'Cry, My Beloved Country' is an expression which comes to mind when we think of some facets of the Indian condition, such as that section of our population which lives on Rs 20 a day; farmers who have committed suicide; the hundreds of families who have lost their kin to the violence all around us; and the trauma inflicted regularly on women, of which we saw ghastly examples in Guwahati only last fortnight. These constitute deep agonies.
But between these deep valleys of anxiety lies another terrain. For all its undramatic nature, even this plain terrain has its own smaller ravines and hollows. One such that comes to mind most persistently is the silent interlocking of entrenched interests.
Great causes can accommodate great compromises. I will refer to three such comings-together. The first is in the domain of the state; the second of society and the third concerns individuals—you and me.
My first example has its locus in something we are rightly proud of and which has earned the world's applause—our elections. The...