2020 was a strange year, full of historical events that somehow looked meaningless. Farmers’ crisis becomes exemplary. India, which boasted of a rural imagination, seems to have lost sense of agriculture as livelihood
A narrative of a year ending is sometimes more than a literary problem. Usually a year’s events can be assembled like a family album presented with a sense of awe or familiarity. But sometimes, events become surreal and it is not easy to even juxtapose them into any idea of linearity. 2020 was a strange year, full of historical events that somehow looked meaningless. One can list the headlines like a town crier, but as a narrative, the year makes little sense. One has to invent a new genre, a surreal accounting that goes beyond socialist realism or magical realism. Literature and sociology feel helpless before the cascade of events; where history enacts itself as trauma.
2020 began with Shaheen Bagh and CAA. A little slum near Jamia Millia provided a lesson in constitutional history and solidarity in citizenship. Democracy seems to have been reinvented like a parable again, but Shaheen Bagh disappears as Covid demands its own attribution.
Covid is the one event that dominates 2020 and brings out our sense of stereotype and mediocrity. It operated along the faultlines of all major dualisms, formal, informal, public, domestic and created a world of shattering indifference. The documents were classic — from migrants being sprayed with chemicals to a child sitting innocently next to its dead mother on a railway platform. Covid showed that the migrant was an invisible creature, helpless in coils of exploitation. The pandemic triggered the greatest migration since the Partition and India watched it like an empty event. It was as if pain and suffering on this scale was impossible to grasp. Even Bollywood failed to create a myth of meaning from it. In fact, all it could offer was the saga of Bollywood through Sushant Rajput. One suddenly sensed Bollywood as fiction was more real than Bihar as reality. It was as if Covid was a parallel world which Indians entered occasionally.
The Chinese intrusion into India added a touch of sombreness, but India acted as if it was a Bollywood movie. The Chinese were demons that our heroes Rajnath and Jaishankar managed to shake off. A great civilisation degenerating into brutality hardly bothered our elite. It was as if the BJP wanted a touch of Chinese machines to stay in power. Geopolitics seems to be haunted by trivialities. Indian politics reduced the border to a sideshow where the internal dramas were taking place.
The world’s focus was on the US election, with Trump as an all-consuming obsession. Trump was the superhero of this era. A man who enabled America to caricature itself, becoming a display of threat and inanity difficult to digest.
In Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, Roshni Land Scam is just the tip of the iceberg, much more will come to light as we are going to burst the J&K NCC scam in which past and present officers are involved. Pertinent to mention here is that officers involved in this scam after their retirement joined BJP to get cover of their misdeeds. Two-three officers have become self -styled defense analyst and are also seen on National TV Channels. BJP should get their antecedents verification before entering them into their party.