Who Will Expiate For Whose Sins?

June 3, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud/Reuters



Ananya S Guha

World leaders are expiating for sins. Not theirs, but for their country’s, through the passage of time.


If we take a leaf out of the pages of history we can see how the Indian king Asoka atoned for killing thousands of people and changed his paths to kingdom, from war to peace, political to religious. But to repent for past mistakes of a country, what does it mean ? A soul searching of sorts, especially when an incumbent is due to leave office? What about the present? All political leaders of a country if they look at the world torn asunder with strife, are they outlining their precious foreign policies? Are interventionist struggles purely unavoidable? Or building nuclear arms and flexing muscles? If a North Korea openly shows off its strength in terms of building arsenals what is the message? Selling of arms to a country, is this not a preparation for war?  Yet concomitantly we say that there are cold wars! Wars are wars, there is no heat or cold to them. They mean brutal strength, intervention in other countries to wrest political power, pitting one country against another, one group against another in a country. If British imperialism reached its acme, it was by draining wealth. Today the super powers are doing it by brandishing weaponry and aggrandizement, also by subservience to other countries.


Why for example is the UK trying to pull out of the European Union, which was formed out of a pan European identity? Is it because there are crisie within the Union itself, akin to the crisis of the Indian Union? Why should Pakistan be a mediator in Afghanistan, when it is a well known fact that it is an Afghanistan baiter? Yet we have the UN peace keeping zone, the UN ‘mediation’ the UNESCO reports which talk about avowed social and economic goals for an unified world. Wealth being grossly disproportionate in the world is used as tautology. Everyone knows, but nothing can be done about it, the UN Millenium goals talk objectively about attaining social equity, but as long as the UN is a cipher there will be only conferences in five star hotels. Similarly the UNDP’s take on volunteering has to be objectively seen in social and educational settings, and contextualized. Politicians use rhetoric and academics write papers. In the midst of it we have people like Malala fighting valiantly for children’s education. One light, one Mother Teresa, one Vidyarthi does not seem enough in the world, where far from getting education children, men and women are subsumed by the demonic tentacles of war, bombing and vicious dictatorial tendencies. In between we have rabid people asking for a nation based on religion, which of course is not supported by all members of the community. But the lethality is in the killings, fanatic suicide squads, and educated people joining ranks. The Syrian refugee problem is an outcome of such anarchy, anarchy can only lead to anarchy.



It is an anarchist world today bulldozed by terrorism, internecine wars and alluring offers to join terrorism. Religious leaders who matter have taken a back seat, although efforts of the Pope and the Dalai Lama don’t go unnoticed. But who is desirous of noticing lights of love, or blessings of good people? There is too much talk of God in a godless world, bereft of humanism. On the eve of a religious occasion leaders will mouth the usual platitudes and ‘greet’ people. Anarchism takes place when societies are bereft of feeling and compassion. It takes place when poverty is uncared for, when education takes a back seat, raising the question, what after all is education? Shuttle diplomacy among countries, bargaining for power, selling weaponry does nothing to ameliorate human suffering and poverty. That poverty is the one singular insignia and stamp in the world, whether it is the South Asian nations or Africa, where electricity plunges people into ubiquitous darkness, both literally and metaphorically, cleaving the human condition- pot bellied children and starvation. Who is going to atone for whose ills? Who is culpable for this? The collective human responsibility can work when only the world thinks, sees and acts together. No big brothers, no small ones. Culture can flourish only when stomachs get the due. Every year floods in India especially North Eastern and Eastern India devastate land and the people. Who cares?


If there was one man who, born in the Victorian era and lived till he was ninety eight could see with his prescient eyes this present anarchy it was Bertrand Russell, who no one paid heed to, but who radically prognosticated the disruption of the human race. Just as the dinosaurs have become extinct he exclaimed, it will be man too! because man is not able to change to his living environs. Russell meant that this change should come from the heart, not the head. The head today dominates all thinking, all innuendoes, all warring spirits. We are badly divided, in soul, body and mind. Russell the teacher of philosophy and mathematics, levelled himself to ground reality. We are divided, split and now we are splitting the atom. he said. From the two world wars onwards man has gone from bad to worse. Formation of acquisitive societies all over the world, class struggles, the rise and fall of communism, all have left cleavages, leading to a divided Soviet Russia or a hypocritical Romania, where it was discovered that it’s communist leader was a fascist in disguise. Why blame Subhas Chandra Bose for trying to align with Hitler!?


Class levels in countries like India are so disparate that only the comfortable classes care for each other. No wonder then that there was a rise of radical humanism, here and elsewhere like in Nepal.


Who will expiate for whose sins? – very lamely put!








Ananya S Guha

Ananya S Guha was born and brought up in Shillong, North East India. He has seven collections of poetry and his poems have been published worldwide. They have also been featured in several anthologies. He is also a columnist, critic and editor. He now is a Regional Director at the Indira Gandhi National Open University and holds a doctoral degree on the novels of William Golding.


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