India is unique in more ways than we can even comprehend. We talk about our ancient culture, art and aesthetics, but as a nation, we believe in progress- financially. It is strange that the notion of progress and development has actually come down to us from the long centuries of foreign domination hinging on the unfair trade practices by the colonising and enterprising nations of the west. Progress is calculated on the basis growth rate year on year. But how can that be, without displacing others, without actually engaging in unfair practices that the consumption increases 20% without a similar increase in population in the same period? The stock markets, however, need to show that kind of growth to remain relevant, the growth which is really, exhibitioners.
Marx gave us a view of the inherent struggle between the capitalist and the proletariat as envisioned by him. Further, Raymond Williams and Louis Althusser deliberated on the dynamism that capitalism had, and thus adapted itself to arguably fool the world. It has been discussed in the intellectual arenas of the neo-marxists that capitalism has almost become invincible. It has, with its power of capital and influence, dominated the education system and has revamped the process that led to generations after generation believing what is profitable for the business, which is most respectable for professionals. For example, the most well paying jobs in the world today are into IT and software development. It is an irony that a common man cannot understand the life-cycle of software is hardly any more than the seasonal, soft-developmental work undertaken by MNEREGA in rural India. They both become obsolete in no time.
Let us take the example of the recent transformations in the banking system. The human-factor, the face of the bank, is fast being pushed into obscurity. The person who was employed to service the customers is fast being replaced by ATM machines for all the monetary transactions. The factories are being constructed for manufacturing these ATM machines that are generating jobs. But we should not neglect that these mechanical jobs are way inferior to jobs in a bank that these machines are replacing. Thus, as we have been watching, from centuries of modernity, the modern technology, driven by capitalism, has only played foul with the ‘human’ aspect of humanity. The progress is actually a regress.
The jobs in coding, and software development are so incredibly harmful for the people behind their development. Their bodies, their eyes, their lives are so profoundly getting affected. They themselves have become machines, trying to make another machine, but they don’t realise. Or maybe some of them do. What, after all, can they do?
I think of the pollution that is growing every day, getting worse, choking us, with the air we need to breathe, to live. We never needed this development. An agrarian way of life would have been much better. The truth that we see is hardly any. The smoke from the woods burning inside a hut for cooking food could have been better than the poisonous mix of gasses our power plants are emitting every second. I often end up saying, “don’t believe the truth”, but you see, it is arguable.
Capitalism has transformed the way we think, we see, we believe. It has a grip on the social and cultural transformation and it feeds us with what we eat, unknowingly. I can only think of Kalidasa’s Abhijnanasakuntalam, the king, Dusyanta, chasing a deer in the pristine environs of the untouched forest. A chase is what he delights in, I remember. Chasing the snow, chasing the cascading river, a chase to end all the chases, a chase for some fresh air, a chase which is not chase at all, but an adventure, a relaxation, a tranquil, a refreshment, a recreation. And I wish to recreate, if not for all, then for myself. I want to run, to the hills, where the air is so clean…
“Over the green hills and into the sun
That’s where I feel I ought to be goin’
Blue sky above me and green earth below
Don’t even matter which way I go!
The trees hold their arms out to catch what life gives
But the people try to snatch all there is
They can have all I own. I don’t need anything,
I’ll just follow the river, and see what it brings.
I need to be free where the air is clean
And the sparking river is cool on my skin
When the sun shines I’ll follow it’s glow
And I won’t stop moving till it’s sinking low.” – Free (the band)