Change is the only constant

The History of Mankind has never been a smooth flow of events. It has been jumpy and moved in fits and starts. A typical society has a smooth flow, till a catalytic event happens that moves it to a higher plane or rarely a lower plane. Why I say rarely is because out of all the chaos and confusion, clarity will come. During the period of chaos, it might appear that things are going bad but in the long run, the society would definitely benefit.

The catalytic event till the middle of twentieth century would invariably be an invasion or a revolution. At least a regicide a murder of the King. In British History the single most important act would have been the signing of Magna Carta (1215 CE). For the French it would be the storming of Bastille (1789). But if we look closer they were not momentary events. In 1100 the then English Monarch King Henry, signed the Charter of Liberties. The Charter signed in 1215 was passed into an Act in 1225, modified in 1297. But by the end of 19th Century only 3 clauses survived. As Lord Woolf stated in 2005, it was “the first of a series of instruments that now are recognised as having a special constitutional status”, others being the Habeas Corpus Act (1679), the Petition of Right (1628), the Petition of Right (1689) and the Act of Settlement (1701).

The same can be seen in french history or the U S History. A study of these countries reveal a series of minor events leads to a major cataclysmic event that to quote a cliche *changes civilization as we know it*. After few years / decades / centuries, most view the cataclysmic event alone as the change. They fail to notice the earlier events that led to the change or feel they are insignificant. Similarly, smaller events post the momentous event also is ignored. But it is these that really make the change.

As a person rooted to the ground, simpler words are more meaningful to me.

The minor events that lead to the major, single event can be compared to bursting of crackers. We see the spectacular sound and light effect when fireworks are displayed. But someone somewhere makes the fireworks, it is shipped to the ultimate customer who buys it in advance and then lights it at an opportune moment.

The minor events post the game changer is like post surgical activities. A trained surgeon may do a complicated removal of a cyst, but closing the incision and post surgical care also plays its role. We do not want a situation where multiple blocks are removed from the arteries but patient later dies of infection during surgery.

This long introduction has a purpose. Today India is at crossroads. Once more. Congress represents status quo.  A significant number of people are in search of a revolution. Most of them look for alternatives like the Aam Aadmi Party. AAP is not the only alternative today. In the last few years we have had the Jansatta of JP and few others similar. They represent the other end of the spectrum.

In this context, it is significant to read this article. It talks of AAP supporters  being upset with how things are in their party. There are two angles to the same. One, how the party leaders behave. I am not going into the same. Second and to me more important is the expectation from the party workers and its sympathizers. The article talks of people who left their jobs and joined this *revolution*.

What they fail to understand and I feel leads to this frustration is that they are part of a larger event in which the individuals are mere pawns. Insignificant. Again to take a brick and mortar example: Think of a chemical reaction. Few reactions need catalysts. The catalysts never form part of the finished product. The metal catalysts (the activated kind) lose their potency and are either discarded or reactivated. The chemical catalysts cease to exist. This would be the fate of most people who participate in a revolution. Marx (and Engels) theorized the communist revolution, Lenin and few others made it real but it was Stalin who was ultimately *crowned*.

Closer Home…. If we see August 15, 1947 as a singular event, decades of struggle went into it. Many lost their lives, savings and future for the independence of this country. The roll call includes what we would call the conservatives and the revolutionaries. Today we tend to call them the Right Wing and the Left Wing. If we assume, (a reasonable assumption to me) that both are intellectually honest, to me the following becomes evident.

The Right Wing at best is cautious towards change and at the other extreme resists change. On the other hand, the Left Wing is raring for change. Left alone, the Right wing would be content with the then current situation while the left wing would be raising hell for change for its own sake. Any cataclysmic event would involve both. The left wing that forces the change and the right wing that shapes the change. If we go back to freedom struggle, impatient leaders like Nehru forced the changes while conservatives like Patel, Rajaji ensured that such changes happened and happened in a way that those who gained were more than those who suffered.

Today as I said earlier we are at cross roads. A set of people are pushing for revolution not the blood and gory kind but through the ballot box. They tend to flock towards parties like AAP that promise instant revolution without realising the toil and sacrifices involved in same. But the gain to society is that they act as catalysts to change. On the other hand, the change to be effective has to be controlled. Controlled not as in crushed as meant by Shinde but Guided if that conveys the idea better.

This is where a more established party like BJP becomes more relevant. Again assuming intellectual honesty in the three parties involved, Congress today represents status quo. AAP is rooting for complete change, whatever that means. They want to close the Nuclear Power station in Tamil Nadu (PMANE), close large projects in Western India (Medha Patkar) but also give power free to its constituency. They talk of less governance but more supervision (Lok Pal). It will lead to no action by the government as no officer would take a decision fearing the Big Brother (Lok Pal). AAP also talks of not only Law making but also decision making by Mohalla Sabhas. This can lead to complete chaos.

For change to happen, we need not only catalysts but also inhibitors. Both catalysts and inhibitors lose their relevance once the change happens. A party like BJP can sustain the catalysts and inhibitors post the change. Leaders like Sardar Patel and Rajaji inherently acted both as catalyst and inhibitors. Naturally this was moderate at both extremes. They were never game changers. Gandhi and Nehru could act beyond what the mind could comprehend because they had good lieutenants in them.


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