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The need to fight negativity

  By Vijay Darda | 25-07-2016

Temperamentally, I am an optimistic person. I can find positivity even in some of the most difficult situations. After all it is optimism that makes all of us get past all the hurdles in life. But of late, I am discerning that there is a growing negativity all around us, and this is almost getting institutionalised. Terms like policy paralysis and dysfunctional bureaucracy have entered the public discourse due to the dominance of negativity.

It would be prudent to remember that any negativity in one sector has a cumulative multiplier effect elsewhere too. Take for instance, the scams that affected the telecom and the coal sector. The phenomena of call drops that now dogs all the telecom companies is a direct fall-out of the remedial measures like the auction of spectrum that have been taken as a consequence of the scam. As the spectrum is sold to the highest bidder, there is a cost plus impact for the telecom companies. In turn they have cut down investments in infrastructure, even as the number of subscribers have increased, in order to retain the same price levels. This is an example of the chain of negativity. No one is against transparency or reducing corruption. But the problem is that negativity makes you lose focus. The core question is lost in the haze of negativity-is it the government’s job to maximise revenues through auctions of resources or should it create healthy growth that automatically leads to better revenues?

There is another instance and this one involves the absconder ’liquor baron Vijay Mallya. By all accounts, he has to pay Rs.9,000 crores to the banks. Now if the defaulter had been a person without Mallya’s high profile persona, then perhaps the banks would have worked out a settlement and the bulk of the dues could have been recovered in accordance with the banking norms. The rest of the world would not have got even a whiff of the settlement. However, because of Mallya’s high profile and the associated sentiment that coming to a ‘deal’ with him has an aura of negativity, the money may not come back, and in so far as Mallya is concerned he too remains out of the reach of law.

The hysteria that is generally associated with such negativity and the media frenzy that is selectively built up around various controversies that keep propping up at various levels, not only in our country but elsewhere has devastating implications. In neighbouring Pakistan an internet celebrity model whose selfie with a man of religion went viral was then murdered by her brother, and the crime was portrayed as an honour killing. This is an extreme manifestation of negativity. The manner in which the cow vigilantes in Gujarat have attacked the Dalit tannery workers also reflects the same distorted negative attitude. The sinking standards of language in public discourse that shone through the BJP leader’s references to the BSP leader Mayawati and the counter reaction of her workers also depict the same negativity.

Internationally, the phenomena of Brexit, the discourse of the Trump campaign in America, or the reaction of the Erdogan government in Turkey after the failed coup attempt, and even the frequent murderous attacks by the ISIS and other fundamentalist outfit fall in the same negative domain. All these activities actually negate the basic faith in positives about open, wider and unhindered human interaction.

It is the negative mind set of a section of the British population that gets carried away with an éxit’ European Union campaign. Likewise, when Trump talks building wall to prevent immigration from Mexico it is a negation of all the values of American openness that has seen its transformation into a melting pot of all cultures with its various hue of diversity. In all this the use of violence like the ISIS or other terror outfits is the most deplorable thing. Those who believe that violence will help them win an ideological battle do not seem to learn any lesson from history. The two most ruthless dictators of the 20th century-Hitler and Stalin- killed hundreds of thousands of people ideologically opposed to them. The horrors of the Holocaust and the Gulag manifested their evil intentions. They did kill and inflict untold suffering on millions and for some time they did seem to be winning the battle, but the end result spelt their doom.

It is not merely a cliche that in the end good triumphs over evil. In a continuing conflict between the two sides that represents the essence of our lifelong struggle, this is the only outcome that seems divinely ordained. But there is no resting on laurels, and it is an endless time cycle. In many respects this is also the law of nature. The sun always rises howsoever long and dark the night may be. The night does extract is price, but then it cannot suppress the day. The do-gooders, the selfless social workers and the innately well-intentioned in our society face all kinds of obstacles. Their motives are questioned, and their deeds are challenged. Their reputations damned, and the hard-earned dignity tarnished. All of it is aimed at turning them away from their chosen path. This could be in the education sector or in the sector of social service. For the entrenched vested interests, the motto is simple. The money-spinners and the welfare shops can flourish unchecked, but the selfless have to be stopped. They pose a mortal danger to the vested interests.

To fight these forces of negativism is the real challenge for the achiever. Just as a gardener has to protect the seeds in adverse conditions, the do-good achiever has to protect his good work assiduously. The difference between the do-gooder and the exploiter being almost akin to the seed and the weed. The former has to be nurtured, and the latter grows wild unaided. Negativism is too easy to breed, and it is positivism that has to be cultivated through a painstaking process. We cannot afford to forget this lesson in our fight against negativity.

Before I conclude…

The violent turmoil in Kashmir, and Pakistan’s attempts to fish in the troubled Indian waters also reflect the same negative approach. Instead of clamping down on terror related activities from its territories, Islamabad seems to take particular delight in celebrating terrorists as ‘martyrs’. Just as there is no honour in killing a woman for any reason, similarly there is no martyrdom associated with acts of terror. Burhan Wani, may not be hiding himself from the security forces and must have been posting the details of his exploits on the internet still, acts of terror do not change their colour if flashed across internet.


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The need to fight negativity


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