The Attrition of Reason

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The so-called ‘Western powers’ in a rash bid to turn the Ukraine offensive into a nightmare for Russia and shell-shock the comity of nations that desperately yearn for peace has prodded Ukraine to launch more and more provocative attacks on Russia. Naturally it has entrapped Russia into more and more ruthless reprisals,which might well escalate to a nuclear strike.Whereas everybody knows that all Russia wanted was a simple guarantee that Ukraine will not join NATO.

The first irrational act had been their refusal to accept this quite reasonable proposal.Putin’s own response to this rejection had been a rash and smug order to his army to invade Ukraine, unaware that he was walking into a trap. Leaders of states must pay the price of their folly,and Ukraine too will not escape the ultimate costs of its present heroics with Western props.But what matters is something as dangerous and far less predictable than Climate Change,an uncontrollable slide of the world into a devastating conflgration.

Where is the sign of the vaunted rationality of the West supposedly superior to Russia’s mythical Eastern irrationality? Does this kind of strategy,angling for short-term gains in utter indifference to long-term chaos, meet the criteria of rational conduct?

This appears to be the symptom of the growing morbidity of late capitalism when the slogans of free enterprise,freedom of thought and rational control of life are belied increasingly in a world dominated by cartels fuelling political conflict and confusion.In the name of freedom they are keen to disarm nations of all their safeguards of sovereignty.

So far India seems to be eluding the trap of aligning with any of the belligerents.But since it seems absorbed in using this moment to picking up morsels left untouched on the table by the power blocs for the sole benefit of its own monopolists,it remains oblivious of the disasters that might follow further escalation of the present Russo-Ukrainian war.What it ought to have done is to mobilize neutral nations and public opinion in the countries that are being dragged down into recession for immediate and effective peace between the two countries.That certainly would have been a real and solid step forward for becoming a Viswa Guru!


The wild horses of unreason have thus enjoyed the opportunity to break loose and race into a stampede all over the country..A hair-raising incident was the ritual murder by a Hindu couple in Kerala on the advice of a Muslim tantrik.Which shows that for many decades to come the forces of reason cannot afford to slacken their guard,and the mission of Shastra Sahitya Parishad,launched by E.M.S.Namboodripad and others,has got to be revived with urgency.

In fact reason is getting overshadowed in every direction. Consider the initiative of the Science and Technology department to organise a high-level discussion on ‘ancient science’,starting with a confabulation on ‘Akash tattwa’,one among the Pancha Bhuta(five basic elements) of such science.The West had its own variety of ‘ancient science’ too in its notion of Four Elements,but has long since discarded it as outgrown by progress of science.But in our country whatever is old never ceases to be pure gold The confab is being sponsored by the National Science Adviser,no less,and manfully backed by Secretaries of all ministries. Doubtless it will yield more nuggets of valuable super-science like plastic surgery fixing the trunk on Lord Ganesha and space-travel fuelled by millions of tons of urine of donkeys.

The courts too are getting stalked by spectres of unreason.We are no longer stunned by fantastic observations by honourable judges and singular lacunae in their perspectives.We are not privy to the bagfuls of evidence against Umar Khalid, a supposedly dreaded terrorist.And his call for ‘inquilab’ has been marked down as incontrovertible evidence of his terrorist identity.(Incidentally it was Bhagat Singh,the hero most admired by the saffron brigades in the freedom movement who first raised the slogan ‘inquilab Jindabad’.)

But did Khalid give a call to pick up guns and swords to youths of the country to slaughter the leaders of government and seize power? He was in fact addressing elderly Muslin women each holding a copy of the Preamble to our Constitution in a peaceful sit-in at Shaheenbag, Delhi.Much more provocative of violence and mayhem had been BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s speech to an excited crowd with the words “Goli maro shalonko”. But Misra had been spared by law and order authorities and courts.

The testy observations on well-known human rights activist Teesta Setalvad by an SC bench had stunned even the general public innocent of legal expertise but endowed with shrewd common sense. Bhima Koregaon case has been used to tarnish the images of respected scholars like Anand Teltumbde and lawyers and fighters for rights of Adivasis,and put them behind bars.But clinching evidence by Arsenal Forensics that the alleged incriminating documents had been insinuated into the laptops of the accused have been just dismissed by judges without any reason.Are we to draw the conclusion that ‘desi’ science always trumps foreign science?

Government leaders today are prone to introduce policies at midnight amidst incense-smoke and incantations of sacred verses,leaving people in total darkness about their rationale.No wonder they are not withdrawn even in the face of serious consequences for the people. Any progress towards reason will be evident only in frank disavowal of such steps.

Hiren Gohain is a political commentator


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