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Bonfire Of Credibility

Pratap Bhanu Mehta in the Indian Express: Sin of littleness

It will take a novelist with unusual insight to diagnose how structures of power can warp the sense of self of those who inhabit it, diminishing them at every turn. What else explains how quickly smart politicians, intrepid journalists, wise judges, serious academics, imaginative entrepreneurs are one by one revealing their feet of clay? What we are witnessing at the moment, across a range of institutions, is an elite bent on self-destruction: ideas have been replaced by vendettas, the future with past resentments, constructive engagement with rank cynicism. The words of Gandhi, that master analyst of Indian politics, are hauntingly appropriate: “Our besetting sin is not our differences, it is our littleness. We wrangle over words. We fight often for the shadow and lose the substance.”

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The pessimism of the moment is not simply that decisions are not being taken or that reform is not happening. It is more serious and elusive at the same time. It is that it is hard for optimism to survive the bonfire of credibility that daily news has become.

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