land allotments for this. Areas of great natural beauty as well as safety were selected. When  there was resistance to this in these countries, the idea emerged of enclaves which would be beyond the jurisdiction of national governments. This paved the way for creating Top Luxury Top Security Enclaves ( TT Areas in brief) as special supranational enclaves  where the elites of any country and area could live as long as they had the wealth and the income to buy the highly expensive property and pay an annual membership fee.

Even those with a criminal record could join as long as they fulfilled these conditions and accepted some other rules. An international agreement was drawn up to get the legal acceptance for this from all governments. There was now legal basis for displacing a very large number of ordinary and poor people from designated TT Areas.

This idea caught on like wild fire among the world’s richest people and they hastened to buy the choicest properties in not one but in two or more enclaves to have the option of various natural settings and attractive entertainment industries.

Legal and illegal money from all over the world poured into these enclaves. Soon the number of these TT Areas was increasing rapidly and their number had increased to 53 by 2071. The area governed by national governments continued to shrink rapidly and for all practical purposed the TT Areas emerged as the centres of greatest attraction with the homes and offices of the richest people and the richest corporates being located here along with the headquarters of leading international institutions. Senior leaders and officials of national governments also took pride in the additional properties they owned in various TT Areas.

However as the TT Areas spread to a wider area, it was realized by their administrators that to ensure the ready supply of cheap labor as well as to find ready sites for locating polluting industries  and for disposing waste, widespread captive areas including a large number of people were  needed. Hence a second international agreement was reached to facilitate the attachment of one designated Captive Territory of Controlled Citizens ( briefly called CC Area) to each TT Area. Once again there was widespread opposition by people of areas which were to be designated as CC Areas but under the force of international agreements and the power of the richest persons, this opposition was suppressed.

Now an even bigger area of the world was separated from national governments and designated as TT Areas plus attached captive areas or CC Areas. With one CC Area for each TT Area, the number of both increased to around 53 by 2071.

As the heavily embanked and fortified TT Areas with their high walls and huge gates apparently conveyed a strong ( although illusory) idea of protection to elites, the TT-CC complexes continued to spread under highly authoritarian regimes which were considered necessary above all to keep the people of CC Areas under control despite the obvious and many-sided injustice against them. The CC Areas were patterned on a new phase of colonization, and the people living there were treated like the residents of a colony whose aspirations and needs had to be curbed so that they could fulfill the role of subordination demanded of them.

A large number of them, particularly women, went to work in TT Areas as domestic workers. Only some were allowed to stay there overnight. All others had to leave early in morning and return to their home in CC Area at night. The domestic workers were entirely at the beck and call of their employers and toiled for long hours at low wages and even lesser gratitude. They had to accept this work as there was very little other employment available on assured basis.

While even domestic workers had almost slave-like existence, several other women and even children were more specifically targeted for use as sex-slaves in TT Areas. This was a matter of very great resentment in CC Areas but at the same time some powerful persons within them colluded in this trafficking.

A large number of men of CC Area toiled as workers at highly mechanized farms, mines, factories and construction sites in highly hazardous and polluting conditions. Others were also sent to TT area, particularly for construction projects which too were heavily mechanized but still needed human inputs. Many workers suffered from accidents in the course of their work but got no relief or help. Many of these disabled workers lived a very distressing life in slums and villages.

As temperatures soared to earlier unheard levels with the accentuation of global warming, many workers had to toil in intolerably hot conditions . Many of them fainted while some even died in the intense heat at workplace. Their living places were highly exposed to rapidly spreading and incredibly fierce fires. In the rainy season floods had become increasingly fearsome, and in addition extra water was diverted towards the settlements of CC Areas to protect TT Areas from floods.

The very large number of people who  were displaced from their former homes in TT Area had to resettle on marginal land of CC Area without much support from the authorities and had to depend on domestic work to survive. As TT areas and their automated transport networks expanded, people of CC areas faced more displacement. This was one reason for the recent escalation of discontent in CC17.

Despite all this TT authorities were keen to create a false impression of caring.  For this they set up integrated bread loaf manufacturing  plants with huge wheat monoculture farms, all highly mechanized, and set up a system of supplying free bread loaves to all households every day.

Secondly they provided TV sets to all CC households. The TT authorities were publicized in CC Areas as those who provided free bread and entertainment every day. Two additional publicity points  were that the TT authorities provided protection from outside attack and provided many vaccines to protect from infectious diseases ( even though many of them were in reality used as guinea pigs, unknown to them). TV constantly promoted this false welfare image of TT authorities.

Every day sports events on a grand scale were held in TT Areas and these were telecast in CC Areas too. Highly glamorous films and TV entertainment programs with famous stars were produced in TT Area and also telecast here. These programs also highlighted themes of greed,  mutual jealousy, cut-throat competition, animosity, instant gratification, sex, violence and crime,  and presented stars of TT Area as the ultimate role models for the people of CC Area. While exposure to such selected TV content was excessive, there were many and severe restrictions on other uses of information technology in CC Areas which could have helped CC people to mobilize.

Sometimes a few upcoming young persons from CC Area, particularly those from loyal and influential households, also got small roles in these films and TV programs. Sometimes some youth from CC Area got employment in the lowest ranks of soldiers and police officials. These jobs were provided as part of a patronage network, and helped to create support for TT among the more influential households of CC Area.

People of several ethnicities and faiths had lived in harmony earlier, but now TV programs promoted animosity among them. The authorities patronized those faith or ethnic leaders who promoted hostility  against people of other faiths and ethnicities. Such leaders hence became more powerful and influential.

While health needs of people of CC were widely neglected, a pretense of care was created by placing too much emphasis on a variety of vaccines and publicizing all the time in highly exaggerated way that by providing these vaccines the TT authorities were protecting people from many deadly diseases and this benevolent role can only be performed by TT authorities. Unknown to CC women they were also administered an infertility vaccine  to keep down the population of CC Area to levels considered controllable by TT authorities, who at the same were also preparing robots to take up more and more work.

The entire educational system of CC Area had been reduced to serving the needs of TT Area by spreading ideas of subservience, accepting injustice silently and yet  remaining grateful towards TT authorities. The media also constantly harped on this theme.

Some of these trends of TT authorities had also spread among national governments ( or what remained of them ) and they also had become more authoritarian and pretentious in their governance.

The apparent success of the TT authorities had led to the more rapid spread of TT Areas. However there was also a hidden factor. Apart from the two widely known world agreements to establish TT and CC Areas , a secret  agreement had also been reached in which a decision was taken that no nuclear weapon will ever be used on TT Areas or in their proximity. It could be used far away from TT areas. As the word of this secret treaty spread among elites, the drive for finding a place in TT Areas intensified further.

This trend increased even more when a federation of all TT authorities was formed and it was announced that if any TT regime was threatened by an internal rebellion , all TT armies will come to the help of the threatened TT regime. This further enhanced the security feeling among the elites and they started considering TT areas as their best bet. Property development in TT areas became the biggest business opportunity of these times.

Despite all this, wherever there are very high and intolerable levels of injustice and inequality, exploitation and plunder, insult and indignity, the discontent of people will find some avenue and thus it was that despite the highly repressive regime the seedlings of a rebellion had begun to take firm roots in CC Area No.17.

To be continued…..

Bharat Dogra is a veteran journalist and author whose work has also been recognized in the form of several prestigious awards. He has written extensively on environmental and other increasing threats of future years in books like ‘Planet in Peril’ and ‘Protecting Earth for Children.’ His collection of Hindi short stories is titled Sachai Ki Kasam ( Under Oath for Truth) and collecton of Hindi poems is titled Kathin Daur Mein Ummeed ( Hope in Difficult Times).


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