Ye Sarkaar hamaare aur aap jaise logo ki nahi hai (This Government is not for people like you and me) screamed the new age socialist leader from a podium in the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi.
The crowd roared in total appreciation.
Ye Bade Bade Udyogpatiyon ki sarkaar hai (This is a Government of the big Industrialists) He screamed again.
The Crowd roared back to appreciate more.
Which brings me to the golden question, why do we hate the rich so much? Why does the term “Industrialist” reminds us of a potbellied baddie draped in expensive suits, living in swanky bungalows, swigging exclusive scotches and doing all kinds of bad stuffs. If he can afford stuff that 95% of people can’t, why hate him. Giving back to the society or not, doing charities or not is completely his prerogative. No?
We all have grown on the staple diet of Bollywood Masala flicks where the hero from the slum (generally a mechanic, coolie or just jobless) romances the daughter of the superrich and superbad Industrialist who hates poor. Iqbal from Coolie and Raja from Ishq just go on to show our love for the underprivileged heroes. Or just remember the stories that our grandparents have narrated to us, the 2-boys-1 rich-1-poor-template stories where the poor goes on to become an example for the society and the rich just harms people and then hatches plans to destroy his poor friend.
अधमा: धनमिच्छन्ति धनं मानं च मध्यमा:।
उत्तमा: मानमिच्छन्ति मानो हि महताम् धनम्।।
The above Sanskrit Shloka translates to “The inferior desires for wealth, the mediocre desire for wealth and wisdom and the superior just craves for wisdom for it is the purest wealth.” Even the kings in our great epics gave up their wealth and went out in forests to attain wisdom in the final stage of their lives. Richness makes a person bad by default. This is embedded in our mind-sets.
This very sentiment of ours has been encashed by our eminent politicians, most notably by the Congress and the Left Parties. In order to achieve an India where there is no rich and poor divide, Nehru’s Fabian ideas committed India to an economy in which the state owned, operated and controlled means of production, in particular key heavy industrial sectors such as steel, telecommunications, transportation, electricity generation, mining and real estate development. Private activity, property rights and entrepreneurship were discouraged or regulated through permits, nationalization of economic activity and high taxes were encouraged, rationing, control of individual choices and Mahalanobis mode considered by Nehru as a means to implement the Fabian Society version of socialism(Source: Wikipedia). This naturally dissuaded the entrepreneurs and the ones who wished to get rich. Many left India to pursue the great American dream and the ones left were bound to tread the path of corruption courtesy the strict and gibberish Socialist policies. Till today the very mention of pro-industrialists political party makes it a branded evil. The right wingers that believe in a practical approach to work/life and consider social inequalities as inevitable or even desirable come across as natural villains. Left wingers, the diehard romantics that believe in an ideal world free of rich poor divide and/or social inequalities seem like one of us. Right wingers known for their pro-development attitude naturally become the agents of the corporates.
When it was evident that the BJP was going to win the general elections, The UPA government pulled a rabbit from their hat at the very last minute by introducing the Food security bill and the onus lied on BJP’s head. The extra expense of feeding the poor was going to be imposed on the rich and the middle class. A refusal would make them anti poor, naturally? Why was it introduced in the last minute was a question that nobody seemed to ask. Many people were strongly offended when Modi thumped his chest and derided the MNREGA in the house but what he said made all the sense in the world.
Let’s accept this, we get turned on by Lalu’s Lungi and his countryside lingo. We love Kejriwal’s over-sized shirts and his common man antics. Let us accept this that we as a nation worship poverty and hate everyone that wishes to be rich. Let us accept this that we are a crab basket and we pull the ones crawling out of misery, back to the basket. Also let us accept that we hate the rich. Agreed that a lot of rich have flouted rules, bribed officials to get their work done. But haven’t we all or at least most of us? But branding all of the affluent class as bloodsuckers is sheer tomfoolery and branding the political parties that encourage corporates, job creation, foreign investment and entrepreneurship as anti-poor is stupidity of the highest order.
Picture Source: http://justinckimball.com