Reality Check India

The blank stare project

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on December 23, 2006

Assume, you are an individual who is extremely passionate about space and astronomy. You have blogged for 3-4 years fantasising what it would be like to explore Europa, to travel to Mars and beyond. You have written detailed articles about NASA’s faults and misplaced priorities. You have even written scathingly critical articles about the bad design of the Saturn class booster rocket nozzle. You have even formed group blogs with other equally passionate space enthusiasts. From interviews with NASA officials to coverage of space shuttle disasters, you have done it all. Now, if NASA launched a  manned mission to mars – is it natural for you to completely ignore the event ? This is what I call a “blank stare project”.

As 2006 draws to an end, we in India are greeted with blank stares from exactly those groups we would expect to have a strong opinion on the social policies of the day.

I am reading an excellent book (albeit poorly proof read!) called “We, the Nation – The Lost Decades” by Nani A Palkhiwala. In one of the chapters, he points to an excellent essay by G.K Chesterton called “The Mad Official”. He talks about when nations go mad, even monumental actions are received with silence and disinterest. It is worth reproducing here.

Read “The Mad Official” – by GK Chesterton

This slow and awful self-hypnotism of error is a process that can occur not only with individuals, but also with whole societies. It is hard to pick out and prove; that is why it is hard to cure. But this mental degeneration may be brought to one test, which I truly believe to be a real test. A nation is not going mad when it does extravagant things, so long as it does them in an extravagant spirit. Crusaders not cutting their beards till they found Jerusalem, Jacobins calling each other Harmodius and Epaminondas when their names were Jacques and Jules, these are wild things, but they were done in wild spirits at a wild moment.   

. . . 

Now things every bit as wild as this are being received in silence every day. All strokes slip on the smoothness of a polished wall. All blows fall soundless on the softness of a padded cell. For madness is a passive as well as an active state: it is a paralysis, a refusal of the nerves to respond to the normal stimuli, as well as an unnatural stimulation. There are commonwealths, plainly to be distinguished here and there in history, which pass from prosperity to squalor, or from glory to insignificance, or from freedom to slavery, not only in silence, but with serenity. The face still smiles while the limbs, literally and loathsomely, are dropping from the body. These are peoples that have lost the power of astonishment at their own actions. When they give birth to a fantastic fashion or a foolish law, they do not start or stare at the monster they have brought forth. They have grown used to their own unreason; chaos is their cosmos; and the whirlwind is the breath of their nostrils. These nations are really in danger of going off their heads en masse; of becoming one vast vision of imbecility, with toppling cities and crazy country-sides, all dotted with industrious lunatics.

Happy holidays everyone !!

6 Responses

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  1. Barbarindian said, on December 23, 2006 at 5:22 pm

    Happy Holidays to you to, RC and thanks for keeping up the eternal vigil on our behalf.

  2. Sharan Sharma said, on December 23, 2006 at 9:40 pm

    ditto to Barb’s comment!

  3. Goldstar said, on December 27, 2006 at 3:20 am

    Hello RC,

    I have been an avid follower of your blog. Thanks for some really insightful writing.

    Regarding the OBC reservation issue: How would it be if we pool in some money and take out ads in the mainstream media in West Bengal only highlighting the fact that only 6% of Bengalis are categorised as Backward classes whereas it is a whopping 73% for TN (as you have pointed out in many of your postings)?? I checked with a few of my Bengali friends and they are completely ignaorant of this statistics. This should bring in some debate and demand from Bengalis about a more rational data-based approach to the issue. I want it to be a Mamata Bannerjee vs Anbumani Ramadoss issue.

    If the MSM won’t accept these ads, lets start publicising this through West Bengal specific blogs, comments on The Statesman site, The Telegraph site etc.

    Wish you a happy new year.

  4. rc said, on December 28, 2006 at 7:14 am


    Thanks for following this blog.

    The West Bengal anomaly is striking. The CPM must really be made to explain this to the public. They rule both bengal and kerala, why only 6 out of 100 bengalis can avail of the new OBC seats whereas 60.out of 100 keralites can. What is the social / economic basis for this ground situtation ? Is WB the land of milk and honey and is Kerala mired in backwardness and brutal caste oppression ?

    I think the MSM is likely ignoring this issue (no surprises due to their connections with CPM and other political parties). I have written to many columnists about it and even allowed them to use any material found in this blog. They did not even have to acknowledge the original copy. I volunteered to come on a TV channel discussion to highlight the lack of data and various other anomalies. I know many media folks visit here (from the wordpress referrers list)

    The ad is an option, if any newspaper is willing to carry it. The idea is to drive towards a data-driven policy. One that is directed at the really backward.

  5. Shantanu said, on January 22, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    It is an excellent suggestion and almost certainly guaranteed to be ignored by mainstream media…we all know why…
    Sometimes I wonder what is the way out of this slavish herd? Is there no one left in Indian media who is willing to research and write reports based on facts rather than opinions and sentiments?

    When you have a moment, have a look at these category of posts on my blog:

  6. […] our social policies collapse in a pile of spectacular anomalies. The left wing cheerleaders will characteristically retreat into the woodwork and offer no opinions. I have pointed out that the #1 problem in India is the […]

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