Saturday, June 09, 2007
Big brother, love personified!
Big brother, the love personified!
George Orwell’s all-seeing leader of the dystopian Oceania, Big Brother, symbolizes the eyes and voice of the state machinery that has ubiquitous presence: around the street corner, up the billboard, in your bed room and literally purveys all your activities. This character gave birth to a kind of real life soap, invented by the Dutchman John de Mol and developed by his production company, Endemol. It is reported to be a prime time hit as a TV program in over 70 countries. The weekly tasks for the participants are set by an invisible big brother.
G 8 is some kind of a big brother in the global political arena. Here it is not just one person, but an assemblage of self styled mighty eight that condescends to set the agenda for governance for the rest of the world. Together, these countries represent only 14% of the world population, but they account for nearly two thirds of the world's economic output measured by gross domestic product. China and India are two fast emerging leaders in world economic development and it is not possible to drop them in the wayside. It is therefore not surprising that there have been later formulations to accommodate them in some way. It is done through a separate set of meetings known as the "G8+5, attended by representatives from all eight member countries in addition to the People Republic of China, Mexico, India, Brazil and South Africa; created at Gleneagles, Scotland in 2005, primarily to reach a consensus statement on a post 2012 Climate Change settlement. Representatives from the European Commission are present at all G8 meetings.
As the annual summits are extremely high profile, they are subject to extensive lobbying by advocacy groups, street demonstrations by activists and, on rare occasion, terrorist attacks. The most well-known criticisms center on the assertion that members of G8 are responsible for global issues such as poverty in Africa and developing countries due to debt crisis and unfair trading policy, global warming due to carbon dioxide emission, the AIDS problem due to strict medicine patent policy and other problems that are related to globalization. G8 leaders are therefore pressured to take responsibility to combat problems they are accused of creating.
Maybe, Asia and Africa will join some day to float a new organization and call it A2. Each of the participating countries will identify what it is strong in and leave a trail of rich legacies for the rest of the world to benefit from. India has vast repertoire of literature, philosophy and music. They will perhaps shift emphasis only from preoccupations with economic issues to ethical and cultural considerations. The values of strong family ties will re-emphasized and a spirit of camaraderie that lays the foundation for vasudeiva kutumbam will emerge. A2 will not be a big brother but a benign patria potestas.
Incidentally, a big brother, in the Indian understanding, is not one that bosses around. He takes the mantle of a father, when the latter quits. A brother protects the honor of the family and plays a decisive role for finding a suitor for his little sister. In both Ramayana and Mahabharata, the filial bonding between brothers exemplifies the best traditions of Indianness. Look out for the equivalent expression for brother in every Indian language. From Anna, to Chetan, to bhaiya, they spell out an immediate affectionate relation who oozes love to the younger ones. Brothers seldom fight, the Ambanis and Singhanias, notwithstanding. Or, if they do, the big brother knows how to quell it and bring harmony. If the family branches from the first degree of brothers to the second degree through the children to cousins, they become pangalis. Fissures appear; partition actions emerge. From the days of Pandavas and Kauravas to the present day, pangali fights are commonplace. The big brother knows when to partition to keep amity. But, have you not played a lawyer to fighting brothers? Or, a mediator to querulous siblings? Or, a Judge to litigious family? Identify the big brother amongst them who can put an end to the litigation. We just cannot afford certain kinds of litigation in courts. No other country has, perhaps, partition actions amongst members of the same family, as we are now having. We shall use the courts for settling scores with the government oppression, wherever it exists; to make the government officials work; to smoothen industrial relations; to bring honesty in commercial transactions; to bring the culprits to book; to eradicate the scourge of untouchability. So, what do you propose to do, when you have a partition suit between brothers? Go to the big brother!